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Date published: March 03 2014

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Our offices are taking on a more relaxed and flexible look says Tim Armitt

A dominant trend over recent years - and one that looks set to continue - is the cross-over between contract and hospitality interior designs.

No longer separate and distinct, the boundaries of interior design that were once understood and abided by no longer apply, particularly when choosing furniture for these two environments.

Furniture that would look equally at home in the domestic environment has traditionally been specified for the hospitality sector.

Now however, with the contract sector looking to soften its environment and create more relaxed and flexible open-plan spaces for employees, the corporate look has started to echo the feel of a hotel environment. Meanwhile, as the hospitality environment has to pander more to the needs of the corporate client, the arrival of chill-out zones, phone booths and touchdown spaces are just some of the trends that currently influence hospitality designs today.

The birth of high backed meeting booths is the one of the biggest areas of growth in the corporate arena. Great for breaking up large, open plan office spaces, these stand-alone pieces help create touchdown spaces and informal meeting areas, and come fully equipped to meet every technological need.

Many offer advanced acoustic capabilities, their contoured high-back design helps reduce peripheral vision and external noise, whilst enhancing privacy and retaining an open plan feel. Of course, they look equally at home in the hospitality environment.

Once confined to the foyer, soft seating has now become the norm for breakout spaces and meeting areas in corporate settings – hence the growing popularity of modular furniture that offers unrivalled levels of flexibility and practicality. It also helps improve work efficiency and well-being.

Upholstered in either fabric or leather, modular furniture offers specifiers and interior designers significant freedom in creating office receptions, corporate and executive meeting areas, and hospitality seating venues to match their exact criteria.

Across both sectors, there has also been a distinct surge in custom designs and handcrafted furniture production. The need to stand out from the crowd and to provide that luxury wow factor was once the preserve of the hospitality sector.

Today, however, it applies to corporate designs too. Indeed, both sectors are looking for furniture designs that provide jaw-dropping decadence, combined with comfort, flexibility and practicality. Also, whilst bespoke designs used to be limited to small-scale projects, today even larger projects are looking to incorporate individuality and craftsmanship to distinguish their design.

With more organisations waking up to sustainability, it’s important to consider products that are manufactured from sustainable raw materials with low chemical omissions, combined with a strict recycling practice.

Equally, it’s more important than ever before to consider the robustness of materials when specifying furniture. Not only does it need to withstand everyday use, it needs to meet the rigours of housekeeping and offer an easy to clean and maintain solution. This too has to be balanced against aesthetics and comfort.

Regarding materials, there is still a strong trend towards wood tones combined with diverse colours and fabrics. Soft seating in bold colours can help distinguish office areas and break up the uniformity and functionality of the workspace, or provide a striking centrepiece within the hospitality environment.

The emergence of natural wood looks set to continue too. No longer confined to the frame of the furniture, natural woods add texture and colour to handcrafted furniture designs and can adorn interiors with touch of luxury and individuality that can make all the difference. When combined with classic and elegant furniture designs that boast high-end quality and craftsmanship – such as comb joints and bevelled edge detailing which give an exquisite finish – the results can be stunning and provide enduring appeal for years to come.

Author: Tim Armitt

Company: Lyndon Design

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