By Nancy Jackson, president Architectural Systems
It was evident that after attending this year’s NeoCon that collaborative work environments and the creation of social spaces are a definite design trend. This means the lines are blurring between workspaces, and the decrease of the cubicle enhances interactions and invites connective experiences among employees. Today’s companies desire offices that will foster creativity, and the bar is being raised to design comfortable areas to work in. To meet these demands, influences from the hospitality industry are driving corporate design today. Flexible hotel lobby inspired social areas — or as it is now popularly coined “the third space” — encourage teamwork, strategizing and even relaxation.
To support this new direction in corporate design, distinctive, innovative and sustainable materials are installed to encourage optimum workplace engagement. Offering a variety of unassigned places to support teamwork on diverse projects calls for impressive interior finishes complementing the “fun” lounge-like furniture selected. At the Knoll NeoCon showroom, renowned hospitality design firm Rockwell Group created Rockwell Unscripted, a new office furniture line. This starts the dialog for designers to rethink traditional flooring choices and be more in line with selecting materials they would choose for branded environments, such as hospitality properties.
Popular choices making the move from hospitality and retail to the modern workplace include resilient, hardwood and porcelain. On the resilient side, luxury vinyl simulating wood grains, concrete and natural stone offer sound absorbing qualities, a fresh aesthetic, ease of maintenance and a longer life cycle than carpet or carpet tile. Another benefit with luxury vinyl that incorporates state of the art technology in its construction is the ability to install over existing hard surfaces without removing the flooring, making it less labor intensive while contributing to sustainability.
Hardwoods also support the trend of making a bold statement in corporate design with improved UV urethane coatings and engineered construction. Contemporary color palettes that include ultra-matte and metallic finishes on a range of exotic and domestic species translate this idea seamlessly. And porcelains are quickly becoming a go-to corporate flooring option, providing a high-performing product solution for any third space design. Whether it’s a minimalist, monolithic effort or capturing the veining inherently found in natural stone for an emotive appeal, porcelain is pushing creativity in all new workspaces.
Regardless of the type of floor being specified, taking the best from hotel lobbies is the evident trend spotted in corporate design today. After all, every office has a grab-and-go coffee station. We can expect to see more hospitality influences to pop up as the workplace continues to evolve into a space where we live, work and play.