The Big Ways Big Data Is Driving Design

published Mar 26, 2019
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Minna Home’s Louis sofa (Image credit: Minna Home)

Big data. It’s the fuel that keeps our app-driven lives running. It keeps our ride-share on the most efficient route home (most of the time). It suggests that item that you totally don’t need but probably really want as you’re online shopping. But what about design? In an industry that’s as personal as design, is big data influencing the way we consume and carry out design? The answer is yes.

From furniture shopping and manufacturing, to building design, we’re seeing data play a bigger role. IKEA is using AI to envision a non-physical shopping experience. And when it comes to home design, big data is changing both the styles of furniture we buy, and also the way it’s manufactured.

Minna Home’s Cybil sofa (Image credit: Minna Home)

Today, online interior design service Modsy is launching their first-ever furniture line: Minna Home, a collection of high-quality, data-driven, eco-friendly sofas and chairs designed in-house based on customer data points and feedback. Modsy CEO & founder Shanna Tellerman tells Apartment Therapy, “Our core goal at Modsy it to help people create living spaces that they love.” Modsy’s new products include eight styles of sofas and chairs, ranging stylistically from a contemporary take on mid-century design, to chic pieces that take their cues from shelter sofas, according to Modsy VP of Style Alessandra Wood.

“As we started to look at data, seeing areas where we couldn’t find products or we saw gaps, it was natural to say let’s see if we can fill those opportunities by creating products that we know people will love,” says Tellerman. The number one point of feedback from Modsy customers, adds Wood, was the “need for pieces that are lifestyle-friendly,” meaning pieces that can sustain pets, children, and spilled wine. They’re also manageably priced as a step up from flat pack—sofas start at $1,099 and go up to $1,799, while chairs range from $799 to $1,199.

UK-based furniture brand Swoon is utilizing data, too. In Swoon’s case, it’s using data to quickly develop affordable home products, cutting the time from design to production. Their process produces a design cycle every month—instead of the usual practice of twice-yearly in the furniture industry. According to Forbes, Swoon draws upon data from the company’s analysts, their own test data, social trends, and external sources to launch about five new designs daily. The startup employs a bidding process across its numerous manufacturers to ensure cost optimization.

Minna Home’s Kyle sofa (Image credit: Minna Home)

But the data doesn’t stop at home; it is being mined to more effectively design office spaces as well. In fact, architectural design firms like Zaha Hadid Architects even has its own Analytics and Insight Unit. By placing sensors under workplaces, the architects can collect and synthesize data on everything from visibility, noise, humidity, light, temperature, and air quality. With all this information, architects are able to discern how employees truly use their workspaces and ultimately adapt and improve workspace design.

Similarly, workplace furniture manufacturer Steelcase, an industry stalwart, has teamed with Microsoft to launch their sensor-based Smart + Connected Workplace system that looks to educate companies on how to efficiently use their space as significantly more work happens online.

No doubt technology will only continue to filter through the design. In what ways would you like to see data push design forward? Tell us in the comments below.