IMPERMACULTURE: The Future of Youth Culture

18.07.223 min read

Definitions of home are shifting. We collaborated with Dazed Studio to find out how young people interpret the concept of home.

Traditional notions of home revolve around structures of residence — essential spaces of shelter. Yet home is also a deeply emotional concept. Amid political, environmental and cultural upheavals, young people’s ideas about identity, community, technology and safety are changing. Home is in flux.

We teamed up with Dazed Studio to explore how 18 to 24-year-olds understand the home — and how they connect with it. Beyond the four walls, what are the spaces, objects and activities that constitute their personal feeling of home? And what can their perspectives, interests and ambitions tell us about the future of living?

Our new report IMPERMACULTURE unfolds what those definitions look like for youth across the world, and why.

By asking young people how they imagine the home, we inevitably found ourselves asking how they imagine their place in the world. Their answers make for difficult, urgent, and profoundly necessary reading.

‘How will the home change and how will it stay the same? We wanted to know how the idea of home is shifting for the young people of today. And what does that mean for our homes of tomorrow? What we’ve learned is that home seems ever more difficult to attain, so it is important to create a sense of home in other ways.’

Helen Job

Insights Director, SPACE10

For the youth of today, there is no stability, only a knot of insecurities. They find themselves unsettled, enclosed in a human-created system that doesn’t actually provide for human needs. There’s a disconnect between people and the environment, food scarcity, and an energy crisis.

There is also little permanence. Forced displacement is climbing. The absolute number of people living in slums or informal settlements is more than one billion. A study by the International Organization for Migration found almost 6.48 million people were displaced in Ukraine in the first three weeks of Russia’s invasion.

Youth homelessness in the UK has risen 40 percent in five years. More people than ever are struggling to afford a secure place to live. An estimated three billion people will require adequate and affordable housing by 2030. Yet, not enough is being built.

Young people are being robbed of the fundamental right to put down roots. And while 18 to 24-year-olds are the most connected generation, they are also the loneliest. They’re nowhere in particular and everywhere all at once.

This is unsustainable. This is IMPERMACULTURE.


Home truths

We are at the beginning of a transformative decade — one where, for many, the home will be the most important place in the world. Now, more than ever, there is an opportunity and an urgency to reconsider how to live.

How can we make sure young people feel safe, represented, connected, and optimistic about the future? How can we close the gap between their healthy, sustainable ideal homes and present realities?

‘The next generation has a very sophisticated and complex understanding of home.’

Michele Gorman

Assistant Professor of Interiors, Objects and Technology, Parsons School of Design

Insights from the report:

  • Widespread displacement has separated young people from ‘home’ in a permanent sense. While attitudes today are more progressive, the spaces we inhabit are largely still built on the back of class, gender, and racial inequities. Home is now more closely tied to a sense of self, and objects take on new meanings in this context.
  • Local communities form homes away from home, and step in where institutions fail to fulfil basic needs. 18 to 24-year-olds naturally find many of their communities online. Yet, we are witnessing a loneliness epidemic among the young, signalling that digital relationships can’t replace in-person connections.
  • While a majority of youth would like to own a home, 40 percent believe this is unrealistic. With shared living becoming the norm, the bedroom becomes the sole private space. The bedroom is the home. Or one home — almost three-quarters of young people view more than one place as home.
  • Physical safety is of utmost importance to today’s youth, but so is a broader sense of mental and emotional well-being. They don’t just want to feel safe, but secure and calm at home — and the climate crisis fuels their concern for the future.
  • For many, the increasing digitisation of the home prompts anxieties about privacy and surveillance. Emerging tentatively into a post-pandemic world, young people are fatigued by constant video connections and are rejecting pressure to share all aspects of their life online in favour of more meaningful connections.

To launch IMPERMACULTURE, Dazed Studio hosted a conversation with SPACE10’s Helen Job, metaverse designer Damara Inglês, and design consultant Jenna Fletcher to explore the report’s findings. Watch it here.