Workplace design is an ever-evolving art as much as a science. From their physical layout -- closed vs. open spaces, for example -- to the color of the walls and the arc of the lighting, scientists and designers are constantly at work to improve American offices for the planet, human health, and corporate productivity. Top office designers are predicting several strong trends in the industry for 2017:
1. Increase in co-working mentality
With the rise of the start-up culture came a boom in "co-working" spaces, with landlords taking an increasingly active role.. "Landlords are beginning to break their spaces up into a co-working organizational format, and collect the fees for these renovations directly from the renter," explains Anne Kniffen, Principal at lauckgroup. "This new trend leads to higher returns, but still lends risk to the landlord of not being able to fill a space to capacity."
As of 2017, landlords will do more than just split up space. "Co-working is not just a response to working with others; it's the access to amenities and the ability to plug into an outside environment," say Michael Horton and April Warner, Senior Project Managers at lauckgroup. "Being in the right location gives staff the agility to access specialized spaces as well as an array of lifestyle amenities. Makerspaces and enrichment spaces are just a few examples of experience-based designs that engage and support an individual's productivity."
Big companies are getting into the game too. "Co-working is not just an option for an individual in need of a desk, but rather a new attitude and style of working," says Jeff Miller, VP of Design at Poppin. "Companies are now inviting outsiders to co-work in their offices, and sending workers outside the office to co-work elsewhere. This fluidity of staffing creates a sense of community and leads to an exchange of information and upped creativity."
2. Movement toward separate, private retreats
As office layouts continue to trend towards more open workspaces, not everyone loves the new designs. "Not only are some employees complaining about the lack of privacy in an open office floor plan, but the square footage of the actual workspace designated to any one employee continues to get smaller," says Steve Delfino, VP of Corporate Marketing and Product Design at Teknion. "In 2017, we will see more furniture specifically designed to offer modern workers flexibility and privacy from the distractions of the open space workplace. We will notice a larger movement towards separate spaces and the creation of areas that offer employees who want them places to retreat from noisy work stations."
3. Return to elegance: the mid-century design era
Maybe Gatsby era glitter is still lingering in the air, but mid-century design will continue to be hot in 2017. "The 21st century office has quickly become predictable in its design," says Jeremy Levitt, Co-founder of Parts and Labor Design. "Too often, we're seeing the same youthful millennial-driven concepts that make some spaces look and feel more like adult teenagers' rooms than offices. In a new co-working space we are designing in NYC, our intention is to bring back the elegant tones and attractive materials of the mid-century era, while integrating intuitive technology with modern industrial accents."
4. Story, detail and character inform lighting fixtures:
Walk into an office, and the first thing you'll most likely notice will not be the lighting -- but modern designers are thinking hard about how to illuminate the office of the future. "You are really starting to see the blurring of aesthetic and functional lines across offices, residential uses and hospitality settings, as businesses cater to a transient working culture and a millennial mindset.These employees expect that their behavior, preferences and expression will remain largely unaltered across work and play environments alike," says Shant Madjarian, founder of Juniper. "What that means for office lighting is a need for warmer finishes, mixed materials and more story, detail and character underlying each choice. However," Madjarian clarifies, "we are not seeing a corresponding decrease in the need for advanced system-based lighting systems. The key is to blend it all together into a seamless and highly functional whole."