Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, residential and public sectors.

An elegant, luxe workspace for Capital Sprints

The DSGN Studio has developed two schemes in one for the investment and advisory company, using artwork and sculptural elements to create a minimal, quietly confident space.

22/09/2020 5 min read

Interviews, opinions and profiles from industry experts

Creating a workplace that supports mental health: Rob Stephenson

The physical workplace is, for many people, a big part of what keeps people well, says the InsideOut founder.

22/09/2020 8 min read

Key industry articles and insights looking at the latest news from the world of commercial interior design

Schools back? How COVID-19 is affecting education property

The chaos surrounding A-level grading and university admissions in late August crowned a chaotic year for the UK’s higher education sector, David Thame considers.

22/09/2020 5 min read

Discover the latest and most innovative products curated by Mix Interiors.

New: Debut from Svensson

Marking the beginning of a new era for Svensson, Debut is manufactured from recycled ramie which is woven together with a wool mixture, merging together to create something different from a distance.

15/09/2020 2 min read

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Designing for people not pandemic: Jim Meier, Day 2 Interiors

“Flexible furniture now has a new function; instead of its original point of bringing people together, it will now be used to create separation.”

07/09/2020 4 min read
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of opinions on designing for people, not pandemic. Read more on the issues and challenges the industry is facing due to Covid-19.
For years now we’ve spoken with leading designers and end users about putting people at the heart of workplace design – so is there a danger that this will be thrown out of the window as businesses consider how to re-address their workspaces in light of the pandemic?
Is there also a danger that company ethos and culture (think sustainability, wellbeing etc) will be discarded in an effort to make spaces safe and suitable for people to return?
Is there a solution – or a series of solutions – that can help businesses ‘have it all’ – to allow their people to work safely, together, while not forgoing their company culture and beliefs? We believe there are – and we know the very people who can provide the answers.
Our final contribution comes from Jim Meier, Managing Director of furniture consultancy and provider, Day 2.

With this unprecedented start to the year, every brief has changed – and so will the end result. At Day 2 we always explore different approaches to different scenarios, rather than attempting to jump straight to finding a ‘solution’ from the outset of a project.

A key point we consider is that we are not actively changing the workplace – we are actively adapting the workplace. As an industry, we have amassed expertly designed workspaces, consciously designed, with meticulous thought put into the office landscape and wellbeing in the workplace, featuring hot desking and with flexible working at the core. So, the question is: Are these offices ready to be truly agile, and become mostly virtual workplaces?

To assume that a great end result can be achieved by applying cookie-cut design is wrong. Every business is different – in its function, its purpose and in its people. Moreover, changing the landscape of an office would change the way users perceive and behave within it, in turn influencing a change in the company culture that they have built through design within the space.

We can certainly foresee wellbeing focus changes. Having built focal points around fatigue, mental health and occupational health risks, we are now also adding the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Beyond the obvious focus on exemplary hygiene and directing the flow of people in spaces, furniture brings into consideration the finishes for all surfaces. Flexible furniture now has a new function; instead of its original point of bringing people together, it will now be used to create separation.

Since the pandemic hit, the light was very much taken from the big environmental challenge that we still are facing. Good reductions in our carbon footprints thus far can easily be undone.

We are learning daily what employees and businesses feel they need in order to function. Using this knowledge, we collaborate with them, and their appointed professionals, helping to guide them to the realisation of exciting spaces that represent their values as a business, as well as providing their employees with a desirable working environment.

Guiding doesn’t only mean guiding people to something. We also guide people away from things that won’t work. Since the pandemic hit, the light was very much taken from the big environmental challenge that we still are facing. Good reductions in our carbon footprints thus far can easily be undone. So perhaps we need to avoid ‘panic designing’ and cluttering the open office design with measures like non-recyclable, temporary screens.

The truth is; many things will not change in the design of workplaces. They simply won’t have as many people occupying them in future, but people will require more space per user. We know this because we know what the solution has been in beating the virus in the general populous: space and good hygiene.

On the things that certainly will change: Places of work will have new space planning guides applied, with more allowance given to personal space and less focus on collaborative nooks.

More thought will be given to the movement people take through spaces, so configurations will be adapted. Technology will (continue to) take a leap from quarterly used boardroom to daily essential resource. Offices may not always be occupied with the whole workforce, with the introduction of A/B or Red/Blue teams.

Technology may finally come to the forefront of our work – we can utilise tech to make us feel safe!  A leading saviour during the lockdown, allowing people that work at a computer to continue to be effective in their jobs and performing a vital role in helping stave off mental health issues by keeping people connected. This can now be translated through to the office; automated office design technology such as sensor doors, lifts and bathroom facilities, as well as space assessment technology providing data to show usage of space and warnings if signs of overcrowding. The norm may be virtual meeting room adaptations and limited numbers of team members within physical meeting rooms.

As many of us are still working from home, this does not necessarily mean the demise of the office. That same boom in apps like Teams, Zoom and Houseparty demonstrates just how sociability and the company of others is a vital element of work. And, while seeing faces on screens will do for now, the lure of chatting with colleagues and work buddies will pull people back to the office as soon as it is safe to do so.

All in all, if we build upon what we have been creating over these past years, absorb the usage of tech into our old (but forward) ways of working, we all will be truly ‘agile’.

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