Q&A: Key Commercial Interior Design Trends and Tips

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends

  • Date:

    July 12, 2022

Q&A: Key Commercial Interior Design Trends and Tips

Industry Trends

When it comes to the commercial interior design industry, there is no event more important than NeoCon. The 2022 show in Chicago featured over 1 million square feet of exhibition space on the show floors, as well as appearances from over 400 brands.

Our own Tiffany Tarr, business development manager, attended NeoCon 2022 and brought back a wealth of insights. From the bustling show floor to intriguing panel discussions, I sat down with Tiffany to hear more about what she learned regarding what’s next in commercial interior design.

What are some of the major trends or ideas you noticed at NeoCon this year?

TT: There was definitely an emphasis on providing agile design solutions in the current market — I heard terms like “phygital” workplace design and the “hotelification” of offices multiple times.

People also spoke about combining the aesthetics of residential design with the performance quality of commercial/contract designs. There’s a focus on making work environments calmer and allowing them to be more inviting and homelike to workers.

With the rise of work-from-home, this makes sense. It also comes down to simplicity in design being valued now more than ever. Interiors can’t be unwelcoming or overwhelming if you want people to spend time in them.

On the flip side, what are some challenges facing the industry?

TT: I think people continue to feel uncertain right now, so there were plenty of conversations regarding new and arising challenges. For starters, designs must now be adaptable and useful in a marketplace and world where most consumers are unsure how global issues will affect — or continue to affect — their offices and industries. We’ve seen this a lot throughout the pandemic with the work-from-home shift and increased awareness of social issues, as well as environmental impacts and concerns.

As I mentioned earlier, designers are also figuring out designs incorporating benefits that appeal to consumers, because that’s what clients need right now. How can designers make workplaces and commercial areas more appealing? The right design can be a good way to give people a reason to come into the office. At the very least, design is a useful tool to ensure that commercial spaces aren’t repelling or overwhelming to consumers.

The industry has also shifted its focus to not just providing products and attractive design but also pointing out how specific products or lines provide ancillary, lasting benefits to society at large. How do they tout that their products are improving the world, even minimally? Design clients are interested in buying things that make their world not just prettier — but better.

You attended the “Designing for Measurable Impact” keynote. Can you share some key takeaways from that presentation?

TT: The design industry is realizing the importance of insights and promoting design solutions with measurable outcomes and quality-of-life enhancements. During this presentation, titled “Designing for Measurable Impact: ASID Outcome of Design,” panel members explored these insights.

The leading idea was that every design has an impact on consumers’ quality of life, which designers must take into consideration in the current market in order to elevate the industry and remain competitive.

Incorporating outcomes allows designers to validate their proposed design solutions and recommendations while also showing how they meet client needs. Additionally, design is an instrument of social change — design is for everyone. It’s important to consider that design doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There’s an entire ecosystem around it.

So, how do you start the conversation on incorporating outcomes? Talk to others — leaders, mentors, coworkers, consultants and more. Be sure to include clients as well. What real changes would they like to see in their lives?

As far as actually implementing outcomes in design, the ASID toolkit has a project background questionnaire, which is basically a brief that focuses on outcomes. The toolkit’s templates are set up to guide designers through each step of a project.

Lastly, it’s critical to focus on human-centered and life-centered design. Create spaces that are not just beautiful or practical but have measurable and lasting effects on society. Commit to changing the conversation. Share your work, and make efforts and research open-source. Doing so will keep the process healthy and ongoing.

Anything else you learned from NeoCon that people should know?

TT: I really appreciated how many showrooms and booths weren’t just designed to promote product lines and give out freebies — they also offered some form of experiential marketing: selfie backdrops with Polaroid cameras, work pods or booths that people could rent out, dry-erase walls and markers for guests to doodle, rare live plants, and retro fabrics and designs. Some showrooms even went the extra mile by donating money to charitable causes for each visitor badge scanned. These elements helped make the show feel very alive and made for a great experience!

For more about how brands and designs are changing, take a look at our blog on meeting customers’ needs and desires.

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