A global perspective on corporate interior design
By Dorothy van’t Riet, founder of DVR Design & Décor Consultants

We are no longer just designing environments – we are designing experiences.

We have moved beyond the open plan and are now designing by “enhancing the engagement and empowering the experience”.

Over the past two decades, corporate interior design has evolved to become more team-based, with an emphasis on creating a sense of belonging. The main shift is from a “me” identity to a “we”.

In the office planning realm, spatial layouts and space utilisation have progressed from private offices and cubicles to miles of open-plan workstations. This progressed to Activity-Based Working (ABW) spaces where offices are designed around the specific tasks that people do and not assigned spots for individuals, creating a buzz of activity in certain zones with quieter areas for focus.

NCA Space, Courtesy of HOK Architects


This unassigned seating encourages movements and people to select the right setting for the task at hand.

The trend then moved from these ABW spaces and got further subdivided into “neighbourhoods” that enable people to nest, huddle and feel a sense of belonging, while still having access to diverse work settings. We refer to this as Neighbourhood Choice Environments (NCE).

In this NCE trend we have “unplugged” spaces, where it is a main support space, reception, restaurant and cafes; connected spaces, such as enclosed meeting rooms; alternative zones of open activity-based solutions as well as base zones or open plan workstations.

NCE – Neighbourhood Choice Environments are team-based, with a sense of belonging with a variety of task-based settings for highly mobile teams.

The next shift will be towards Maker Environments Mobile Occupants (MEMO), as well as immersive environments. Immersive spaces are tailored to create environments that reflect the DNA of the company. These are tailored, curated solutions that will provide access to community resources and amenities. It is about creating function-driven, human-centric, experimental spaces.

NCA Space, courtesy of HOK Architects


Staying the same is not an option
In our fast-moving society, we are seeing more and more designers bringing experience-based designs into work environments.

Workplaces have thus gone from being static environments to people moving through spaces that are designed experiences, which at the same time reflect the needs of the organisation and its people.

Advancements in technology also support this movement in workplaces, with spaces that suit the daily activities, meetings, individual work and team collaboration, learning, socialising and rejuvenation, creating a cultural sense of belonging and identity.

At DVR, the focus has been to create fluid arrangements which liberate teams from the confinement of walled rooms for each function. We have found that this encourages people to be flexible and less place dependent.

MEMO Spaces, courtesy of HOK Architects


People-focused spaces
We have also seen how people are attracted to spaces with natural sunlight. In fact, globally, light, colour and textured materials are being used to create healthy environments that improve performance and productivity.

Team-centred work environments with design models that suit the nature of the work and support different working styles and postures – these allow people to connect, find a sense of belonging, self-sufficiency and confidence, which in turn fosters innovation, productivity and creativity in problem solving.

Globally, the focus is to create a visual platform that enables teams to work within highly productive, stimulating and creative environments, thus achieving the goals of turning purpose into practice. In doing this, the main goal is to develop and enhance the experience of the space by ensuring that there are many touch points with employee wellness. Ultimately, it is all about the work experience.

Dorothy van’t Riet Design & Décor Consultants
Tel: 011 783 6000
Email: dorothy@dvr.co.za or bernard@dvr.co.za
Website: www.dvr.co.za

Main image: ABW Spaces, Images courtesy of HOK Architect, www.hok.com


Download Workplace Evolution Graph: http:// Workplace-Evolution-Horizontal-2.pdf

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