leadforensics What can we learn from past office interior design trends? | Oaktree Interiors

How we work has changed radically over the years; from sitting in regimented formations, behind cubicles, tapping on a massive computer, right through to sitting on beanbags swiping on a tablet. Because of how we work has changed,so have the spaces in which we perform our daily tasks in. So with 2020 heralding a new decade (where has the time gone?), here, we're going to take a look at how office interior design trends have developed throughout the last 70 years and ask; what does the future hold?

How office interior design trends have changed throughout the years

The experimental period of the 1950s

Whilst earlier offices were based upon the'production line' layout of a factory floor, the 1950s saw the beginning of experimentation in office design. Open plan, less rigid and more free-flowing layouts were created; emphasised by the introduction of 'Bürolandschaft'.

Translating as 'Office landscape', Bürolandschaft was a German concept that provided a working situation in which desks were 'organically' grouped together to encourage collaboration, conversation and interaction between workers. This subsequently saw a boost in productivity and an improvement in the quality of work that was produced. This type of office interior design was furnished with potted plants, teak furniture, sideways filing cabinets and typewriters.

The vast change in the 1960s

The mid-late sixties are widely held up as being the decade in which style vastly transformed like never before; from the conservative fashions of the post-war 1950s to the bright, loud and unique designs that still have an impact today. The workplace was no different; the 1960s saw the rise of design-led office furniture that featured a more progressive use of colours and shapes; thanks in no small part to the availability of plastics.

The decade also saw the creation of the 'Action Office'; developed by Robert Propst, the concept saw movement and adaptability maximised to give the user the option to shape how they work to the situation they found themselves in. For example, if they wanted to collaborate or needed privacy, the triplicated hinged ('folded') wall was designed to allow them to choose either option.

The 1970s: More colour, flexibility and comfort

The advent of the 1970s saw an increasing use of bolder, brighter colours used in office decor, whilst workers were given larger, more private workspaces. The decade also saw the innovation of 'ergonomic' office furniture; allowing the user to adjust their seating and desks to levels that would suit them, rather than them having to change how they work to suit the limitations of the furniture.

Think '1980s office', think 'cubicle farms'

Whilst computer technology increasingly made inroads into office life throughout the decade, the 1980s is best remembered for the notorious 'cubicle farm' office layout. To capitalise on every available square foot of space, profit-driven companies organised linear rows of employees in an attempt to increase productivity. Modular walls were installed around workstations, enclosing employees in their own environment, eliminating any remaining benefits that the open plan format provided. The desks themselves were heavy and complex to account for the rise in use of word processors and fax machines

Technology takes hold: The 1990s

Whilst it took a while for businesses to realise that the cubicle farm had a negative effect on the overall working environment of the average office, the 1990s saw technology starting to dictate office interior design.

As internet use became widespread towards the end of the decade, firms understood that privacy was becoming less of a requirement within the workplace. Phone use, for example,was needed less and less to communicate internally (if not externally). As technology started to become less bulky and more compact, the barriers that enclosed workers started to come down too.

The digital 2000's

The arrival of 'the noughties' brought with it an end to desks being dominated by huge PC's, which increasingly became lighter, thinner and more compact (as they grew more powerful). The internet grew from being pumped through a phone line into fast-speed broadband and wireless devices established themselves on the mass market, making it possible for people to move around and not be tethered to their desks.

As technology became increasingly flexible (allowing more information than ever before to be stored digitally), the design of offices began to reflect this with diverse, multi-functional spaces. As a result, the boundaries between work and play started to disappear and office decor became brighter and bolder.

The office design trends of today

This current decade has seen office design trends build on the tech-driven trend that was introduced in the noughties. The workplace has increasingly become more fluid and spaces have reflected this need for collaboration by introducing wide-open,comfortable areas for people to get together and share ideas. What has helped to boost this is a recognition of the importance of employee wellbeing; introducing areas for them to relax, socialise, keep fit or even play games to unwind and relax the mind.This 'element of fun' is now a common sight in the modern office; spaces now have the ability to perform several different roles, seeking to stimulate, entertain and support employees to increase their creativity, productivity and happiness.

The 'teens' has also seen the introductionof 'the green office'. With an increasing urgency to protect the environment,more priority has been placed on sustainability in office design. As such, the workplacehas become more efficient, recycle-conscious and has embraced tech thatminimises the use of energy and water.

What's next for office design trends?

The flexible and remote working trends are set to grow throughout the next decade, affecting almost every type of office imaginable. By next year alone, it has been predicted that half of UK businesses will adopt the concept of remote working; and as technology and internet connectivity will improve and grow widespread, more people than ever will have the means to pick-and-choose their working hours.

Another aspect to look at will be the existence of the company office itself. If the rent for office space continues to increase, then co-working spaces will become an economic necessity for many a small-medium business.This means even fewer rows of static desks and more adaptable spaces that can be used for a variety of different working styles.

As we now have a better understanding of human productivity and creativity, the drive to look after the in-work wellbeing of employees is likely to increase too. This could well mean more recreational spaces in offices being introduced and a greater need to provide comfortable seating areas and kitchen facilities.

Finally, with society becoming more involved with living a more 'green' existence, sustainability will likely insert itself into most aspects of office interior design. Expect to see innovative solutions being embraced by designers through the use of sustainable materials, better insulation and more energy-efficient technology.

Being a vastly experienced workplace design company here at Oaktree Interiors, we have contributed to many of these innovations throughout the years. As we look forward to a new decade, we continue to place ourselves at the forefront of bespoke office design. So if you're interested in building your ideal office interiors for the future, why not consider getting in touch with us today?

Innovative, future-proof office design by Oaktree Interiors

Here at Oaktree Interiors, we are an office fit out company with 30 years of experience in creating innovative workplaces for all manner of business types and industries. From new start-ups and local businesses, to large, multinational corporations; our experiences have seen us build a leading office interior service across the South East of England and beyond.

Please feel free to browse our website to get more of an insight into the office design services we are able to undertake;our extensive case studies page contains a multitude of different examples of our work.

If you would like to learn more about how office interior design service can help to improve the effectiveness of your workforce or to discuss your particular requirements in detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us directly today. You can call us on 034521 86955 or e-mail us at hello@oaktreeoffice.com.

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