On April 10, Interior Design hosted another iteration of its Workplace Roundtable, an industry-focused discussion on the latest trends in commercial design. In an intimate gathering at the magazine’s New York City headquarters, 25 designers, manufacturers, and end-users analyzed and debated the opportunities and challenges of co-working spaces and what changes designers can stimulate in their clients and the workplace culture at large. Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen moderated the conversation.
Cindy began the event with a review of current workplace design data culled from the Top 100 Giants research and other sources. Workplace remains the number one segment that Giants firms are working on, but they’re experiencing some significant competition from co-working companies. In fact, according to the 2018 America’s Occupier Survey, 65% of small companies (with 50 employees or less) will consider using co-working spaces this year. That number is expected to grow by 85% by 2021.
Since co-working companies have begun to offer in-house design, manufacturing, and construction services, many of the participants felt that the above statistics could dramatically change the nature of the workplace sector and their own role in it. In order for the design firms to compete for commercial projects, they will need to come up with innovative ways to attract clientele that are drawn to the co-working model. Developing attractive amenities, flexible workstations, and dynamic programming—features found in co-working spaces like WeWork—will be necessary in the next stage of workplace design.
“We should be observant of what [co-working spaces] are doing,” said Lois Wellwood, associate director and firm-wide interiors practice leader at SOM. “Organizations are finally coming around to the idea that the design of a workspace really matters because they’ve seen the success of the WeWork model."
The group then launched into discussions on the changing nature of what brand tangibility means, the value of post-occupancy studies for architecture firms and their clients, and how technology can be utilized to develop more effective floor plans.
Cindy concluded the roundtable on a positive note, saying that today, workplace is one of the more dynamic segments out there. “It’s exciting that we can get jazzed up about office,” she said. “I feel like we’re in a moment in time when we’re seeing a radical transformation of the design world’s interpretation of the workplace.”
A special thanks to our sponsors for making the event possible.