We’re always excited to learn about new trends in architecture so we can stay on top of client requests and bring innovative design solutions to our customers. Earlier this summer, we attended NeoCon in Chicago, a conference that serves as a hub for the commercial design community. Designers, architects, clients, manufacturers, service providers, associations, educators all convene to hear about new products and trends, and gain design inspiration for current and future projects.
We talked to our interior designer, Brittany Erskine, about her experience at NeoCon and what she thinks are the next biggest trends in design.
Sustainable Materials and Design
Most of us have thought about how we can be more environmentally-friendly in our everyday lives, whether it’s phasing out plastic straws or opting to use a refillable water bottle. The design industry is no different. In fact, construction creates an estimated third of the world’s overall waste, and at least 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, according to a 2021 BBC stat. In other words, it’s crucial that sustainability is a major conversation in design.
“It’s important we design sustainably to reduce the negative impacts on our social, economic and environmental health,” explains Erskine. “By reducing negative impact, we improve the comfort and health of the building’s occupants, that ultimately improve the building’s overall performance.”
Erskine says commercial interiors can be designed with eco-friendly materials and products, such an energy-efficient lighting, or even going after LEED certification. She also notes that designers can work with manufacturers that utilize recycled materials and incorporate recycling programs to return unwanted samples.
A Return to In-Person Work
Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in every way — and work was no exception. Employers were forced to figure out remote work schedules for employees who may have always worked in an office. In 2023, Forbes reports that 12.7% of American employees work remote full-time, and 28.2% work a hybrid schedule.
“[During the pandemic], working from home became the new normal. When workers were allowed back in their offices, many preferred to stay at home. Corporations realized in order to bring their workers back into the office, they needed to make the commercial environment more residential,” explains Erskine.
Two of the biggest changes in workplace design were in lighting and seating, says Erskine.
“Changing out harsh fluorescent lighting to residential soft lighting helps with the overall comfort and health of workers [in an office setting],” she says. “And, offering different seating options allow workers more choice and a sense of privacy within different areas. Commercial spaces have softer furniture that is flexible to fit many different needs. Furniture with rounded edges helps create a homey feeling within the commercial environment.”
Be sure to read Part II of this post for more insider knowledge on design trends!