A collection of influences workplace design will contend with in 2018, collected from all corners of the industry.
2017 may have socked Americans in the gut with a roiling political and social climate, but a new year continues to signal an opportunity to refocus and renew. Disruption, both positive and negative in nature, continues to rein supreme in 2018.
Here, we present a collection of influences workplace design will contend with in 2018, collected from all corners of the industry. We spoke with Barry Richards, President of IIDA NY and Principal and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group, to hear his take on the issues at hand. We also highlight the seven emerging forces in workplace design that Steelcase anticipates in 2018, as these items were especially compelling.
Disruption and unrest in 2017 have propelled people to ask for more balance, authenticity, a sense of community and the blending of seemingly opposite qualities – maximalism/minimalism, native/global, and cultural/science-driven.
“Community is perhaps the most important movement today. Creating an experience that is shared, that people feel close, with a sense of ritual and togetherness,” noted Mr. Richards. “Office culture is evolving beyond itself to create a community. It speaks directly to the mission that many companies already have in place.”
Not far from the heart of each of these influences is technology; technology’s impact is felt everywhere. New advancements in 3D printing, AI, bioengineering, and more informs and makes each influence more capable of being an agent of change.
Holistic design geared for company culture. Clients are pouring resources into developing their own company cultures, and will continue to ask architects and designers to create something that embodies that company culture to a ‘T’. Clients want to give employees, customers and the public a window into their past, present and future. Designers must find the best balance between these elements as they craft a physical space, reaching optics and authenticity at the same time.
Designing for smart cities. Offices no longer stand alone. Architects and designers must consider a project’s relationship with the surrounding environment in order to provide superior service to their clients. Markets are converging not just in influence, but in actual space requirements; commercial, retail, residential, hospitality and healthcare spaces are occupying the same buildings, shared amenities and public spaces.
Connected networks and things like free Wi-Fi capabilities are almost at the point of being expected wherever humans are, regardless of place or time.
“The third space used to be Starbucks, but now it’s ‘everywhere’” said Mr. Richards.
A premium on self-expression. “Residential and hospitality create a back-and-forth in how to create spaces that are intimate at a high-end level,” said Mr. Richards. “Now, boutique hotels are creating a heightened experience with a bigger concept unifying everything. They create a series of connected experiences that are more memorable and more theatrical, with more ritual and choreography between the spaces. Peoples stay in these spaces, then bring those experiences home, saying, ‘why can’t I have this experience in my home?’”
“Hospitality brings that experience-driven approach, where designers are asking, ‘What are the need states? What do you want this space to feel like?’”
Pantone’s 2018 color of the year made a much bigger splash than that generated by 2017’s Greenery. Ultra Violet, a mystical, supernatural blue-based purple, speaks to a collective urge to use color and design for bold self-expression. Minimalism continues its relevance, but the unexpected, surprising and unconventional has the ability to quench our thirst for creativity.
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.” The Pantone website expands: “A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.”
“There’s a desire for the sense that you can personalize your whole space,” said Mr. Richards. “Companies want to build in that space for creative expression.”
The casualization of everything. Designers are honing a balance between modernity and warmth. This balance comes from residential and hospitality influences, as well as younger generations reaching the workplace.
“Millennials are growing up, and their interiors are becoming a little more mature, more finished and upscale,” says Mr. Richards. “Spaces need to shift from day to night more effortlessly.”
A more balanced conversation in both wellbeing & sustainability. Companies are going big on offering their staffs everything from onsite healthy food and beverage options to, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, bike storage, quiet rooms, standing desks, health incentives and other wellbeing-based benefits.
“Companies are really starting to put more faith into the benefits of wellness amenities,” said Mr. Richards. “Wellness initiatives don’t just make people healthy – they contribute to a stronger bottom line by raising productivity and happiness and lowering things like absenteeism and presenteeism.”
More balance is also finding its way to sustainability in the workplace. The c-suite is beginning to approach sustainability not as a box that needs to be checked, but as an important piece of their mission.
Our focus on wellbeing and sustainability is part of the all-inclusive goal of designing for the circular economy – designing “products, services, and businesses that are good for people, the planet, and business.” As defined by IDEO, a circular economy moves away from “our traditional take-make-dispose economy, to one that has a closed loop, where materials, nutrients, and data are continuously repurposed.”
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