Clerkenwell Design Week 2018:
Workplace Design and Furniture Trends


We were once again delighted to attend this year's Clerkenwell Design Week in London, meeting up with various suppliers - new and old - to take a look at some of the latest products on display, and to also try out some of the latest technology, including a fully customisable, virtual reality office walkthrough, which was equal parts weird and fantastic. 


Our Interiors team are always looking to keep abreast of the latest developments in the world of office and furniture design, and this year's exhibition did not disappoint! Here's our short recap on what we feel the key themes were from this year’s event, and the impact they may have in the coming years…

The influence of  the hospitality sector


In recent years workplace design has been undergoing an evolution. Designers and employers alike are starting to realise the need to build an office environment that functions less as a sterile workplace, and more like a 'home away from home'. This domestication of the workplace shows no signs of slowing down; as Luke Pearson, founder of design consultancy, PearsonLloyd via FM World comments: “For many people, our homes are now serving as workspaces, and our offices are starting to resemble our homes.” A complete role reversal!


Natalie Mortimer of Australian Design Review comments: "It goes without saying that the workplace, and the workforce, has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Cubicles and bland strip lighting have been replaced by comfy armchairs and breakout spaces [...] the workplaces of today could easily be mistaken for cafes, bars or restaurants." At this year's CDW we witnessed a number of homely products on display, from colourful sofas with built in charge points, to lighting features you would of previously seen in a London penthouse suite. The line between the home and office has been completely blurred, and the influence of the hospitality sector and its luxurious touches are clear to see.


Key Takeaway: Office design will continue to take influence from the world of domestic interior design. If you get ahead of the curve now, not only could you be considered modern in your thinking, but you may also be building a future-proofed workspace which will help to attract the best and brightest employees, and even better, help with the retention of these individuals, too. 

The domesticated office
Smart furnishings with built in charge points

Office sweet office:

"Furniture manufacturers have been blending home and office in their designs for several years. Yet the process is accelerating ever faster, as workspace studies show the benefits of informal, collaborative office environments and Scandinavian philosophies of healthy living shape trends in furniture design."


Sketch Studio

High end office furniture

Faux materials and biophilic  elements


Faux materials and textures seem to be one of the key product trends right now in the interiors world. We were amazed to see how far some of these products have come; some of them are practically indistinguishable from the real thing! From brick walls and granite slabs, to concrete facades and living walls, if you were ever looking to create a workspace that taps into natural elements and raw textures without the mess and trouble of the real thing then there's never been a better time to do so!


Biophilia has also been a popular buzzword banded about in the interiors industry over the last few years, and it seems to of really taken ahold of the showrooms at CDW. The trend of Biophilia, meaning 'bring the outside in' seems to be growing stronger. Living walls, like the colourful, moss-strewn example you see below will help to inject colour into your workspace; they also help to oxygenate the room - improving air quality, and they are fairly low in terms of maintenance. It may be time to embrace those ol' green fingers.


Key Takeaway: Faux textures have never looked better, and offer a great solution for those who are looking to create distinctive feature walls in areas such as staff rooms and breakout spaces. Living elements are also a great way to add impact and colour to a workspace, and they can be installed to areas such as columns and corner zones with minimal effort for maximum impact. 

Faux brick wall effect
Biophilia - bringing the outside in

Green is the new black:

"Recent research has shown that by simply introducing plants into the workspace you can boost employee productivity by 15%. By bringing the outside in, your company can increase more than just your productivity, [as] employee satisfaction provides key stability."


Vertical Oxygen

The rise of the living wall

Acoustic attenuation in the workplace


We attended a really interesting talk by ezoBORD held at Pledge's showroom, which talked about the negative impact of sound in open plan office spaces. It's long been known that sound quickly builds up in open plan spaces, what with the combination of phone calls, conversations and background music. As the room gets louder so does the voices of those in that environment, which can have a rather detrimental effect on productivity. 


ezoBORD showcased a fully customisable, sound absorbing fabric product that can be sculpted into a variety of shapes and sizes. The material also has the capacity to receive high quality prints, so these sound absorbing, fabric walls can be literally transformed into art installations; the only limit is your imagination!


Key Takeaway: Sound attenuation systems are becoming increasingly important in the workplace, especially where workplace well-being is concerned.


As Julian Treasure, a Sound and Communications Expert explains: "Our bodies respond to distressing or alarming sounds by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol, whilst instantly increasing our heart rate and blood pressure. In contrast, a soothing, congruent background noise can relieve stress and help us find our flow", so it's important to create a balance of sound in your workplace environment, and these systems could play a big part in doing that.

Stylised sound baffle systems
Custom made acoustic attenuation solutions for workspaces

The secret science of sound:

"’s time to start designing physical spaces, not only with our eyes, but with our ears. Incongruent, unexpected and attention-sapping noise in offices is shown to make people less helpful, less likely to embrace teamwork, and less productive - strongly supported by scientific studies on the matter."


Julian Treasure, Sound and Communications Expert via Virgin

Sound attenuation systems by Creatif Architectural Products

So there you have it, another year, and another fantastic Clerkenwell Design Week. The focus this year was very much on the fine touches that can help to make a workspace the best it can be. And there is a plethora of products available to choose from to help you achieve this.


If you feel like you could be getting more out of your office space then you've come to the right place! We offer a complimentary space planning service that could help you to create a working environment where your employees can flourish and prosper. Get in touch below to find out more.



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