Designing meaningful experiences when things don’t matter anymore

April 15, 2019

Euromonitor, the market research provider, forecasts that global expenditure on the experience economy will reach $8.2tn by 2028. Everything from wine-tasting to jam-making, holidays, walking and cooking courses to AirBnB paid for experiences, private members clubs and even co-working spaces like Fora and WeWork come under this banner.

Private members clubs have evolved to become less restrictive and more diverse than the stuffy gentlemen's clubs of the past (read this open letter if you want to find out how some people feel about these changes) but the modern venues - with their co-working spaces, screening rooms, event spaces and rooftop pools - are fast becoming the places where many of today's young “creative class” choose to not only work but play too. Membership remains expensive though, with some charging more than £1,500 per annum according to the BBC.

Like Soho House or not, they are here to stay (maybe the Gen Xer’s are just too dare I say, old for them now?). After all, Soho House said the global network of private clubs had a rise in membership and wealthy customers eating and drinking more have boosted revenues at a time when its finances have been under strain from lavish spending on new venues. Global membership has increased 23.9 per cent to almost 70,000, helping to increase membership dues by 44 per cent. Sales of food were up 20 per cent and drink up 15 per cent. Financial Times, Nick Jones must be doing something right.

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash
Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

Companies like WeWork, become more cult-like and membership-esque by the day. Now a +$10billion company, founder, Adam Neumann said in 2016: “We don’t need to spend money on marketing. Because we’re part of a mission and a movement. And if you’re part of a mission and a movement, your members will sell you” Guardian, 2016 Things might have changed just a few years later, with more competition firing up,a hefty dose of saturation and some people tired of the identikit gold-fish bowl type offices where no one really collaborates despite being designed for collaboration because you know, IP’s, NDA’s .etc .etc. We’ve also been privy to a fair few paid social media posts from good old WeWork so we can only assume the competitive market is fair game again (plus WeWork is pretty spenny if you’re a startup bootstrapping or living off your seed round but I’m sure that’s been talked about before.)


Eventbrite, a ticketing platform for live experiences, found that more than three in four American millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience or event than buy a desirable object. It’s about time people found more meaning in experiences over things, especially since we have most definitely reached peak stuff already.

Regardless, it demonstrates that people think that desirable experiences are worth spending money on and ones that satisfy this generation’s “peacock tendencies” fair even better. But does it create meaning in peoples lives one wonders? I can’t help but ponder that the selfie generation’s time up is coming soon what with the list of selfie-taking injuries and fatalities rising. (more than 250 people worldwide have died taking selfies in the last six years). And with this year’s orange superbloom in california attracting many an instagrammer from across the world (hey I wanna go and I only have 150 followers) and with National Parks in the US facing unnecessary shut-downs and small towns being overwhelmed, Lake Elsinore in Riverside County has started charging for these “desirable experiences” so there’s money to be made especially if it makes the whole experience more sustainable and increases the social impact of everything we create. A shuttle bus makes much more sense over clogged up highways, choking traffic and general havoc from an influx of unexpected visitors, plus anything that encourages nature connection always gets my vote.

Photo by Veronica Ivanov on Unsplash.
Photo by Veronica Ivanov on Unsplash.

What more can we do to design experiences that are not only desirable but meaningful too? And how can we ensure that these experiences remain affordable for all, are sustainable and protect the planet and help local communities thrive in increasing challenging circumstances?

This little insight was brought to you by Hana Sutch, Managing Partner here at Furthermore and Go Jauntly.

Lead image by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

Have an idea you want to discuss? Call us for a free consultation

get in touch

No items found.
Next Up:

More insights:

Get in touch with the team to discuss your idea, project or business.

workshop session for a service design project
service design workshop with Furthermore teamLarge Furthermore logo in white