by James LaPosta
It was 20 years ago that the Harvard Business Review Press published Joseph Pine and James Gilmore’s ground-breaking book called The Experience Economy: Competing for Customer Time, Attention and Money. Pine and Gilmore described an emerging trend where the dynamics of our goods and service-based economy were shifting to a new model – an “Experience Economy.” Under this new construct, economic activity would be generated not from supplying commodities, goods, or services, but one where experiences, and the estimation of their value, would be at the forefront.
While there is no doubt that commodities, goods, and services are essential components in the design of experience, the key difference is that there is a new intention around the engagement surrounding offerings and how these experiences become a distinguishing characteristic of the economic transaction. While goods and services are external to the buyer, experiences are inherently personal and have the potential to engage us emotionally, intellectually, physically, and even spiritually.
Around 1998-99, designers began to have conversations with educators and administrators about changes in curriculum that would move us away from models that emphasized memorization and rote learning to an educational process that was more exploratory, interdisciplinary, and fluid. As a matter of fact, over the last 20 years, we have seen an incredible shift in not only how teaching and learning is happening, but also where these activities are occurring.
Today, it’s difficult to disentangle these two trends and how they have influenced the adoption, acceleration, and normalization of the other. We have seen and profoundly felt the shift in standards and expectations of boomers and Gen X versus the way millennials and Gen Z see and experience the world. As design professionals working in education, we embrace the impact these changes have brought in creating an exciting range of possibilities and a kind of liberation to viewing a space. The architecture and design practice must utilize influences from across different project types to achieve design that is dynamic, flexible, and adaptable. Below, I’ve summarized the crossover that education design has with the design of workplace and hospitality projects, and why it matters.
Workplace – There has been an exciting and profound shift in workplace design. Communication, collaboration, creativity, and productivity are universally important to every enterprise. Exactly as we are seeing in K-12 and higher education, new corporate environments are being designed to engage a variety of work styles and models. As such, JCJ has been using the corporate office as a lab for trying out new furnishings and fixtures and to test configurations of flex rooms, maker spaces, and touchdown areas. By creating multi-functional spaces, we are looking to create learning environments that are exciting, efficient, and adaptable for “what’s now and what’s next.”
Hospitality – Design for hospitality is about creating effective, memorable, and personalized experiences that enhance customer loyalty. Using lessons learned from JCJ’s work in airport concessions, food and beverage, and hotels, we utilize strategies to emphasize comfort, engagement, and shared experiences. From designing dynamic and welcoming spaces for students to creating schools that are effective workplaces for teachers and administrators, it’s important to take a holistic view of all end user experiences.
While education design has become increasingly informed by that of modern workplace and hospitality approaches, now more than ever as we move forward in this new world, we’ll continue to see this cross-functional strategy while we work to discover and implement effective solutions that not only protect but also elevate the human experience.
James LaPosta, FAIA, LEED AP, is principal and chief architectural officer at JCJ Architecture.