What is office interior design?

Office interior design is the practise of designing workplaces that are conducive to maximising not only productivity but also the health, safety, well-being, and performance of employees. It is about creating spaces that are functional and that provide a setting for success; places in which people are happy to work.

office interior design

Designers working on office interiors have a range of decorative and functional elements at their disposal. They consider everything from furniture, colour, and material to lighting quality and general décor in their quest to capture the essence of an organisation or brand.

The recent history of office interiors

Though the first open plan offices emerged in the early 1900s, it was in the 1950s that they really started to gain in popularity. By this time, businesses and designers had begun to really understand that the traditional layout (of separated offices) tended to not only discourage collaboration, but also reduced morale and affected productivity.

By the 1950s and into the sixties, new materials like steel and glass became popular, air conditioning was introduced, and fluorescent lighting became the norm. From here, in 1968, the ‘Action Office’ came into being.

By the 1980s and 90s, with the advent of the digital revolution, the open plan office morphed slightly, and we began to see cubicles throughout offices. From there, throughout the 2000s and 2010s, it became clear that no not all offices had to be the same, and we saw the emergence of things like hot desking.

Current office interior design trends – now and into the future

As one might expect, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on office interior design ideas. The lockdowns of 2020 end 2021 look like they will potentially have a lasting impact – not just on how we work – but where we work. Despite the obvious negatives of these two terrible years, they have had some silver linings. They have shown us that flexibility and being at home for much of the working week does not equate to cutting back on work. Indeed, they have illustrated that flexibility may be the best path to a happy workforce and a successful enterprise, and that an effective balance can be struck between the home office and the workplace.

current office interior design trend

The pandemic has begun to have a significant effect on office interiors. Time will tell if its legacy is permanent. Some of the changes which we are already seeing include clear references to home within the office. For example, we are seeing a lot of furnishings like comfortable couches and also things like artwork and soft lighting and wallcoverings in offices.

Also, there's been an acknowledgement that not everyone in the office will be there nine to five every day of the week. Uniformity is out the window. Of course, those who do choose to be in the office full time will always have their needs met with large, fixed discs and so forth. However, the fact that so many people are likely to only ‘touch base’ at the office has seen the introduction things like flexible quiet spaces and pod style layouts, rather than one fixed workstation for each and every employee.

Some of the latest and best office interior design

kati curtis new york city

Designed by Kati Curtis for a not-for-profit organisation in New York City, this office interior design places emphasis on the importance of teamwork. There are several areas in the office that are conducive to spontaneous collaboration and even a picnic table in the café to work, charge your laptop or talk to colleagues. Though the design was completed in 2015, it points to what we are seeing a lot of in offices today.

office space san francisco

This shared contemporary workspace in San Francisco which measures 1200 square metres matches an open plan office area and cafe on one side with private offices (which are enclosed by glass) on the other. Further features include a series of meeting rooms and an outdoor terrace. All in all, the design is the perfect fit for the ’new normal’ we can expect to take shape after the worst of the pandemic has passed.

PwC office

Designed in the UK for well-known accounting firm PwC, this office space is all about improving communications, fostering collaboration, and knowledge sharing. The fit-out by BDP is not what most would expect from a corporate office. It goes a long way to proving the point that an attractive and functional workplace is a happy workplace. 

Airbnb San Francisco office

Airbnb’s San Francisco studio is designed around the concept of always having several large projects in progress. Spaces are modular, whiteboards and displays are movable, and the creatives who use the space are made to feel as comfortable as possible. No two days are the same, people are free to move about and the creative juices are encouraged to flow.

office space commercial building lamp shades

The key to this success of this office setup is its use of natural lighting. Here we see how well this lights up the breakout area of this large office. in fact, the light becomes the main attraction in this case and a clear source of inspiration.

the barbarian group office

This relatively small office which belongs to US advertising agency, The Barbarian Group features a huge 4400 square foot desk that wraps around the office and from time-to-time arches up to form wavelike nooks in which time out can be had or small, impromptu meetings can take place.