Are we on the cusp of an interior design revolution?

Jane Walsh, Senior Interior Designer and workplace design champion at Box Architects, recently attended the Surface Design Show 2019 held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. Here, she reveals her thoughts on how the sector is changing.

The Surface Design Show has been running for over a decade and focuses exclusively on interior and exterior surfaces. Being the only event of its kind, it attracts international industry professionals. This year saw the largest collection of exhibitors display finishes, lighting and materials of all description.

Keeping up to date is essential in the design world – especially learning about the ‘next best thing’. It is also important to move with the rapidly changing innovations, whether that is new product materials or alternative ways of working. To effectively design for the future, you must understand where existing trends are heading. I chose three seminars from leading experts: The office of the future: virtual or virtuous, Designing for an aging population and In pursuit of silence – acoustic solutions for a noisy world.

I left with a palpable sense that there is a revolution taking place in the world of interior design. Today, the focus is not on what is happening outside of work, but what people do at work. And yet, wellbeing is still king. Many more companies are offering staff yoga sessions, occupational therapies, and designated collaborative spaces to help team members feel relaxed and happy. Indeed, employees are now choosing where to work by the amenities that are on offer. This means a person’s wellbeing as well as their social and mental states are being considered at the design stage.

Another key area is acoustics. We might be living in a rapidly changing world of digital technology, but there is a notable shift for people to work in quieter, tech-free zones as noise pollution really does have a huge impact on how people feel. The interior design community has a responsibility to not only promote environmental issues by coming up with sustainable alternatives, where possible, but also to identify products that will help with noise absorption.

Keeping ahead of the curve helps guide the spaces we design for clients. It allows us to put forward suggestions of materials that we believe will enhance the wellbeing of those who inhabit a building.

More and more clients are opting for ceilings to be removed and services exposed. Finishes have become much harder and industrial too which in turn are creating noisy environments in which we live, work or play.

But we need to understand how people feel within a space. It allows us to come up with design solutions which incorporate these new ways of thinking.

We have been specifying absorbent materials and finishes to many of our clients, for example. Why? Well, they enhance acoustic absorption. And for quite some time, we’ve been promoting the benefits of using environmental products in our designs as sustainability continues to be high on the practice’s agenda.

What I have learnt at the Surface Design Show is that we need to place even greater importance on a building’s acoustics. This will promote a healthier lifestyle for users of the spaces we design.

The Surface Design Show is a must for anyone in interior design. I shall take away poignant elements from the seminars I attended, share learning with my Box Architects colleagues and follow up contacts made with possible new suppliers and manufacturers to provide our clients with future-proofed projects.