What are the Luxurious Modern Office Interior Design Trends of 2021?

Working in the interior fit out industry, we see new office design trends emerging every year, with business owners and landlords on a mission to make their spaces more modern, more enjoyable, more productive, more motivating, and so on and so on.

In 2019 – prior to the pandemic – as fit out contractors we noticed a number of big design trends popping up amongst offices across the country. We saw things like pops of colour to liven up dull and tired spaces and energise teams. We saw the widespread roll out of green offices that created a kind of ‘bring the outside in’ vibe. And we saw how open plan workspaces were gradually being transformed into’ zoned’ areas.

But now that we’re more than a year into the biggest crisis the world has ever seen, trends are changing. This year – 2021 – we’re seeing the emergence of new office interior trends that are certainly as luxurious as ever, but are less urgently focused on productivity and motivation, and more on supporting employees through improved collaboration, hybrid working solutions, sustainability, and productive enhancements.

Drivers of Change

Of course, while 2020 was the start of the remote revolution, the implementation of WFH and hybrid working policies were introduced as emergency responses to an unforeseen situation, and were rarely rolled out in a way that was practicable and sustainable.

Now that we’re more than a year into the ‘new normal’, businesses are now trying to build these new ways of working into not only their processes, but also their office design. And that’s really what’s been the primary driver of 2021’s new – and sometimes unprecedented – luxurious modern office interior design trends emerging today.

Popular Fit Out Solutions for 2021

Of course, interior design is very personal, and we see massively different trends across different organisations, working in different industries, and communicating a different message to their employees, customers, and clients. However, this year we can clearly see a few luxurious trends that are arising out of our adaptation to the ‘new normal’:

Human-Centric Interior Design

It’s no secret that the pandemic has shifted perceptions and priorities, and one of the biggest changes taking place in business today is the move from business-focused to employee-focused operations. This is showing through in office interior design, too.

If you’ve ever seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this explains things nicely. The hierarchy is a pyramid of everything we as humans need to survive, from basic aspects like natural light and fresh air to a feeling of belonging and community. And this is what the emerging human-centric interior design trend is all about: providing employees with the fundamentals they need to feel motivated and work in a productive manner.

Businesses are starting to look at their premises not as offices but more as places which provide home comforts and everyday luxuries which meet employee needs. A great example is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s office which is more like walking into someone’s stunning living room than stepping into a business venue. We predict that more refurbishment projects will focus on basic needs and little luxuries this year.

Collaborative Interior Design

The future of the open plan office has been in jeopardy for some time, with many viewing the trend as outdated and incompatible with modern ways of working. But after more than 12 months of social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, we’re seeing more and more businesses redesigning their spaces to rebuild the human connection.

We predict that open plan designs and connected interior trends will get a new lease of life throughout the remainder of 2021, with employers keen to encourage collaboration and communication in what has been a very disconnected, remote world. Over the coming years, as refurbishments become necessary, we’ll see an influx of luxurious, airy, and spacious open plan offices that make interaction the focus.

The concern with this modern office interior trend is that it makes it more challenging to buckle down when needed. But forward-thinkers are already addressing this with innovative interiors. DMH Stallard, for example, has incorporated cushioned fabric and acoustic felt screens to create quiet heads-down zones within its collaborative space.

Sustainable Interior Design

While the Pandemic and sustainability might not be obviously connected, the fact is that the health crisis has undone a huge amount of progress that was being made in terms of making sustainable practices the norm. Single use plastics, for example, are now ‘back in fashion’, and a lot of us are fighting back. This year, both employers and employees are keen to see sustainability built into their working environment interiors.

What we’re seeing in 2021 is growing interest from companies looking to implement more sustainable and responsible interior design into their offices in a modern and luxurious way. Southampton Freight, for example, included shipping containers as part of their design that upcycled industry equipment into eye-catching additions.

We predict that there will be a huge trend for selecting only sustainable materials, furniture, and interior fixtures and fittings to try and counteract the environmental impact of the pandemic over the coming years. We also think they’ll be a renewed focus on British-made products to help reduce interior design’s carbon footprint.

Hybrid-Friendly Interior Design

As restrictions ease and the drive for a return to the office begins in earnest, we’re not seeing workers rush back to work and pretend nothing happened. And it’s easy to see why. The remote working ‘experiment’ was largely successful. Even those organisations that had been against working from home in the past started to see the benefits. Many are happy to empower employees to work from home for at least some of the time.

And so it’s natural that one of the biggest interior design trends we’re seeing today is the inclusion of in-office features that facilitate productivity in a hybrid setup; communicative design applications that make it easier to work seamlessly across two – or even more – locations, and collaborate with colleagues no matter where they are.

A fantastic example can be seen with our work at Southampton’s Old Bond Store, where we recreated the rapidly emerging concept of the co-working space, but with a twist that provided an additional level of privacy without compromising on flexibility. We developed a broad sense of fluidity across the entirety of the building to really promote this idea that there’s no one single way – or one single place – to get the job done.

A Touch of 21st Century Luxury

All of the points we’ve touched on above are sparking a renewed drive for office refurbishments and refits, with businesses across the country looking to adapt their existing interiors to create spaces that nurture employees professionally and personally.

And as one of the UK’s top interior fit out companies, we’re incredibly excited to be a part of this movement, and we’re thrilled to be able to support organisations as they make luxurious changes to maintain stunning office interiors in this ‘new normal’.

Why is Interior Design so Important?

Interior design is often thought of as a way to improve the aesthetics of an office space; to make it look nice, to provide a welcoming environment, and to show off branding.

And it certainly achieves all three of those aspects. However, the power of interior design extends far beyond mere appearance. In fact, when approached in the right way, interior design can empower organisations to implement vital changes that would otherwise be unattainable by using technology or internal processes alone. Sometimes, interior design is the essential element that’s needed to go the last mile towards a goal.

The Success Trifecta

As leaders in the field, we’ve seen first hand how technology, process, and design must all come together to help organisations adapt to the ever evolving landscape, maintain a strong employee experience, and ensure unwavering levels of productivity.

Technologies that automate internal procedures, reduce human error, and free up your valuable employees for more productive, profitable tasks are essential, that’s a fact that’s discussed frequently. And processes that ensure these technologies are used in ways that drive consistent, predictable results are a hot topic of conversation today.

Design is the long forgotten part of the pyramid. But as 2020 has shown us, it’s a critical foundation that facilitates the implementation of these technologies and processes.

The Hybrid Example

In the ‘new normal’, everyone’s talking about hybrid working. They’re asking questions like ‘how is it going to work?’, and ‘can it really be as productive as full time office working?’. We think the answers to these questions all come down to interior design.

Consider, for example, what’s needed to implement hybrid working. There’s 3 things:

1. Technology: You need digital platforms to enable on-site/off-site communications.
2. Process: You need employees to be clear on how these technologies will be used.
3. Design: You need an interior layout that allows for tech use and process roll out.

The role that design plays here is clearly critical. Businesses wanting to implement a hybrid working policy can’t just get the technologies and processes in place; they must be willing to design concepts that work better for hybrid collaborative experiences.

What visual considerations need to be built into a design to enable suitable lighting and backgrounds that can help to enhance on-camera communications? What materials must be built into a design for optimal audio quality and acoustics? What type of space is required to encourage both collaborative working and quieter, heads-down time? What layout is best to integrate and incorporate technologies into the environment?

The Benefits of Interior Design

Of course, the hybrid working trend is just one example of why interior design is important. There are countless other examples that can be seen in industry.

As an interior fit out contractor, when we work with offices our clients often ask us to create distinct areas and work zones, each based on different interior design principles that, through their unique design, offer employees a different experience, or promote a different function, or create a different atmosphere, or facilitate different types of interactions and communications. The design is used as a guide, and as a motivator.

A great example is our work with Moneybarn. There’s a very clear distinction between the interior design practices used in the meeting rooms – which are enclosed, understated, subtle, traditional, minimal, uniform, and professional – and the sprawling open break area that’s adorned with bright and vibrant colours, fun suspended lights, mix ‘n’ match cabinets, and odd furniture. This design is more random and playful.

Moneybarn’s employees are clear on what’s expected of them, and where, through this interior design. And that’s exactly why interior design is so important, and should always be one of the most vital considerations with any refurbishment projects, including restaurant refurbishment, office refurbishment, shop refurbishment, and so on.

Interior Design as a Driver of Success

As one of the UK’s leading interior fit out companies, we like to think of interior design in the same way that other industries think about product design. A product that looks great but lacks practicality is useless; a product whose design not only looks good but also enhances the use of the product, or the experience of using it, is the overall goal.

That’s what we believe in; leveraging the power of design for more than just aesthetics.

When we look at interior design, we see a way for businesses to do more, to achieve more, and to turn what they already have into something even more successful.

Welcome Lawrence

A big SPACE hello and welcome to Lawrence Bennetton who joins the SPACE Project Finance team as an Estimator. Lawrence has developed his knowledge from within the Marine Fit-Out industry and at SPACE will be responsible for estimating the project costs in terms of labour, equipment and materials required, gathering quotes from sub-contractors and suppliers, and helping with bids for new contracts and supporting buying activity. Key element is monitoring the project to make sure that’s costs are kept in line with forecasts.

Steve O’Callaghan, Managing Partner for SIMUL Group said, “Team skills are essential in this role. Lawrence comes across as a great self-starter, demonstrated great forward planning and budget skills so we think he will be a great asset to the team.”

Can Office Interior Designs Boost Post-Pandemic Workflow & Productivity?

Throughout the ‘remote revolution’, there’s been one burning question on most people’s lips: are we really more productive when we’re working from home?

Of course, the situation has been very different for everyone. But the truth is that many employers do agree that they seem to have been deriving more value from their workers over lockdown, with employees more productive when working remotely.

Now, as people start heading back into the office, employers need to ensure that this productivity isn’t lost; that employees continue to keep up with the great work.

Boosting Workflow to Boost Productivity

Improving workplace productivity in the post-pandemic landscape means focusing on workflow; on creating a seamless process to transition from task initiation to completion.

So, how can a better workflow be achieved in the post-COVID office? Well, there’s a lot that impacts workflow – everything from your own leadership style to the overall company culture – but one important aspect that’s often overlooked is interior design.

Office interior fit out is usually viewed only from an aesthetic perspective; as helping to make a workplace an attractive, enjoyable place to spend time. But, interestingly, there’s quite a bit of research out there which suggests that office interior design can have a pretty significant impact on workflow and, in turn, on workplace productivity.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting the ball rolling with a few minor refurbishment projects now that everyone is beginning to get back into work, now’s the ideal time.

What Office Fit Out Styles are Best?

What sort of office fit out styles really work to improve workflow and boost productivity?

While the open plan office design trend is still going strong (and, of course, brings fantastic benefits in terms of communication and teamwork), the businesses that are set to thrive in the post-pandemic environment are those that combine collaborative open spaces with distinct task areas that guide teams through their own workflow process.

Today’s businesses should be thinking about introducing dedicated spaces for carrying out specific tasks. We’ve already talked about this briefly in our post on how it’s important to be comfortable at work, but dedicated work areas aren’t just about comfort. They’re about guiding employees towards achieving a specific task; they’re about utilising interior design to non-verbally communicate that ‘in here, we do this’.

A quiet, enclosed area for making calls… a private workspace for writing documentation… a large table in an open with plenty of seating for communication and collaboration… a separate area with home comforts for taking breaks… It works.

But don’t just take out word for it. Research by the World Green Building Council agrees, stating that ‘the way the interior of an office is configured, including workstation density and configuration of work space, breakout space, and social space, has been found to have an impact on concentration, collaboration, confidentiality, and creativity’.

This sort of interior office layout makes it easy for employees to understand the next logical step in the process, helping to guide them on their journey to completion.

You can check out a great example of this type of office fit out in action by looking at our work on DVB Bank’s offices at Tower 42. We designed and implemented private workspaces for high concentration work, as well as an open tea point & collaboration space for encouraging communication, sparking ideas, and boosting innovation.

Not sure where to get started? It helps to work with an office refurbishment company experienced in creating spaces that facilitate workflow. As one of the UK’s top interior fit out companies, we’re here to help you create a post-pandemic office that helps your teams to thrive.

How Can I Decorate my Office to Enhance the Mundane Appearance After Lockdown?

In March 2020, life changed for pretty much all of us. The announcement to work from home where possible meant that many of us had to move away from our familiar office environments, and start operating remotely. It was challenging, but we made it work.

Everyone had their own ideas of what their home office space would look like. The majority worked from the sofa, while around half of all home workers reported working from bed or from the kitchen table, and around 40% say they’ve worked from the floor. Some have even worked from the toilet… but the less said about that the better, we think!

Some, however, have really gone the extra mile, turning into interior fit out gurus that have created their own incredible work spaces and jaw dropping home offices.

Our very own Group Operations Director Amanda is one of them. She gave us a glimpse into her stunning garden setup in May last year, and she’s not the only one.

From garden sheds to spare rooms to kitchen nooks, home workers have really upped their game when it comes to home office interiors. They’re lighting candles, using flowers to brighten things up, and surrounding themselves with inspiring home decor.

But this could end up being a bit of a problem…

The Return to the Office

As Government guidelines start to ease, and more and more workers head back to the office, they’re beginning to notice a big difference between the office and their home havens. Before, standard office fit out styles were the norm; we didn’t question them.

But now that we’ve been working from really cool spaces at home, it can be a very stark contrast heading back into work. Employees are starting to realise that actually, standard office interiors can have a really mundane, plain, and boring appearance.

Amanda herself even said that, when returning to the office, she’d love to take her garden setup with her. She’d want to “recreate that ‘spring feeling’ to provide a positive and stimulating environment which will make us all smile and adapt”.

And so it’s clear that it’s time to launch some major refurbishment projects, working to enhance the appearance of your office to ensure that your employees all feel comfortable, happy, inspired, motivated, and productive when they return to work.

How can you do this? Through inspired design. Here are a few of our top tips:

● Home-Style Comforts

This is exactly what we did for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme who wanted a ‘home away from home’ vibe. And that’s definitely something that’s going to be important in creating a good transition back to the office after some workers have been at home for 12 months or more. We essentially used home decor – sofas, mirrors, and wall clocks, for example – along with decorative items that serve no other purpose other than boosting aesthetics. That’s something that’s often overlooked by office fit out companies who focus on practicality rather than blending form and function.

Don’t think of an office as an office; think of it as a working environment and consider what employees need to work productively. They need to be comfortable. They need the space to feel familiar. They need to feel as though they belong. Home style comforts are key to achieving this, and to boosting the look and feel of the space.

● Pops of Colour

Take a look at pretty much any office space, and the most common colours you’ll see are black, white, grey. It’s really not surprising, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, those are the colours that most office furniture sets are available in. Secondly, monochrome and greyscale colour schemes are timeless; they’re not going to age horrifically like the avocado bathrooms of the 1970s. The problem is that these colours can often make offices look a bit mundane, especially for workers who are now used to working amongst the flowers and plants in their colourful gardens, or in brightly designed rooms.

The good news is you can easily enhance the look of a monochrome office with some pops of colour. We did exactly this for Specialist Sports. The black, grey, and white office space was boosted with the addition of sunshine yellow ceiling lamps, lush green plants, bold blue statement walls, and vibrant rugs in a selection of different hues.

● Lighting

One really important thing to remember as employees start heading back into the office after lockdown is that office spaces may not actually be as plain as they appear. After a long absence, they may just seem mundane in comparison to brighter, more vibrant homes and gardens. So rather than going for a complete office refurbishment, you could try introducing small changes, like adding more lighting options. This can be a great starting point (and it can help keep your office fit out costs to a minimum, too).

Our work with Starling Bank can be fantastic inspiration if you’re not sure where to get started. The bank combined illuminated signage with neon strip lights, spotlights, and suspended tube lights to create a bright, light environment that instantly lifted the feel of the space. So if you have a plain-looking space, simply brightening it up can help.

Looking for even more ideas and inspiration for enhancing mundane looking offices in the new normal? We can help. Our professional office refurbishment service can help you identify the best changes to implement in your office that will make your employees thrilled to be returning to work, and happy to finally get back to normal!