What Lies Ahead?

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How quickly we acclimatise to even the most shocking and unexpected news and events. We’ve rapidly learned to take Brexit, Trump et al in our stride when, just 12 months ago, we feared the very worst. OK, that still may be to come, but for now we’re seeing a surprisingly upbeat and (dare we say it?) optimistic outlook from a lot of industry pundits.

Here, we ask key industry people about their own expectations for 2018. We’ve got a royal wedding and a World Cup to look forward to – so what’s not to be optimistic about?

Bronte Turner, HLW

I hope that 2018 is a year of creativity that harnesses the amazing advances in technology that are occurring globally.

The fear our industry as a whole has – of technology, data, new working environments and the future ‘workplace’ driven speed and reactive design in the last few years. My fear is that this continues to happen.

I hope that empathy and creative thought processes seep back into the core of our industry this year. Advances in technology should give us more time to focus on end users.

I’m excited to see what relevant design solutions our HLW team nurture in 2018 and the impact they will have on people and their experience of the spaces we create.

Rennie Dalrymple, Bruceshaw

Not even Brexit can stop the juggernaut of force that technology is, bringing with it seismic shifts in the way we live, work and play. External socio-political factors make our ability to influence a challenge, but as consultants we can control how we behave, react and help our clients to create true value. Our intellectual property is still valued but the role has to progress to that of a trusted adviser, working with our clients in a strategic role. Along with technology, innovation will have the last word and the role of the Project Manager and Cost Consultant must align to this as we assess how we can maximise our positive impact on all our commissions.

Mino Vernaschi, Orangebox

The next 12 months looks exciting. Whilst Brexit still hangs over us, giving an element of uncertainty, there are so many other markets and regions to focus on. Margins and costs will remain a big importance but, with the majority of our supply chain remaining local, we are able to keep this on track.

Mark Simpson, BDP

We live in uncertain times. This time last year we were coming to terms with having an orange-faced buffoon in the White House. I hope he is impeached before he starts WW3.

Brexit is still unclear. This time next year it probably won’t be any clearer to us or the people who supposedly supported it. A shambles all round. All we can do is keep our heads down – and I already know we will remain very busy.

Gary Thomas, Hunters Contracts

In contrast to my normal response to the Editor’s annual question regarding hopes and fears for the coming year – which is ‘I don’t know Mick, ask me one on sport’ – I can honestly say that I can’t remember feeling so positive about the prospects for the year ahead. Despite all the negativity surrounding Brexit and Trump, as well as the continued threat of terrorism in our great cities, there seems to be  a definite buzz of optimism everywhere. Fingers crossed for everyone and I hope I’m not back on the sports questions next Christmas!

Gary Helm, obo life

obo is authentic, educational and commercial – and will be focused on the physical and emotional wellbeing of people in the workplace. Partnering with Haworth, obo will look to uncover what matters – and why it matters. And how the things that matter affect business.

2018 will also continue to ask the question that has been asked for the last few years – will the Premiership trophy ever see red ribbons again?!?!

Mark Pearson, Heatons Office Solutions

Despite the continued wranglings of Brexit, I do feel there is a degree of optimism and confidence in our market. Competition for projects will continue to be strong, especially from multi-disciplined businesses, and we will all have to find ways to ‘stand out from the crowd’ to secure a client’s decision. I expect many UK manufacturers will need to continue the improvement of their design and manufacturing capabilities to be able to facilitate the fluid motions and trends within the co-working and biophilic workplace. In summary, it’s a new year with new challenges for us all, which we’ll undoubtedly hit head on – some of us may flinch and squirm and some of us will just plough on through…exciting times.

Robin Bayliss, Bisley

We can definitely see an extremely exciting 2018 ahead of us.  Continued growth in all our international sales offices, a good number of interesting large projects around the globe and an events calendar that’s jam-packed. Our expectations are again high for the export side of the business, as we give them the biggest investment in global marketing and product development for many, many years.

Alan Towns, Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge is full of optimism for 2018 – the market remains buoyant, up 10% on the last year (2016) and the pipeline looks good. Brexit isn’t affecting us due to our local supply chain, which protects us from currency fluctuations. We are currently working with new up and coming designers, such as Alys Bryan with Dizzi and Jason Lansdale with Elan – a product specifically for the hospitality and healthcare market – and we will be continuing to develop the Bebop collection with David Fox and extending the Alfie range with Sean Dare. Meanwhile, Lisa Gibbons also joins us this year, as part of our plan to extend our A&D sales team.

Jim Meier, Day2

First thoughts are…’Who knows?’

There still seems to be quite a lot of work around but just how robust this demand is remains to be seen. We are due a cyclical downturn at some point, so the question is whether a combination of Brexit and a government with a poor majority will bring this forward. We are still pushing forwards but ‘not going mad’.

Nick Lyons, Alpha Scotland

Well, barring the ongoing Trump Twitter spat, which I have to say is terrifying, I feel 2018 will be the pivotal year for the UK to finally find its identity. There has been too much political uncertainty since the economic uncertainty of 2007–2009 and I’m amazed at the reliance of businesses the length of the country to ‘just get on with it’.

One thing is for sure, the only certainty is uncertainty – but I feel very confident that business owners and leaders in the UK will continue to thrive in 2018, regardless of our politicians.

Lesley McPhee, The Hut Group

I think, looking forward to 2018 from a THG perspective, we now have 4,100 people worldwide, which is amazing and exciting. This in itself brings different cultures and languages into THG’s new Workplace DNA, which we will launch in 2018. Designing and writing this in tandem with our online brand has been rewarding and a privilege to be part of. Now the fun begins – delivering the concept with trusted partners around the world!