Designing for Gen Z


Recap: 6/15/16

Hosted by LWD member Emily Steen at Set Creative 

“Designing for Generation Z” – short presentations and discussion about Gen Z by LWD members Emi Day of Mahlum Architects and Jess Wallace of Ziba.


Emi Day, currently an architect at Mahlum Architects, has been working on the redesign of Portland’s Grant High School, scheduled to be finished in 2019. The new design integrates both needed upgrades and designs that reflect the future generation, Generation Z. One aspect of the redesign that has been very important to the principle is that the new bathrooms be gender inclusive which in many ways is about redesigning the toilet experience and designing for a new generation that is more gender fluid and less black and white then previous generations. Their design was very much designed for Generation Z and because of this the design team had to think forward and not design from a place of fear or the past.

All gender bathrooms reflect the time and the future generation. Although the topic of gender neutral bathrooms is becoming more common as some corporations and public buildings start integrating new design thinking in this directions, this design will be the first official gender inclusive toilet in a national High School.

Aspects that needed to be considered in the design:
-Common areas
-Walls all the way down for privacy in stalls
-Sinks inside the bathrooms
-No main walls closing off the common areas
-No more urinals


Untitled Extract Pages.jpg

Images pulled from Muhlum Architect Schematic Design: See full design:

This sparked a conversation of other gender neutral bathroom experiences members are designing to reflect the current times and future predictions. Leslee Biggs Randolph is currently redesigning a bathroom experience for a Water Treatment Plant to reflect that women are now joining the workforce as the bathrooms were designed exclusively for men in the past.


Jessica Wallace is a Design Insights and Trend Strategist at Ziba. Ziba held a panel discussion during Design Week Portland in April of 2016 and Jess was generous to bring much of that presentation and her research to share and lead the discussion.

You can view the DWP presentation at this link:

Panel Q&A:

What we learned about Generation Z from Jess:
-Born between 1997 – 2015 (currently 20% of the population, yet 60% of consumer spending, or influence consumer spending)
-Do not know the world before the internet, have grown up in a constantly connected world
-Ziba is most interested in learning more about ages 15-18
-No labels
-Gender neutral culture / gender non-binary / identity is fluid
-Culturally diverse
-Continually online, snap chat
-Entrepreneur – 60% start their own company
-Redefining education, DIY learners – we can make it ourselves, we can seek our opportunities to learn and teach ourselves
-Environmentally and socially tuned in – “In fairness we trust” – we are all in this together
-Interested in brand stories and authenticity, value systems
-Analog love – interested in the analog, back to the physical, screens can’t replace the physical

*Image pulled from Emma Mcilroy presentation

Some names (influencers) of this generation mentioned:

– Nadya Okamoto –

-Logan La Plate –

More information:

References mentioned:

-Girls Who Code –