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This Expert Pointed Out The "Gen Z Versions" Of Popular Millennial Design Trends, And It Appears History Is Repeating Itself

Millennials had a sobering moment a couple of years ago when they realized Gen Z'ers were calling their taste and style "cheugy." This, of course, was a made-up word, but it was intended to label our generation "out of date" or "trying too hard." And hey, it kinda stung.

Close-up of meme showing a young boy with a tear rolling down his eye
Close-up of meme showing a young boy with a tear rolling down his eye

But I recently saw a video that reminded me of how time is a flat circle and that eventually, Gen Z will be called some other version of "cheugy" by their successors. Reeves Connelly, a full-time content creator with a master's degree in architectural design, made a TikTok showing the "Gen Z versions" of millennial interior design trends, and it was pretty eye-opening to see the parallels:

@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

For example, the checkered pattern that is oh so adored by Gen Z'ers is actually just a new version of millennials' obsession with chevron:

A living room with a checkered floor design and one with a chevron style
@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

The mushroom motif is basically the same thing as the millennial pineapple:

  @reevcon / Via tiktok.com
@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

Squiggle mirrors are just a new iteration of the hexagon mirror:

Mirrors with squiggly frames above a hexagonal mirror hanging on a wall
@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

I feel like this one will cause a lot of denial, but the cowboy boots and hats trend is basically the millennial mustache and top hat reimagined:

A cow-themed, Western-style hat and a Western boot pencil holder above an image of someone smiling next to a framed photo of a top hat and mustache, and another of pipes
@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

And finally, the Gen Z versions of our holy Mason jars are these weird blobby cups:

Small round vases with layers of rings above several Mason jars with flowers, Q-tips, and toothbrushes in them
@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

I reached out to Reeves to get more into the nitty-gritty of his thought process with these observations. I was dying to know how he even noticed these comparisons in the first place. He told BuzzFeed, "It probably was a combination of learning about various design styles during my time in architecture school and being born on the cusp of the millennial and Gen Z generations. I was born in 1996, so I've been heavily exposed to the design styles of both generations. It's hard not to notice the overlaps between them when you've always been caught between the two. This generational overlap isn't anything new, either; design trends are cyclical. It's very rare for a generation's style to be entirely original and not have some elements borrowed from previous ones."

A bedroom scene with a neon and zebra-print bedspread above an image of a cow-print bedspread, with caption, "neon colors is very similar to the way Gen Z styled the cow print"

Yes, cow print is the new zebra print.

@reevcon / Via tiktok.com

I also asked him about what he thought inspired Gen Z's specific design choices. "I'd say that Gen Z's home decor style draws inspiration from the Memphis design movement and postmodern design. The Memphis design movement is known for its colorful and maximalist approach to design. Picture the '80s design trends: geometric-patterned carpets and malls decorated with neon accents in hues of pink, blue, and purple," Reeves said.

Geometric patterns in pink, turquoise, yellow, and white colors
Elena Bereberdina / Getty Images

"The movement was a reaction to the very clean and linear mid-century modern style that was popular between the 1950s and '70s. The mid-century style had a popularity resurgence over the last decade, and millennials embraced many of its design elements in their own homes. And just as the Memphis design style was a response to a more understated style, like mid-century modern, Gen Z’s colorful and playful approach to decor is a response to millennials' inclination towards the mid-century style," he said.

An example of mid-century modern, with a very clean, minimally styled living room showing a plain couch, throw rug, plants, and several small framed paintings

I was itching to know how Reeves thought this phase of Gen Z design would be labeled in five years (and I couldn't help but bring up "cheugy," of course). He said, "In my opinion, 'cheugy' is this generation's version of 'basic.' It's a term to describe someone’s preference for the more popular, less obscure things, regardless of their generation. No generation is safe from people that will judge certain design choices as being mainstream or tasteless."

Rebel Wilson looking at her phone with the word "cheugy" next to her

Well, you heard him, folks! No generation will ever escape the "basic" label, no matter what weird word it's disguised as. For more architectural-design insight, follow Reeves on Instagram and TikTok!