As we head into a new decade, our senior designer, Kailee Lane takes the opportunity to discuss what awaits in the next season of office design.

Comfortable, domestic and people-focused; the workplace has come a long way from impersonal cubicles. Design has played a pivotal part in shifting focus from how an office simply functions to how it feels. Take a look at our top predictions for what design elements and finishing touches will become mainstream over the next 12 months. The evolution of the office is far from over…

Biophilia and nature

Biophilia: our innate affinity with the natural world. That sense of calm you feel when you’re surrounded by nature, whether it’s sitting in a leafy park or hearing waves crash against the shore. We love this trend, and incorporating natural elements into office design is definitely here to stay in 2020. I’m convinced it’ll become a staple of many workplace mood boards for the foreseeable future.

Plants not only add colour and texture to your design, but they also ensure better air quality for your employees. Whether you’ve incorporated potted orchids or a petrified moss wall, green accessories set the tone for a fresher space in every sense. Our recent fit out for The Body Shop is a great example of this. This homegrown, all-natural ethical brand is about getting closer to Mother Nature and enjoying what she has to offer. The Body Shop’s ethos is loud and clear when you set foot in its new reception space: a beautiful living wall with colour, depth and texture greets you. It’s almost as though you’ve stepped outdoors instead.

Reception biophilic design
Office plants

Tactile Walls

Plain painted walls are so 2019. Flat walls are out, tactile walls bursting with character are in. This upcoming trend gets us thinking about walls in a whole new way. More than just a way to divide a room, walls are now getting treated to textures to create a tactile experience.

From fabric coverings to embellished wallpaper and tiles, we know first-hand this design tactic is a stunning addition to any workplace. We used chunky exposed brickwork to create a 3D effect in our very own London office. One of my favourite things about using tactile wall coverings is how you can play with various lighting solutions to create interesting shadows, so each time you walk past the wall looks slightly different. Other benefits - in addition to creating an alternative focal point in the space - include sensory stimulation and noise absorption or deflection, depending on the materials used.

Noel Street Brick Wall in office
Noel Street Brick Cabinet in office

Organic Shapes

Traditional offices are full of harsh lines and sharp angles. Look around your workspace and you’ll see four-sided shapes everywhere. We’ve created square spaces in rectangular buildings furnished with desks and furniture to match. Now it’s time to soften the edges. We predict a rise in the use of curvy organic shapes, just like those we’d typically see in nature. Consider the curves of a leaf or rounded bends of a pebble, these lines can create a more welcoming atmosphere when used in an office.

Morgan Sindall Group’s new workplace has possibly the best illustration of how organic shapes can complete a design. We designed and commissioned a huge, bespoke timber tree and planted it boldly in the middle of the office. Its branches extend through the space along the ceiling bringing attention from around the room back into the centre, the trunk. Below, a bank of seats with lovely curvature mimics the organic shapes overhead. A complete break from the norm and visually interesting, there’s so much scope for what can be achieved by replacing angles with curves.

morgan sindall biophilic office reception
Morgan Lovell reception design ideas
timber tree in biophilic office design

Oversized lighting

Another tactic for softening spaces is to use oversized lighting, whether pendants, exposed bulbs or lamps. I love this trend for so many reasons. Oversized lights help define a space and give wayfinding clues, which is one of the reasons we used a lovely big red lampshade in the Alan Turing Institute’s British Library office.

This eye-catching feature brands the area underneath as a breakout space, helps with deflecting wayward noise reverberations and provides something of interest in your eye-line. Oversized lights are a must for large footprints not only as an accessory that breaks up the space but as a talking point to vary the repetition of desks.

Alan Turing breakout area fit out

Neon lighting

Luminous signage isn’t just for late-night diners and the Las Vegas strip any more. Neon lights aren’t practical for lighting a room but they’re surprisingly durable and have a sort of nostalgic air, similar to that of a pinball machine or old school jukebox.

Walking past Anomaly’s new Clerkenwell office you can’t help but notice the bright neon ‘A’ in the window. Bold and fun, neon lights are a great way to express your brand’s personality without breaking the bank. They create depth, add colour and can be layered with other accessories to style a space without much effort.

Watch the full webinar with Kailee