As you would expect, we are constantly looking at what’s trending right now as well as what is right around the corner for office environments. We do this in a number of ways, online research, trade magazines and visiting our suppliers both in Ireland and abroad (it’s a tough life!) to name a few. The best thing about our trips to supplier workshops is the tactile experience. When we visit a furniture producer, we get to see not only the process involved in creating these pieces, but we get to see how the finished product really looks. This is important because the products we provide can come in many different iterations, e.g. a chair can be supplied on castors, or a sled leg or a round-leg or a 4-legged variation! All of this means that we are well placed to see what’s happening not only at home but across Europe and the rest of the world when it comes to modern office layouts. With this in mind, here are 5 trends we love that are happening in office furniture right now.

FLEXIBLE FURNITURE

This year we have seen an increase demand for furniture that can adapt to different needs in the office, thus creating a more flexible space. Having an area in your office with a media bench for example, means a small team can break away from the open plan office to discuss an upcoming project without disturbing the rest of the staff. A media bench with an integrated screen is also ideal for an ad-hoc Powerpoint presentation without the need for booking out a meeting room. Speaking of meeting rooms, we can see that more and more of our customers now are looking at integrated power and data functionality from their meeting room tables. This means that the table isn’t just a table anymore, it can become a large desk which multiple users can work from at one time. Breakout sofas can now also be used as informal interview spaces thanks to the high and wing back variations which can provide privacy and sound absorption in an open plan environment.

GOING GREEN

Bringing nature indoors to the office environment isn’t exactly a new movement. Companies have been introducing potted plants and shrubbery for years now. The past two years however have seen the development of ‘moss walls’ or ‘living walls’ becoming a widely accepted feature of modern offices. Along with newer trends like stone finishes and raw wood, a feature like a moss wall has a calming influence on staff and is thought to improve concentration levels and have a positive impact on productivity. A ‘home-inspired’ vibe in the office also adds to employee comfort and ultimately satisfaction.

CHOICE OF DESKTOPS

Once upon a time, you could have any colour desk you liked, as long as it was Beech (to paraphrase Henry Ford). It the mid to late 2000’s white was introduced and revolutionised how open plan offices could look. White allowed for a brighter looking space and a desk that felt bigger than traditional ones. A big benefit to white desking was that it could be complemented by any other pop of colour from a divider screen, office chair, carpets or sofas. While we still promote white for a lot of projects, finishes like Carini Walnut, Mocha and Wenge add a sophisticated and elegant finish where required by our clients. People are becoming bolder in their colour choices and pairing dark wood desking with a some natural yet vibrant fabrics makes for a cool, calming environment which also catches the eye of visitors to your space.

CONCENTRATION SPACES

While open plan offices are the norm, the challenge for companies now becomes how to eliminate distractions for employees. Breakout areas are popular for use as a space for people to leave their desk and focus on the task in hand. Equally they can also be used as an area for a team to congregate and discuss a shared project or simply take a 5 minute break without having to go to the canteen area. To maximise the potential for concentration, we can see the rise of furniture which can be partially enclosed such as a high back sofa with a canopy or a Pod with glass partitioning. These also fit the bill as ‘flexible furniture’ as we discussed earlier. Another benefit to employees is that they can now have a space to take personal calls when needed and join in video conference calls in peace.

ACOUSTICS

Acoustic systems come in many forms now; they can be hung from the ceiling, installed on walls or as freestanding floor screens. Many systems are now made of a special sound-dampening material and are especially effective for eliminating distraction and enhancing productivity in open floor plan workspaces. Depending on whether your goal is to reduce noise interference, eliminate annoying echoes or create more privacy, there is a system available. What is especially pleasing now is how the wall tiles in particular, can be used to create visually stimulating works of art. When used in conjunction with fabrics which correspond with a companies corporate colours, an eye-catching display can be formed. Trending in 2019 we have also seen an increase in acoustic curtain systems, which can function as partitioning along with the acoustic properties.