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My look at the design direction of 2020

The past decade has been a real powerhouse in development for the workspace, before this, trends were focussed mainly on the physical and the practical, and perhaps not quite so much on the psychological.

A business thought that if a person had a computer and a desk – surely, they could reach 100% productivity. This past decade and especially so the past 5 years, the psychological effect the working environment has on a person has been hurtled in to the forefront of our minds –and rightly so!

There are so many trends that I am happy to say have turned from fad in to best practice. The health industry and doctors preach to us that short-term fad diets are a miserable quick fix to long-term health/weight issues and recommend a change in lifestyle. This theory also applies to workspace design and transferring this in to a long-term lifestyle change and the health benefits attached to this.

A few of the transformed trends that are still storming through in workspace design interconnecting with each other from 2019 are biophilia (my favourite!!) optimising natural light, standing up/movement, wellbeing, connected furniture and technology.

These are all leading the way in best practice, and the below six examples we will see more of in 2020.

Organic Shapes

Throughout London and many global cities, building footprints are largely angular or geometric in shape. Very few are organically designed leading to the interior design being the key to soften the spaces and make them feel more inviting, utilising curves, flowing shapes and natural products such as wood to make a space feel less harsh among a busy city.

‘Organic design is a style of design which takes as its starting point organic, flowing natural forms. Undulating lines, dynamic curves, and powerful arches stand in contrast to the geometric, functional style as represented by functionalism’

Photo credit: Morgan Lovell

Oversized lighting

Creating statement areas within an open plan space that brands each area, for example a collaboration zone, not only helps with acoustics depending on the shade specification, but also adds colour, pattern, texture and helps with way finding. If a footprint is very large, oversized lights create interest at a higher level and guide people to the location they need to be easily.

Photo credit: Morgan Lovell

Agile/Activity based working

This is a trend that has been coming though for a number of years but that will be far more dominant in 2020. Workspace design is far less about a desk per person, but challenges the ratio of different departments and how often people are actually at their desk for more than a few hours at a time. This means that less desks and less space is needed – ideal when looking for a new space and calculating the size and cost. Add in that often individuals prefer to work in different ways, in booths, private pods, sofas, high tables, social areas…….the office is becoming an environment of choice, and movement and allows more activity and collaboration.

Watch this space for the totally desk-less office of the 2020s….

Photo credit: Morgan Lovell

Mixed Patterns

Colour and vibrancy has become more prominent in office design, but mixing patterns and textures is now coming through to give spaces an identity and create pockets of interest and a warm, wholesome feel more like a home or hotel environment. Textured wallcoverings are interesting nearest to lighting so throughout a day the space changes slightly using light and shadow with the texture, while adding in pattern or biophilic designs to wallcovers create impact and can brand a space, for example a meeting room or quiet room that needs more than just 4 plain walls.

Image credit: Morgan Lovell

Multi-Functional social environments

Social environments have become a staple in workspaces, bringing teams together to interact with more than just their direct team members on a daily basis, and creating an environment to celebrate successes. This however does take a larger space than perhaps previous years in office design have accommodated, and so to make sure a space is still efficient, this becomes a multi-functional space. Social spaces go hand in hand with activity based/agile working and along with technology and connected furniture. This can be a space for working, meeting, town hall gatherings and social/client events, making the space work harder and more effectively. Additionally to this, a trend coming through is the reception being a part of this social space, when entering an office, there is a buzz of people and activity as well as a welcoming space for clients/visitors to feel they are part of the action and get a hint of the personality of the company.

Photo credit: Morgan Lovell

The death of Fridays

Many companies have adopted the work from home Friday over the past decade – but over the past few years and especially so in 2020 this will become even easier with new waves in technology and connection between home and office. Anyone, at any time, from anywhere can login to work and so giving back to employees is essential. Who really switches off at 5.30 Monday – Thursday anyway? Meaning gaining a day at home is a huge wellbeing tick in the box. This means for so many that childcare can be reduced, scheduled appointments can be made for a Friday, and keeping it very casual over office attire is an easy fix. This keeps Monday – Thursday more productive and less of a worry for those unavoidable personal triggers, which effect wellbeing and mental health.

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