In today’s world, it’s important to have an office space that functions according to your business’s needs and enhances the performance of those who work within its walls. This is why the design of your office is so important and why office design trends are constantly changing and adapting to the demands of businesses. It directly impacts our ability to work and be at our most productive, attentive, and creative every day that we step foot in our workplace.
Design plays a huge role in our lives. The goal of today’s designers, architects, and contractors is to go beyond creating buildings that are sustainable and energy efficient, and to work with the occupants to design spaces that help make them more efficient, productive, and inspired. With well-being firmly in place as a design staple, new movements have emerged from the trends of yesterday that are being implemented in offices around the world, making people happier, healthier, and more excited than ever to walk into work each day.
This evolving landscape of the workplace requires innovative thinking. Staying ahead of the curve is just as important in attracting top talent as it is keeping your existing workforce and working with thousands of major employers throughout the country, our design consultants see firsthand what trends are emerging and have staying power. After an analysis of our elite designers covering large, small, and emerging markets throughout the US and Canada, Ambius has identified four groupings of macro and micro trends that are driving office design trends today. As businesses continue to look at what their plans are for years to come, these dynamic trends offer different opportunities for employers, architects, and interior designers alike.
Unconventional Work Areas:
This office design trend was spearheaded by the millennial generation and their preference for open spaces, collaborative work environments, and the atypical. When you think of Unconventional Work Area designs, imagine a living room, meditation space, or a dressed-down conference room complete with sofas, bean bag chairs, plants and greenery, yoga mats, a smattering of vibrant colors, and lots of room for activities. Offices all over the world are adopting these new and unorthodox working and meeting spaces to attract young talent and make working spaces more fun and synergistic.
The Dynamic Spaces trend has emerged as one of the most popular office design trends over the past 2-3 years. Merriam Webster defines “dynamic” as: “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.” That is an apt description of what this design offers – continuous change. Dynamic spaces are moveable, constantly fluctuating, engaging, and can transform from a space for company parties and activities to traditional conference rooms or meeting areas. Dynamic spaces offer the opportunity for businesses to be more creative with their space. Interior designers know that businesses are constantly changing and becoming more flexible, allowing colleagues and staff to try new things in innovative ways, which led directly to this trend. Dynamic spaces are defined by lightweight and moveable furniture with wheels, garage doors to open space, plants and containers, moveable green wall dividers and wipe boards or chalkboards.
More than just an office design trend, Biophilic design is a scientifically proven philosophy of our innate connection with nature and natural elements. With people living and working indoors 90% of the time, this design trend has shot to the forefront. While Ambius designers have been consulting our customers on this concept for years, Biophilic design has reached a tipping point where it’s now a borderline best practice for architects, building engineers, and designers.
The WELL Building Standard and LEED Certification, among others, are the institutions that help raise awareness for and implement the Biophilic philosophy. Biophilically designed working spaces continue to become more commonplace as WELL and LEED work collectively to embed and ingrain biophilic benefits into industry standards.
This trend goes far beyond adding a few plants to your office. Biophilic design at its core uses nature as an architectural framework to weave the patterns and forms of nature into the built environment through the use of textures, patterns, natural lighting, and live plants. This office trend is rapidly growing in popularity in places where nature is not easily attainable such as offices in large metropolitan areas, and in more creative and progressive office spaces in large tech hubs, and across the construction and engineering industries in general.
Homestyle Comfort Design:
The new Homestyle Comfort Design is a sign that employers are either listening to the wants and desires of their colleagues, or they’re figuring out new (and fun) ways to get them to stay at work longer. This design is all about making offices feel more comfortable or homelike. It includes things rarely seen such as:
- Food trucks
- Beer fridges
- Game rooms
- and more
Ambius designers see firsthand how interactive design and employee comfortability can transform the workplace and the Homestyle trend embodies these characteristics. It stems from the growing millennial population in the workforce and the Millennials’ favoritism towards comfort, the unconventional, and hands-on involvement. Couple this with a growing awareness of the importance of environmental physical design, and you end up with new and exciting designs like Homestyle Comfort.
Green Dividers > Cubicle Walls:
Out with the gray and in with the green! Offices are tearing down cubicle walls in favor of open office spaces with working desks and collaborative working environments. This office design trend is bringing the privacy walls back into the workplace once again, but this time with a green twist. Rather than the dull grays and creams of old, green wall dividers and stand-alone green walls are being brought in to provide privacy, noise reduction, and divide rooms or spaces without destroying the overall feel and flow of the room, or negatively affecting creativity and productivity.
Green Without the Wall:
Not all buildings or offices are created equal. There are many factors that companies need to consider when they make the decision to “Go Green.” Not all building owners or tenants are able to install massive green wall installations that may require irrigation systems, large amounts of space, and sometimes structural engineering.
The Green Without the Wall trend is a way to create green wall-like designs that make a dramatic brand statement, add greenery and plant life to your space and allow companies to reap the air quality and productivity benefits of plants without purchasing a conventional green wall with the works. This office design trend creates the illusion of a green wall by utilizing things like hanging baskets at varying heights or levels to create a hanging wall, grouping plants together on shelves to create a green wall appearance, and fastening air plants to walls for subtle splashes of green.
This trend is becoming common practice in small offices and startups that want as much green as possible without the wall. The beauty of this trend is in the creativity that it lends to the designer. With walls made from string, wood, metal fencing, and canvas, the design is lightweight and makes an immediate impact in any space.
Out of the Industrial Design of 2016 came the Cement craze of 2017. No longer relegated to the outdoors, you’ll find cement in homes, restaurants, offices, and just about anywhere and everywhere these days. Traditionally non-cement features such as floors, countertops, plant containers, sinks, and shelving, are now being built and intricately designed using cement and inlaid with wood, stonework or even paint. The grays and light coloring of the concrete are broken up with pops of greens from plants and neutral colors to create a stunning juxtaposition that stands out as modern and industrial.
Cement has made such a massive comeback in recent years that even unexpected items such as chairs, clocks, lights, and stoves are being made of the material. Its immense popularity stems from its simple, minimalist aesthetic, clean and smooth lines, it’s well-documented toughness, and it’s surprising versatility which allows it to be used in or alongside many designs.
There has been a slow and steady trend toward terrariums lately as they work their way onto the tables and countertops of the design world, replacing the enduring Orchid from its long-held throne in countless offices and retail stores across the country. Terrariums, and especially succulent terrariums, have become a major accent piece for interior designers and landscapers this year as they’ve expanded their reach beyond the traditional office and retail settings into new territory such as food services, bathrooms, game rooms, and healthcare offices.
Other types of popular terrarium plants include ferns, air plants, and carnivorous plants such as Venus Fly and Pitcher plants. Part of the popularity stems from their quick service, low maintenance nature, their space-saving size, and sheer fascinating beauty that anyone who encounters them will notice. Terrariums can be customized with decorative items and beautiful containers, or they can be masterpieces of design and technology, equipped with fog machines, sensors, and light displays that allow them to be placed in areas where other plants wouldn’t be able to survive.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about the influences of design, you’ll love The New Natural Habitat: How Biophilia and WELL are Changing the Way We Work.
*This article was written in collaboration with Ambius designer, Laura Burns-Lambert
Ambius designers are experts in enhancing the office space of businesses just like yours. Contact us to speak to one of our specialists and get the ball rolling for improving your space today.