The Big Question April 2017

Share this

Is the education sector ahead of the corporate workplace revolution?

Craig Whittet, Glasgow School of Art
In my experience, I would say no. This is based on a Health and Safety culture that tends to separate core activities, for example studios are becoming less like workshops and workshops are becoming less like studios. We only have to look at the success or ‘makerspaces’ to see how the removal of ‘barriers’ improves the culture and process of designing.

wayneWayne Taylor, space zero
I don’t think it would be fair to say that educational interiors are leading workplace design trends entirely, or vice versa, it’s just not that clean cut. Both sectors are actively developing and exploring future thinking that can easily transfer and be useful in other environments, but there is definitely cross-pollination and mutual learning, featuring common design strategies and products.

Tim - 2

Tim Forster, Apleona
I believe that historically, the education sector has been a driving force for the workplace revolution. The workplace had been moving in the same direction but generally at a slower pace. The education sector has been a catalyst to push the workplace design forward faster, this is partly to accommodate the learning styles of millennials moving into the corporate workforce. Both environments are designed to enrich the working experience, and this is why they have become joined up in their thinking.


Gavin King, SpaceInvader
We’ve found that the answer depends on specific organisations’ appetites to embrace potential. While some are very forward thinking in how they provide supportive learning environments, the education sector has a conservative tendency as the costs of failure are so high. However, the way that students adopt advances in technology drives change. They will expect to carry modern methods into the workplace, so employers will ignore this at their peril.

David Bigland - Colour

David Bigland, Itec Contract Floors
There has certainly been a shift towards more considered aesthetics for interior finishes and how they impact on the learning environment within education, but I don’t think you could say it is ahead of the workplace. For flooring finishes, the workplace still drives aesthetic principles, primarily because of favourable budgets leading to higher specification products, and as these trickle-down, education spaces benefit. That said, certain functional aspects, such as acoustics, have been driven by the education sector, with the corporate workplace benefitting.

Alan Ward

Alan Ward,  NCS Bisley
Workplace design is unique to the organisation in order to meet the demands of the individual business, whereas all primary education environments need to be conducive to the transfer of knowledge. Therefore, the major construction companies that control the process are able to build to a formula, that works but is unchallenged by the design community.