Five Design Trends to Watch in 2015


In the architecture and design business, change is the name of the game. No matter how innovative an idea is, in order to create offices our clients will love as much today as they will a decade from now, we need to think about how things will change moving forward. Here are five trends to watch in 2015.

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Mobile and Flexible: People want more control over how, where and when they work. Smart business owners–and even commercial real estate developers–should listen up. Spaces should become more “location agnostic,” meaning they can readily accommodate new technologies and remote workers.

Among our own client roster, two firms have asked to go completely wireless.  Increasingly collaborative work environments have led to greater use of shareware–or “cloud” software–and design elements that allow for impromptu gatherings.

The changes are based on research. A JLL survey, for instance, found that more than 90 percent of companies were planning to invest more in technology between 2012 and 2015. The “tech spend” trend shows no sign of abatement. Gordon Feller, a global urban innovation leader at CISCO, said, “These emerging technology trends are powering a new economic age and driving the expediency of borderless networks as the fundamental infrastructure for future innovation and opportunity.” Sectors that will be particularly impacted by such changes include financial services, media and telecommunications.

Wide Open: A by-product of collaboration is the proliferation of open work spaces. In a Commercial Observer column in early December, I wrote how more and more of our clients are asking to open up their offices by eliminating or reducing items such as file cabinets that take up valuable floor space. Instead, they want to create “town square” gathering areas and hubs, utilize stadium seating and even install game rooms and pantries.

Design Matters: The hip factor is more important than ever, both for recruiting and retaining talent and for attracting clients. Architects and interior designers are being tasked with creating cool environments that feature clever layouts and fun amenities like snack bars.

Less Hierarchy: Today’s workforce is not bound by the same rules as previous generations. The traditional office structure has given way to a kind of decentralized hierarchy, where the contributions of even the most junior team members are valued. These changes will be reflected in more transparent design elements: Think glass where there were once walls.

Waste Not: Hail the year of efficiency! Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), defined by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as “a project delivery method that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices” into a collaborative–yes, that word again–process,  means that businesses will continue to reduce waste (of time, resources and square footage). Even within the construction industry, shared cloud technology has streamlined the way a project goes from concept to completion. Those on the client side stand to benefit with a speedier, smarter delivery of the finished product.

Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.