'Home Sweet Office'
by Rhiannon Phillips, Interior Designer
Workspaces are increasingly becoming influenced by elements of the residential sector. The appeal of homely spaces are driving designers to create welcoming and flexible offices that encourage workers to thrive and develop within the company. A variety of zones containing soft furnishings that reflect aspects of the home are proving to be key to creating areas that enable workers to unwind and rejuvenate. As design trends are mirroring aspects of the home, how far will these lines blur in the furture?
Workspace aesthetics are moving away from the characteristics of a traditional office. Instead of a series of offices and segregated areas, designers are evolving their designs around open plan spaces, collaborative zones and tranquilising breakouts. The work hierarchy is becoming less obvious as those at the higher end are moving into the open plan, ultimately creating a stronger sense of equality and teamwork in the workspace. The introduction of warm and comforting elements are intended to encourage workers to feel at ease, further increasing the levels of productivity and efficiency.
Suppliers are continuously creating new products that reflect home comforts. British furniture company, Frövi, have mastered breakout furnishings. Since 1976, the company have embraced Scandinavian styles, producing simplistic and minimalistic creations that form the ultimate social space. As stated on their website, ‘Workspaces are now much more than places where people work – they should be social environments that stimulate success. Frövi furniture contributes to spaces that excite and inspire – supporting peoples’ agile working practices today and into the future.’ Emphasising the importance of high-quality furniture, Frövi are dedicated to create spaces that soften a corporate environment and provide a calming atmosphere for workers. A prime example of this is the Jig Settee. Features including oak frames and upholstered buttons, this soft seating product portrays a strong homely feel and contrasts a clinical and cold corporate space.
Similarly, office furniture supplier Sven Christiansen produce a vast array of high quality furniture of which is designed and manufactured in the UK. As shown in the image below, Sven offer an extensive portfolio portraying a spectrum of products that can help transform a space into a welcoming and dynamic working environment. From meeting booths to high bars, these products become design features in a workspace and enable workers to break away from the desk. These styles of furniture encourage people to work collaboratively as well as to relax and rejuvenate.
A company which has nailed the concept of collaboration is global manufacturer, Orangebox, ‘The Smartworking Company’. Established in 2002, Orangebox produce a wide range of contemporary furniture that enable agile working. One of the company’s collections is even called ‘Away from the Desk’, a range which promotes upholstered booths to give people the flexibility to move away from their fixed workstation. The reasoning behind this concept is down to the ever changing workplace. Companies are moving away from the traditional office layout and workers are increasingly working away from their fixed locations. Due to the rapid development of technology, this is enabling people to work anywhere, anytime. Orangebox are creating furniture that are adaptable with the constant changing working environment. Workspaces are becoming less formal and less clinical with the help of these suppliers. These products immediately add warmth and comfort to corporate environments and enable workers to unwind and revive.
Similarly to Frovi, Sven and Orangebox, Kvadrat produce a vast array of products that soften the corporate environment. A major global manufacturer of textiles, Kvadrat produce fabrics for private and public sectors. Founded in Denmark in 1968, the company has a broad portfolio boasting a spectrum of high quality textiles, from upholsteries to curtains to rugs. Personal favourites consist of Bright Angle, Bright Grid and Bright Cube, shown below. These particular fabrics are design features in themselves and add a contemporary and geometric twist to any piece of furniture. These bold colours and bright prints can light up any corporate space.
British manufacturer, Camira Fabrics, is a global company that make over 8 million metres of fabric per year, providing for both commercial and public sectors. The ‘Nettle Nomad’ range particularly portrays traditional attire with designs based on the dogtooth’s check print. This historic pattern originated in Scotland during the 1800s, featuring on menswear such as blazers and hats. The technical weaving design reflects a sense of high quality and classical elements. Camira successfully add a contemporary twist to the traditional print, creating a selection of designs with bold colours. A personal favourite from the ‘Nettle Nomad’ range is Journey, shown below. Combining the traditional pattern with a bold contemporary shade, this fabric adds a classical and warm touch to furniture, ultimately softening corporate environments.
The acclaimed dogtooth print also features in Interface’s ‘World Woven’ range, portrayed with an array of neutral shades from greys to browns. Interface are a global company that manufacture carpet tiles for the commercial sector, providing innovative and striking designs for social spaces. Alongside the ‘World Woven’ range, Interface have also produced an organic carpet that portrays a strong residential feel. The ‘Human Nature Collection’ boasts natural elements through a contrasting range of bold and neutral shades. These textured and detailed tiles form tranquilizing work and breakout spaces, fundamentally reflecting aspects of the home. Due to the array of bold colours, this collection is often used as feature carpet to distinguish different zones within the workplace. As seen below, this range can appear rug-like, constrasting the traditional office carpet tile and ultimately softening the typical corporate office settings. A variety of engaging textures and colours enable work spaces to break away from formality and into a more calming, relaxing environment.
According to Nicola Osborn, design director of London based Architecture Studio, MoreySmith, states in Quartz, that ‘diverse environments are key to fostering a collaborative and creative work environment.’ It appears that aesthetically pleasing interiors are key to attracting and retaining workers. This concept should ultimately drive and encourage employers to invest in the interiors of their business, creating spaces that meet the needs and desires of current and future employees.
All of these factors prove to be valuable utensils to achieving a relaxed work environment. Employers and designers are increasingly becoming aware of the popularity and importance of welcoming and calming workspaces. Workers need to feel comfortable within their workplace in order to be productive and efficient, and ultimately be encouraged to remain and develop within the business. Traditional offices are clearly being gradually dismissed, while open plan, collaborative workspaces are becoming highly desired. Encouraging interaction amongst employees and creating homely environments is becoming the key concept of design proposals. The differences between the home and office are becoming less clear to distinguish as suppliers are manufacturing residential-like products. Aspects of the home are driving designs as harsh corporate environments become softened by warm and comforting elements. Designers are continuously creating spaces that allow for destressing and unwinding, encouraging staff to feel contentment and happiness at work. Alien and unfamiliar environments can cause discomfort whilst friendly and familiar environments allow workers to feel at ease. Homelike features and familiar surroundings are key characteristics behind a happy and positive workplace.