Office design: Four factors that can transform your work space

With regional experts weighing-in on current office design trends, Commercial Interior Design explores a number of issues that are affecting workplaces.

The latest Ventures ME report, prepared for this year’s Index exhibition, shows that the GCC interiors and fit-out spend in the commercial sector is expected to be worth $1.06bn in 2017, which is an increase from $787m over last year. Among the GCC countries, the report claims, KSA ($335m) is likely to register the highest interiors, and fit-out spend followed by the UAE ($250m) and Kuwait ($203m) in 2017.

The Brody WorkLounge from Steelcase is available at OFIS.

The report indicates that sustainability, wellness, and employee engagement will continue to be major influences in office design throughout the year.

Looking at recently completed office projects in the region, such as LinkedIn Dubai office by Perkins + Will, Chanel office in d3 by Bluehaus Group, Pandora ME by Xworks or Virgin Mobile by Schwitzke & Partners, an open-plan remains a prevalent concept for modern workspaces. However, many companies are now diversifying their offices to include private areas where staff can work without being disturbed. In the last few years, we’ve also witnessed the emergence of co-working spaces with breakout areas, taking centre stage of design schemes.

Ben Woods, general manager at OFIS, with brands including Steelcase and Interface, says that the international industry trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers (BIFMA) is updating its categories to reflect this.

The Brody WorkLounge creates a shelter from visual distractions.

“Today, work happens more quickly and in more places as developing technologies offer variety and mobility to a growing community of creative workers,” says Woods. “As the dividing lines between departments and tasks are blurred, the desire for flexibility and comfort in the office is driving a shift toward more informal spaces that go beyond the traditional desk-and-task-chair combination.”

The changes in employee demographics and their attitudes toward work, swayed by technology advancements, affect the way designers approach office interiors.

Woods says that many companies tend to invest in technology and space as separate entities rather than approaching them holistically.

“Today, people need an ecosystem of interrelated places and devices to support the different stages and activities of creative work. A diverse ecosystem includes mobile and integrated technology, as well as spaces designed for individual ‘me’ work and ‘we’ group work,” he says.

Interface’s new Contemplation and Multichrome collections take the lead from the timeless simplicity of Scandinavian interiors.

BIOPHILIC DESIGN

Stressing the importance of nature-driven design, Interface, a modular carpet manufacturer launched DesignLab, a series of workshops on biophilic design. Since 2014, the company has been studying the subject of biophilic design, working with organisational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper to determine its effect on workspaces. Results showed that natural design increases workers’ well-being by 15%, creativity by 15% and productivity by 6%.

“Maximising natural light, introducing greenery and nature-inspired materials are all biophilic design techniques that can have positive impact on both staff well-being and productivity and are easy to incorporate into the general office design,” comments Matt Hall, regional manager at Interface.

World Woven Collection by Interface.

Hall further explains that when designing office spaces, the whole human approach must be considered and catered for in the workplace.

“Unusual furnishings and bold art installations can give an office a playful feel, as can flooring through the use of bold colour schemes and distinctive textures,” says Hall. “Accent tiles that mirror colours in walls or furniture, or blocks of bright hues and striking patterns, can also help to inject energy and personality into the space.”

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