Like an excitable puppy, commercial interior design never sits still. Constantly adapting to the needs of employers and staff, the way that offices look and feel is forever in flux.
Don’t believe us? Just think about how different your office looks from the beige cubicle farms that dominated the workplace landscape a couple of decades ago.
Gone are bulky PCs, stuffy workstations, and layouts littered with water coolers. In their place are ergonomic desk chairs, eye-catching features, and light-infused breakout spaces thoughtfully arranged around open plan layouts.
Generally speaking, offices have become places that we don’t mind spending time in. In fact, some are even nice enough for us to want to spend time in.
The transition to brighter and more welcoming working environments didn’t simply happen overnight, though. It occurred gradually, with each year between 1999 and 2019 bringing small changes that have shaped the way that offices look now.
This year has been no exception to this rule, with new trends and styles emerging and influencing the way that we design workspaces.
Lucky enough to have worked with a diverse range of clients this year, we’ve gained some invaluable insight into the ever-changing world of office design. Completing entire office fit outs and some exciting refurbishments over the last nine months, we’ve gotten a good idea of what makes staff buzz.
Ever reflective, we thought it would be worth taking stock towards the end of 2019 to identify the key trends that are set to define the year.
Lately, office designers are realizing that technology isn’t just functional; it can be decorative, too. From large scale video walls to television screens, the integration of digital devices has become a common theme in contemporary office design.
Returning to Norwich City Football Club to complete a refurbishment this summer, we introduced several strategically placed television screens to allow everyone in the office to view one no matter where they’re working.
As well as keeping staff connected, the screens help to create an environment that’s in keeping with the times.
A recent poll conducted by YouGov revealed that 1 in 3 employees would welcome more light in their office.
The desire for brighter surroundings has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with the way it affects performance.
Indeed, poor lighting is responsible for a variety of irritating health problems. Firstly, it creates a veritable breeding ground for migraines and fatigue. A long time spent in a dimly lit space also wreaks havoc on our sleeping patterns. Experiencing any and all of these complications naturally makes it very hard to be productive.
It’s with some relief, then, that bosses seem happy to light up their offices- with an ever-greater emphasis on natural and artificial light sources, 2019 may well be remembered in commercial interior design circles as ‘The Year of the Light’.
Whilst some office designers have come up with some fairly pioneering ideas, others have drawn on the past century of office design for their inspiration.
We utilized this approach when producing the latest office space for Ashtons Legal Solicitors in Bury St Edmunds. A full barn conversion, we left the beams and brickwork fully exposed to show off the origins of the building. This helped to create an environment that exuded warmth whilst at the same time keeping up a professional appearance that would be appreciated by clients and staff.
It’s still possible for designers working in purpose-built environments to bring a bit of history into their projects, however.
Placing the occasional antique or piece of early office furniture alongside more contemporary features, for instance, creates an interesting and effective contrast.
With retro remaining a popular trend in commercial interior design, it’s likely that we’ll see even more nods to the past as we move into the future.
For a good many years, office designers had to decide between creating a closed or open plan office. The reason for this was simple: they either built walls to create sectioned-off spaces or they didn’t.
The invention of temporary office partitions and acoustic pods, however, has meant that such limitations are a thing of the past.
With the ability to reconfigure the layout whenever necessary, designers have been granted a greater freedom
Indeed, these modular fixtures ultimately allow designers to create flexible working environments that meet the needs of any team. Got some employees who work best in silence? No problem, a soundproofed pod will see to it that they’ve got a retreat to get their head down in. Got another group of creative collaborators who need a space to brainstorm in? Again, place a partition around them and they can chat enthusiastically without ever being disruptive.
Of course, it certainly helps that these partitions and pods happen to look great if designed and installed properly.
Rising in popularity in 2019, it’s fair to assume that dynamic workspaces will be something that sticks around for a while.
Muted tones and textures were once the order of the day for office designers. Thankfully, they’ve gone the way of bulky fax machines and Rolodexes.
Nowadays, designers are confidently embracing colour. Even more so when it’s a brand colour that they’re integrating into their plans.
This is another trend that we made use of when carrying out an office refurbishment at Norwich City Football Club. Introducing splashes of their signature yellows and greens, we created a workplace that nicely captured the identity of the club.
Besides infusing a distinct sense of personality, the proper use of colour also offers the same benefits as good lighting.
The blue we use in our branding, for example, has been shown to inspire feelings of peace and confidence. Similarly, orange (another colour we’re rather fond of) has been linked to an increased sense of warmth.
Clearly, colour is a mighty powerful weapon in the designer’s arsenal. Capable of influencing the feelings of staff and visitors, it’s certainly something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With this in mind, it’s good to know that 2019 will be a year that’s remembered for truly welcoming colour into commercial interior design.
At Bluespace, we pride ourselves on having our fingers on the pulse and our eyes on the crystal ball. This balancing act allows us to create workspaces that are both on trend and future proof.
If an office refurbishment or fit out is on the cards for you this year, why not get in touch with our team to find out how they can help create the perfect environment.