While the ‘telecommute’ trend is growing, more than 80 percent of us still work in a traditional office environment. The average employee spends 50 weeks or 2,000 hours a year in said space, generally seated in a cubicle. Increasingly, employers are beginning to understand the importance of creating an environment in which employees can collaborate and create.
Historically, companies would hire designers to create space plans. Determining how many desks and bodies can be squeezed into one space was their primary focus. Now that employers are being enlightened (likely by generational influences) they’re asking their interior design teams to think differently.
These are the five trends happening in commercial design:
I’m seeing a big demand for authentic designs that are reflections of the company’s core values. For family-focused companies, authenticity-centered design may take root through a room for mothers to breast feed, for example. For another with a health-driven mission, providing employees with standing desks and yoga balls might be how they are in alignment with their brand.
2- Color and Art
No longer are offices dark and dreary. More and more, my commercial clients are requesting colorful furniture, exciting original art, and even featuring – and sometimes selling! -- the work of local artisans.
Lately, I am installing wallpaper, chandeliers, beanbags, plants and even draperies in places like conference rooms and breakout spaces. The employer mindset being that if you have to be there eight hours or more a day, you might as well be as comfortable there as you are at home!
4- Generational Appeal
Today’s “cool” offices tout open floor plans, coffee bars, happy hours and foosball tables giving millennials plenty of time for on-the-clock play. This movement is often referred to as “activity-based working” where employers offer a variety of work settings that will support brainstorming, collaborating and team building.
While form has become much more important, function certainly isn’t dead. “We are definitely seeing a change in what designers and clients are looking for,” says Shannon Ferrigno, design studio director for SmithCFI. “It really comes down to creating a variety of inspiring spaces that offer choice of posture, technology interfaces that perform well and settings support the work that is being done throughout the day. It is not enough just to be beautiful”.
I surprised myself and have fallen in love with designing commercial spaces, including restaurants, retail stores and offices. If you’re thinking about transforming your businesses’ space, let me know!