Modern office trends have gone through many transformations over the years. From the Bauhaus movement in the 1920s to the resurgence of mid-century modern design in recent years, we know there are many interpretations of contemporary office design.
Today, the number one modern office design trend might be the made-to-order model. This office design focuses on creating custom spaces that showcase the company's philosophy as well as the personality of individual company employees.
Along with the made-to-order model, there are a few other modern office design trends that are likely to continue to be at the forefront of office design. Below you will find several modern office design trends that will be sure to make your office project feel open, unique, and designed for productivity.
Modern Elite Planters in the Kivvit office — Chicago, IL
The primary trend in modern office design is now indicative of custom-designed offices aimed directly at the companies’ work style. These spaces reflect the nature of the business and the attitude of the workers who make it thrive.
One can see how this is especially true of creative companies that encourage play in their office designs, as featured in Artsy, to stimulate ideas and collaboration. This feature shows how imagination drives the design of companies like the Denmark LEGO, Kickstarter, and Viacom.
Kickstarter, for example, has a theater for filmmakers to work on-screen work. And Viacom even designed a wellness center to focus on its employee's mental health needs.
Many companies, from tech start-ups to those in the finance sector, have consulted with designers and architects on ways to create truly one-of-a-kind spaces that serve their unique company needs.
Modern Elite Planters in a meeting area — Calgary, AB
Taking employee comfort one step further, designers of modern offices are creating common areas and meeting spaces with flexible, movable furniture. These pieces of furniture are designed for comfortable and relaxed interaction as an alternative to the formal conference room. These creative spaces encourage gathering in small groups and working with wireless technology away from the constraints of a desk. To create this type of space in your office, consider a mix of clean, modern chairs and sofas or benches to encourage groups of different sizes to gather for casual discussion.
A vital element in modern office design trends is biophilic design. Biophilic design is based on the recognition that humans seek to connect with nature and that modern interior design should connect those in the workplace with nature. The philosophy behind biophilic design propounds that connection with nature is essential for the well-being of those in the workplace.
In biophilic design, plants are encouraged to be incorporated as a design element. We see this with the use of living walls and plant sculptures incorporated into the architecture of many modern spaces. Nature-based wall dividers using bamboo, or tall custom planters with clean lines and low-allergen plants help to break up areas while promoting employee health and well-being.
When space allows, many modern architects are using biophilic design to encourage the incorporation of terraces or patio spaces that let employees take short breaks or even have meetings outside the walls of the office in green spaces.
…And other green ideas
Sustainability in materials is an old hat for many architects and designers; today’s modern offices are now built with new ways to create a sustainable difference. From renewable energy sources to air purification and carbon offsets, today’s business model supports environmental initiatives internally. This type of design also supports options for their employees to work with sustainably in mind, as well.
Elements of Home Design Go to Work
Modern Elite Planters in the Kivvit office — Chicago, IL
From gathering spaces with couches and footrests to yoga facilities and patios for outdoor breaks, an overall sense of comfort to encourage productivity is what is inspiring modern office design trends. In no place is this more prominent than in the idea of bringing the cozier elements of home design into the workspace. Soft textures, quiet spaces designed more like a home office than a cubicle, kitchens rather than break rooms, and other elements that break away from the traditional office environment are essential to modern office design.
Hiding the Wires
Technology is both a blessing and a curse in today’s workplace, and keeping cords tidy is a persistent problem in modern office design.
In large open office designs, every bit of clutter adds to a sense of disorganization. Office planners now need to considering how cords will be organized. And modern furniture designers are thinking through clever methods of concealing cords while still allowing easy access to them. The decrease of the clutter created from wires helps office spaces appear more organized and professional, which contributes to a greater sense of focus.
Modern Elite Planters in the Monterey County Government Center at Shilling Place — Monterey County, CA
Today’s modern office is a far stretch from the traditional beige walls and industrial grey carpeting. Employers and designers recognize that color encourages happiness, productivity, and creativity. From pops of color on the walls to vibrant planter choices, color is showing up everywhere.
Modern office design follows trends in the color forecasts from such organizations as Pantone, which sets out a wide palette of colors and themes that will be prominent in design in the coming year.
A good tip is to identify color combinations that might be on the cusp of the current trend but also has a logical and complementary connection to the building’s architecture. This ensures a look that will be on-trend but not go out of style too quickly.
Varied materials also contribute to the trend of a more welcoming workspace and create a sense of wellness and productivity. Textures allow a space that is otherwise more streamlined and clean to have a sense of playful creativity and feel more inviting. One can introduce texture into their office space by including faux sheepskin throws, fabric wall panels, woven rugs, or hanging baskets for plants. Each element provides a sense of home and a touch of comfort that slick modern office design can often lack.
Office Community Tables
The Astor Table is pictured above. Shop our community tables.
Similar to the community table, we see trending in restaurants, offices are adding in community tables for collaborative working spaces. More casual than a conference room and more collaborative than individual workstations, large centralized tables allows for the gathering of ideas, as well as people. In some offices, community tables might replace single desks altogether. In others, it might be a central gathering point for people spread out in to share in creative and innovative solutions.
Flexible Office Spaces
Flexibility is a significant factor in modern office design trends, as the permanent layout is rapidly losing favor. Non-permanent arrangements allow for adaptation over time to suit the changing needs of the workplace. They also will enable each employee to set up a workspace conducive to the needs of their job. It is increasingly important to employees that they can move about the office as necessary instead of being stuck in one spot all day.
As flexibility in office space has become more and more vital in modern office design, it is also important to have technology that easily moves with the employee. This is why many offices are opting for laptops over desktops, wireless charging centers, additional plug-ins in the flooring, and video conferencing technology. All of these technologies ensure that their employees can efficiently work wherever they choose in the open office setting.
Inclusion and Accessibility
Long its own area of commercial design, accessibility is taking a higher priority in modern office design. This is because more companies recognize the importance of creating spaces that are adaptable and accessible for any current or future employees or visitors. Businesses can create an inclusive environment by adding adjustable desks, adaptive chairs, moveable furniture, quiet focus work areas, and assistive devices to their office space. It is equally essential to ensure that the overall building layout and design are easily accessible to all people.
Modern Elite Modular Planter and PurePots Planters on the 15th Floor Terrace of the Rockefeller Center — New York, NY
Utilizing third spaces in another big trend we see in modern office design. Third space originally referred to having a “third space” to work. The first two spaces are the office desk or home, and the third space referred to a place like a coffee shop or library.
In modern office design, third space is achieved by transforming dead space into usable working space. This trend first came on strong in 2018, and we don’t see it going anywhere soon. Utilizing formally dead space, not only has its economic benefits, but researchers have also found that the implementation of third spaces also increases employees’ well-being and productivity.
If you have a large open space, but don’t have the budget for building permanent structures, you can create third space by using planters as dividers. Using planters as dividers can partition out large areas and create new workspaces for employees to collaborate.
For helpful advice on how to implement these trends into your office, check out our piece, “How to Design Modern Office Spaces.”