How the Workplace Will Change in the Coming Year

The vice president of strategic partnerships of Kontor gives his take on the office trends that are poised to transform the 2016 workscape.

Red Bull New York offices by Inaba Williams

All images courtesy Kontor


Office interior design trends gradually change from year to year. With 2015 coming to a close, design professionals and experts are steadily drawing up their lists of predictions for the coming year. We spoke to expert Bill Hanley, vice president of strategic partnerships at Kontor, for his take on the office trends that are poised to transform the 2016 workscape.

Glass Walls With a Twist

Glass walls, a common feature of the open office concept, seemed to catch a bad wrap over the years—thanks to the less-than-desirous “fishbowl effect” and less-than-stellar noise control. But, according to Hanley, we’ll see more designers ditching plain see-through partitions in favor of glass adorned with a kaleidoscope of colors (top image). “The iridescent partition has a lot of potential to evolve,” says Hanley. “It introduces distinctions among spaces while keeping sight lines open and emblematic.”

The Return to the Cube

Not quite. The cubicle will make a return in “a more bespoke version than the soulless farms of previous decades,” says Hanley. Designers will be incorporating personal spaces into open-plan offices via cocoonlike products such as the BuzziHood and Massaud Lounge Chair.

Pandora offices by STUDIOS Architecture

A Little Home at Work

Forget the boring rectangular boxes that typically house conference rooms. Designers are literally incorporating a piece of home into the office via gabled structures. Rotterdam-based firm Hollandse Nieuwe did just that in their 2014 design for Greenpeace’s headquarters, where they enclosed an office conference room within a pitched roof house. The diminutive “home” was fitted out with glass walls to allow for natural light to flood the space.

Greenpeace offices by Hollandse Nieuwe

A Touch of Rustic

Sustainability is a priority for many organizations, and companies are finding unique ways to incorporate environmentally friendly elements into their layouts. For example, there is the trend of outfitting spaces with salvaged woods, which can give an office a sort of rustic charm. Hanley predicts we’ll be seeing more of this idea, which got its start in coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants, but dressed up with colorful finishes.

White Colored-Boards

Whiteboards—invented in the ’50s but popularized more than two decades later with the advent of dry erase markers—will see a dip in popularity in the New Year. Brainstorming spaces will instead feature walls of bold color panels to clear-coated wood grain. Companies like IdeaPaint are now offering products where you can add the functionality of a dry erase board to any color surface without the staining and cracking of traditional whiteboards.

Direct TV offices by AECOM

Flexible Furniture

Reconfigurable furniture has been evolving over the past few years. This trend will continue to transform well into and beyond 2016 as companies try to find ways to accommodate a range of work styles in open offices. ”I love some of the creative reconfigurable furnishing systems we’ve seen lately, both custom pieces conceived by architects and collections by product designers,” says Hanley.

Crafting tailored spaces that meet employee needs and that adhere to company ideals seems to be the overarching theme of the coming year. But, says Hanley, in-house amenities are no substitute for encouraging a sense of place. Designers should keep in mind for 2016 that “offices which respond to the specifics of how and where people work are always the best projects.”

Categories: Sponsored, Workplace Interiors

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