Contemporary Office Design
By Lisa October 7th, 2013
There is an emerging trend in office design and office furniture design that really captures the way residential architecture started heading in the 1980’s. Remember when all the rooms is our houses were cut off from each other like a “Leave It To Beaver” house? Then the walls came down and the “open concept” was born. More places to connect with family members, kitchens that were the hub of activity and not just for cooking, bedrooms that got smaller in exchange for 2nd floor loft spaces at the top of the stairs or over the garage are all elements of this aesthetic. The mobility of technology increases the function of this type of layout because your computer, be it a laptop, notebook, tablet or smartphone goes with you wherever you are. Homework can be done anywhere as can paying the bills, making appointments or reading for pleasure. Apparently the millennials are taking this togetherness to work. New work spaces are being designed to encourage collaboration and casual conversations. Workers take their technology away from their desks to other parts of the office for a different view. Office furniture is in the early stages of reflecting this – industries that are creative by nature are losing desks all together in favor of large common work tables (like the kitchen table) and many small gathering areas for spontaneous meetings when a good idea pops up. Even the chairs are being rethought- stand up treadmill desks and comfort over show.
Steelcase has even designed a chair after doing a posture study that showed all the ways we sit when we’re using technology (my mother would be appalled!). This new chair, called the Gesture, accommodates sitting, slouching and reclining all while looking like a contemporary desk chair (not futuristic, not weird). Even the arms are adjustable to a higher than usual height to accommodate the arms of a reader leaning way back. (Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCmkKMBRZKI)
Other personal lifestyle choices are affecting these new offices as well. The desire to go easy on the environment is leading to a less is more architectural approach. Exposed beams, fewer walls and an effort to use responsible materials are leading to a contemporary but warm feeling in these spaces. Cubicles, never popular with those of us that sat or sit in them, may have hit their peak and will start to decline.
I wonder what will happen to the office bathrooms – Chroma-therapy perhaps?