Four Trends for 2017

We look forward to 2017 with great enthusiasm. We continue to see the individual being the first thought in office design. How we impact them, how we can support how they work and how we can make them healthy and comfortable. This human centred approach to office design is changing the conversation and the outcome is exciting. These needs are also elevating the role of the designer in the process as they have the true skills to make these lofty goals a reality. 

Teknion has been taking a long, close look at trends because we believe that design is a powerful tool for shaping environments, cultures, values and experiences – and thus, also shaping the future. 

 

 

Corporate cultures

With no loss of entrepreneurial energy, we are beginning to see a maturing of work culture as even young start-up staff members become more deeply invested in a company’s philosophy, mission and goals. People now grasp the fact that radical creativity is not dependent upon perks like a smoothie bar, foosball and ping-pong tables. It’s about being fully engaged in a community in which everyone is trusted to do his or her job and to do it well. It more about having a clear sense of individual and collective purpose, about being committed to making the corporate vision actionable.

A strong and mature culture is one in which everyone participates and has a say, but also one in which responsibility forms part of the program. When workers feel trusted, when their ideas are valued, they are naturally more confident and inclined to work harder. Hard work, responsibility and commitment are very grown up words, but there is a strong sense that even the sheltered generation that came to be known as the Millennials is now beginning to get serious about life and work. We believe that this trend may have a profound effect on how tomorrow’s workplace is conceived and designed.

 

The new workplace sustainability

Within the context of a broader cultural shift, Teknion began to investigate more deeply the meaning of sustainability in the workplace, the community and the planet—and to propose a fundamental connection of human, economic and environmental health. We have examined how people interact with the built environment—a city street, a building, a personal workspace—and how these environments enhance or compromise human vitality and health. 

In a sustainable workplace, fresh air and sunlight are givens, as are strategies to reduce consumption of resources and to prevent the creation of waste. Equally, a sustainable workspace encourages physical activity, supports mental acuity and employs materials, finishes and furnishings that contribute to a safe, comfortable space that is “good for people and other living things.” As an interdisciplinary process that occurs within the context of social and environmental ethics, we believe in the potential of design to effect real transformation, to create buildings and spaces that can act as a catalyst to sustainable health at all scales.

 

Multi-sensory environments
(how a space
makes you feel)

Whether carefully designed or haphazard, every space is perceived through our five senses and each evokes a positive or negative psychological and physiological response to the flood of sense impressions. As sensitive human beings, the net effect of perceiving and interpreting multiple stimuli is to embrace (or avoid) a “feeling” or an emotion, to feel at ease and engaged or uneasy and uncomfortable.

In the past, the places we lived felt very different from the places we worked. Home was warm and welcoming. The office was driven primarily by technology, function and economics. Recently, however, the qualities of home have migrated into the office via color and texture, materials and shapes, detail, natural and artificial light, and even sound or scent, that are used in new and imaginative ways to create warm and humane work environments. We are seeing a new and rich use of materials, a recognition that human beings experience the world not only through our eyes and intellect, but also through our body and emotions. 

 

Designing experience

Design plays a meaningful role in shaping experience. In terms of products, the people at Apple are highly skilled at designing tools that elicit a strong emotional response and attachment. Interior designers, too, leverage design to create positive aesthetic, psychological and physiological responses across the spectrum of spaces where people work, learn and connect in the workplace. Reception areas create a sense of welcome and ease; workstations use seating, surface and surround to help people feel comfortable and focused, while group areas may be energized with and quiet spaces can feel calm with biomorphic elements in the mix. 

We believe that this subject deserves further exploration, offering the potential as it does for arranging elements in such a way as to create happier, healthier people who are more creative, more productive, irrespective of whether they are at work or elsewhere. To quote Charles Eames, “Who ever said that pleasure wasn’t functional?” Why not create pleasurable experiences then?