With the big move into more apartment living there are interesting social trends emerging and one is the boom in personal services taking place. Many of the trends are also tied up with the growth of the sharing-economy, while others are a direct result of how apartments are being designed to meet shifting demographics and it seems the trends have only just begun. Just waiting for the next clever start-up.
Car sharing, outsourcing services like laundry, pet care, on-demand storage, pre-prepared meals and nappy delivery are just some of the trends, and while we’re all familiar with Airbnb and Go Get, this is a booming area that’s directly influencing apartment design trends and more indirectly, housing affordability.
To help contain costs, some apartments are getting smaller. This has helped to nurture innovative design concepts and leading furniture and appliance manufacturers have responded. More compact living space does not mean buyers need to compromise. Clever solutions are all around us and the drawer dishwasher and combination microwave oven are both great examples of this. We also have furniture scaled for apartment living that are multi-use, examples include easy to access storage under lounges, beds or in ottomans. There are other changes however, that are directly driving the growth in personal services.
According to the ABS we spend around $10.5b annually on personal care and $0.78b on pet pampering, or an average of $22 per week for each household, but those figures are conservative.
Apartment Design Reflects a Wider Trend
The laundry is one area in apartments that has changed. Modern combined washer-dryers have become popular, but there’s also a big growth in sending the laundry out and possibly not needing any laundry space at all. The space could be used for bigger media areas or homes offices.
A number of operators with easy to use Apps now specialise in the collection, washing/dry cleaning and return of laundry items. Laundrapp, a British based on-demand laundry app, which started business just over two years ago has set a goal of being global in 15 countries, including Australia, by the end of the year.
Beyond the laundry there’s another trend impacting apartment design, and that’s in the kitchen with the rapid growth in the demand for pre-planned and packed meals reducing time spent in the kitchen and shopping for groceries. Already it’s not unusual to see these deliveries in apartment foyers, and published reviews are positive about the nutritional value of these meals, so the trend looks set to spread. This could well further impact the design of kitchens or see the introduction or refrigerated lockers into building foyers.
Or for the ultimate service why not a personal chef who cooks your dinner party but also looks after all the equipment, china needed and the washing up. So, a smaller, sleek and beautifully designed kitchen is all you’ll need.
Pets Also Driving Change
Another trend is that pets are now very common in apartment buildings, for owners and those renting. But pets need grooming, exercise and sometimes day-care, this has seen a big growth in pet grooming, walking and pet-sitting services. Pass almost any major apartment complex and you’ll see these services on offer with retail outlets now common.
Other personal services impacted by apartment living are collect & store and re-deliver services, for the storage of major items or bulky goods that are not in constant use. Different from self-storage as the goods are collected and re-delivered without having to visit a central facility.
If you’ve ever tried to store and clean golf clubs in some apartments then it’s easy to appreciate the merit in using a golf club cleaning service.
Cars and parking spaces have been an obvious area of change. With the spread of share-cars and fully automated cars it’s already possible to imagine buildings with no resident car parking at all, with immediate cost savings for the development cycle and possibly less expensive apartments. In the meantime, share-cars, mobile mechanics and car wash services are already very popular with apartment residents.
As apartment designs change we will also see some areas shared, and if you’re not sending your laundry out with a service like Laundrapp then a new format laundry is on its way.
Already popular in some European cities where washing machines at home are not common with young city dwellers, these new-age laundries are styled as coffee shops and places to work and grab a snack while the washing gets done.
Once upon a time we used to bake our own bread (out of necessity not choice) and doing the washing was a day-long chore, but no longer. It takes little imagination to see how changes to personal services and domestic needs will have lasting impact on apartment design.