On November 20, Interior Design and Patcraft hosted a roundtable discussion, complete with wine and cheese, in the carpet manufacturer’s Manhattan showroom to posit the future of workplace design. Interior Design’s Managing Director Helene Oberman and Patcraft VP of Creative and Design Shannon Cochran kicked off the conversation by asking attendees how they would approach workplace projects if granted an unfathomable wish, i.e. unlimited resources.
Answers ranged from incorporating functional kitchens and multi-faceted wellness rooms to taking experiential design to the next level with mobile, perhaps airborne, offices enabling all employees to travel as often as leadership. Yet even an endless budget leaves a core pain point on the table—the element of time. Designers agreed it is vital to step out of the office (and away from technology) to explore art museums, botanical gardens, and other stimulating environments in search of fresh inspiration.
The more often clients are willing to join such excursions, the better. Investing ample time with them during a project's ideation stage tends to smooth out processes later on, but transparency about this approach is key. "We can't be more collaborative, and also work faster," says Nina Etnier, founding partner at Float Studio. "We need to do what we can to be honest about that."
Over the course of two hours, the industry-focused discussion touched on topics ranging from generational divides in work habits to ways design can enhance company culture. Ultimately, the conversation circled back to the initial wish lists shared for designing sans budgets. After all, architecture and design workplaces serve as incubators for innovations and ideas that trickle into larger projects.
"We get inspired by you, so we'd like to hear what inspires you," Chelsie St James, marketing director for A&D at Patcraft, told the room. The roundtable discussion succeeded in doing just that, shedding light on where and how concepts for striking environments originate and what we can expect as the workplace continues to take on new shape and form.