The theme of World Interiors Day 2021 is Design as a Global Conversation. Officially recognized on May 29, the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) is celebrating the role of design as a meaningful connector, bringing the world together to discuss, explore, evolve and adapt to change.
As active participants in the conversation, we asked members of our Interior Design Leadership Team to identify the key drivers of change during the last 12 months that have reshaped their approach to interior design for the long term. They identified six trends. Here’s what they said:
Creating a Sense of Community and Culture
This past year has allowed us to take a step back and focus on new opportunities in workplace design. Now, more than ever, we are seeing an emphasis on the sense of community and culture that the return to office will bring. With many employers moving to a hybrid work scenario, the time spent in the office will be extremely valuable and the design of the space must adapt to support these moments of collaboration.
Uniting the Hybrid Workplace
It seems that in every area of the commercial office, technology is becoming a main driver in how we design our spaces. We are rethinking meeting spaces, incorporating different types of technology to engage both remote and resident workers. Companies are reducing their footprint, modifying layouts and using technology to schedule spaces within the workplace. A successful workplace will always need a human connection. Combining technology with the physical experience will be a key driver in the design of a successful hybrid workplace.
Designing Healthy Spaces for Wellbeing
One thing we have all have in common is a newfound awareness of our health and how our environment plays a significant role in supporting our health in the workplace. On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors, so we need to design for people’s physical and mental well-being. That translates to a holistic approach that ranges from indoor air quality and clean desk protocols to daylighting and biophilia design to meet the needs of the building owner and its users. Flexible space design and configurations are key today – and for the future.
Since the spring of 2020, there has been more emphasis on designing with the well-being of building users in mind. Healthy buildings and spaces lead to increased cognitive function, higher productivity and better overall health. While we all strived to create healthy and comfortable spaces in the past, there have been other important elements added to my approach to interior design, such as mental wellness and life balance.
Communicating to Improve Productivity
Effective communication is a key attribute to a team and project’s success and is something we all consistently try to improve. Over the past year, communication has evolved into many different types of virtual platforms that allow us to share concepts, designs, and documentation seamlessly between offices and with our clients. With the implementation of virtual meetings and virtual communications, we have been able to improve productivity and decision-making.
Humanizing the Client Experience
Many of our clients have embraced virtual meetings whole heartily, recognizing the convenience and time savings with the elimination of travel time – and recent safety protocols. However, there is no virtual substitute for in-person collaboration for specific stages in a project including kick-off meetings to understand the personality of the team and the spirit of the project and finish presentations and selections where the visual and tactile human experience of materials help to convey the details and nuances of our designs.
Creating a Design Roadmap
Realizing the vulnerability of people and how much healing we can do through thoughtful interior design activating senses, has become very apparent. We have had to make our design thinking process more efficient, using real-time collaboration tools such as Autodesk Sketchbook & MIRO for sketching, linking visual words and images that trigger thoughts and ideas in other team members. Storytelling and creating a design roadmap to follow into concept design are now even more important than ever to advance design solutions.