Back to Basics

With an upturn in the interiors industry, office design returns to a simple and minimalistic form

The last decade has seen unprecedented change, driven by technologies that have forever altered how and where we work, so that not long from now, there won’t be offices — or at least, not offices as we understand them, according to Andrew Sibley, Desso’s regional sales and marketing director.

The office design industry is very competitive in the Middle East. With more than $200 billion worth of major projects awarded across the region, it will bring the GCC commercial fit-out and office refurbishment segment an exponential growth, said Aslam Dodhia, country manager furniture, Saudi Arabia, Al Shaya.

Andrew Jackson, director, SAS International agreed and said the potential for the industry is significant. “However, with so much space available how will building owners and landlords attract tenants to their space without de-valuing the letting market?”

“The office design industry here is going to be a mixed bag depending on who you are selling to, and to some extent, where you are selling,” said Gilbert Griño, marketing manager, BAFCO.

With the economic turmoil happening in US and Europe, companies with cash flow are continuing to look for offshore countries where potential for near-term growth is present, he added. This is what makes key areas such as UAE, Qatar and KSA still a good market.

Abdulaziz Al-Azem, executive director, DTS agreed and said after the recession, the KSA has shown good economic stability, making it a global attraction for investors.

Jackson added the regional market has traditionally not been design-led. However, now office space has to be created based on the right criteria: aesthetics, space flexibility, environmental/sustainable requirements, energy use, durability, maintenance issues and value for money.

In 2011, cost was an important consideration and spaces were required to be more functional, compact and minimalist, explained Griño.

Jackson added interiors were specified to enhance space flexibility which promoted durable, easy to integrate fixings and finishes. The refurbishment fit-out market is steady, where clients are taking spaces and fitting them out to their own requirements. “Despite the financial situation companies still want quality systems and finishes as they are seeking to maxmise value from capital expenditure,” said Jackson.

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