The main principle of universal design is good design for all. Holding this principle to the highest standard is quickly becoming the mantra of today’s trailblazing creatives. Universal design is thinking about design with a democratic approach rather than a lifestyle asset. Famed hotelier Ian Schrager, known as the godfather of the boutique hotel, passionately believes in the universal design movement, and his new hotel, Public, in New York is a testament to the fact. “I always liked the idea of making cool things, sophisticated things, available to everybody,” said Schrager, “I like to do things that everybody understands and can participate in. Andy Warhol did it with art. Terence Conran did it with furniture. They made it available to all.” How to do more with less is a major challenge forcing us to confront what is a necessity and what is not. We gain more comfort from spaces and products with purpose than the decorative.
The open source model initially focused on software programmers, but the idea of a collaborative design community has caught on with companies around the world. Bridges between disciplines will continue to be built according to Asta Roseway, Microsoft Research designer and fusionist, “The design challenges ahead will be more complex and thus will require several disciplines, or even fields, to come together.” Transparency is another important principle of democratic design. The internet in general and social media specifically have allowed brands to develop personalities, value systems, and relationships with other brands and consumers in ways never before seen. Consumers expect to know more about companies than ever before, placing a higher value on where their purchases come from and how they are made. They will even spend 10 to 15 percent more on ethically produced goods, according to Marshal Cohen, retail analyst at NPD Group.