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Meet the ThinkLab Design Hackathon Advisory Council for 2023


We all know work is evolving, but what you may not know is that, by 2025, Gen Z is predicted to make up 27 percent of the workforce. And as with millennials, changes brought about by this generation will ripple up to all older generations — affecting not only space design, but also how creative work in the design industry gets done.

So how do we design the future of the architecture and design industry? By designing it hand in hand with the industry’s most influential specifiers and the next generation, Gen Z, as part of our generative industry research in the 2023 Think Design Hackathon.


Meet the 2023 ThinkLab Design Hackathon Advisory Council


We’ve assembled more than 60 of the industry’s brightest minds from ten of the top Interior Design Giants of Design, as well as eight forward-thinking manufacturer sponsors, to serve as our inaugural ThinkLab Design Hackathon Advisory Council

We have purposefully chosen professionals representing multiple generations, including firm principals, leaders, rising stars, and Gen Z designers from:

Graphic displaying logos of top architecture and design firms

And marketing and sales leaders from:

Graphic showcasing top manufacturers in the architecture and design

Why Gen Z?

Designing the future of our industry without including the next generation of leaders would be like designing a flying car when you’ve only driven one confined by gravity. Having a council from multiple generations provides diverse perspectives and experiences that allows us to best map what the future can look like.

This time, we are putting an extra emphasis on Gen Z’s perspective and its special characteristics (which include technology skills, digital communication skills, social consciousness, and emphasis on wellness). Why? Because Gen Zers, along with millennials, make up the first generations whose behaviors, preferences, and skill sets influence and educate those of previous generations. We call this the “ripple-up effect.”

How does the council work?

We host private workshops with the advisory council in two of the Hackathon research phases.

In phase one, which we’ve already completed, the leaders and principals from the council met to identify the biggest challenges they are experiencing in recruiting, retaining, and connecting with the industry’s biggest asset: its people.

In phase two, Gen Z and rising star council members will brainstorm tactile solutions to these challenges, bringing their fresh perspectives and insights about their generation’s behaviors and preferences.

What comes next?

Together, this council will challenge outdated industry norms and map the most impactful way to connect with the next generation. We will explore the shifts and impacts to come as Gen Z enters the interiors industry, ultimately identifying how to harness the ripple-up effect to position your brand for the future.

Embracing our “all boats rise” mentality, ThinkLab will be sharing hackathon findings with the entire industry ecosystem. Whether you are a product manufacturer, architecture or design firm, individual contributor, or leader, there will be actionable insight for you.

How to Get ThinkLab Design Hackathon Research Insights

We’ve started the journey, but there is more to uncover:

1. Watch our Gen Z keynote with Ryan Jenkins

We hosted this year’s design hackathon keynote speaker Ryan Jenkins to share “what the world already knows about Gen Z.” His virtual keynote set the stage as we explore how Gen Z will drive broad change for all generations and the future of the design industry.

Ryan is a Gen Z researcher and expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, workplace loneliness, and the future of work. Watch the replay of his Gen Z and the design industry keynote!

2. Take the Design Hackathon Survey

With five generations currently in the workforce, understanding the emerging differences among them is critical as we operate and design the future of the interiors industry.

We want to hear from you! No matter which generation you belong to, your input is needed. Take our quick 2023 design hackathon survey to share what is most important to you when connecting in the industry.

Bonus! For every completed survey, ThinkLab plants a tree. With your help we are growing our very own forest

This survey will run from February – March 2023 and is open to all industry professionals and students. Answers are anonymized and confidential. ThinkLab will use the survey to quantify, validate, and explore the challenges our industry is facing.

Graphic showcasing steps in a design hackathon process


3. Attend our live CEU Event at NeoCon 2023

While sponsors and participants will hear findings in a private session in May, insights will launch publicly for the first time on stage via a live CEU at NeoCon. If you’re attending NeoCon, be on the lookout so you can sign up!

What to Watch in 2023

Not able to attend the live event? No problem! We will be releasing our findings on multiple platforms. Whether you are an avid podcast listener or prefer hearing from peers in person, there will options for you to engage.

 For the individual listener:

  • Follow along with an on-demand CEU: Are you a visual and audio learner? This on-demand option allows you to learn whenever is convenient for you and provides easy-to-follow graphics of our research. Check out our other on-demand courses while you wait!

  • Watch for season 5 of the Design Nerds Anonymous podcast: Insights are just insights unless you can apply them. Learn how other firms and our sponsors are beta-testing our findings in these captivating episodes that share real-life examples and stories from our industry.

For your firm:

  • Request a CEU! Our seven sponsors will have access to a unique CEU providing our industry findings. No matter which generation or role you are in, there will be insights for you. Want this to be presented at your firm? Click here to meet all eight sponsors.

Want more?

For other inquiries on how to access our findings, we invite you to reach out to Olga Odeide at 

Jessica Jenkins is a member of the Research & Content Development team for ThinkLab, the research division of  SANDOW Design Group. At ThinkLab, we combine SANDOW Media’s incredible reach to the architecture and design community through brands like Interior Design Media, Metropolis, Luxe, and Material Bank with proven market research techniques to uncover relevant trends and opportunities for the design industry. Join in to explore what’s next at 


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