Our 2018 South African office design trends forecast

By 25th January 2018 July 20th, 2020 Office design trends
Our 2018 South African office design trends forecast

Wondering which designs will be worth your time in 2018? Here are our predictions for the 2018 office design trends in South Africa.  

Affordability is important to the South African market and an office space is a big investment. So a practical use of your space is a big driver for any trend, which is why trends in office design move slower than any other part of the design industry. Though having been in the industry for 23 years I have seen several changes in both decor and space planning designs. Before I start, let’s get some understanding of what we’re talking about…

You have three main features in office design trends:

  1. Space planning
  2. Decor
  3. Furniture

Good office design trends should last three to five years and talk to things like the furniture being used, conceptual design, the look and feel of the space, and the technology used. Decor trends tend to move more quickly and focus more on things like colours, finishes, and textiles. Decor trends can also be changed a lot more easily than office design trends, which means they are easier to keep with the times.

What have we seen in the past?

Trends (both from a space planning and decor perspective) have been leaning more to an artisanal design, people want to have something that brings in the feel of nature and still has a personal element to it. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen office design trends moving away from the stark whites and dark colours to more neutral colours. People have also introduced more natural elements like woods and steels. What does this tell us? That people want to connect with natural things, especially in South Africa.

So, what will we start seeing more of in 2018 in South Africa?

1. Artisanal design

South Africans fight for the window seat in the office: we’re used to being in nature, unlike cities like New York where you have to go to a park to see trees, we live in cities rife with nature. So this trend isn’t going anywhere soon. Even as the year wound down, I still saw people requesting the artisanal look. It’s a design that can be timeless and allows people to have colour in their office that will stand the test of time. Using features like face brick and wood gives the space a homey vibe and also makes you feel like you have some nature in the office.

Image source: Homepolish 

2. Smaller office spaces and desks

Trends in recent years, and that I believe will continue to evolve, are seeing smaller and smaller spaces needed in an office. Back in the day (we’re talking 50 odd years ago), it was the thing to have a big office. An executive could have an office that was 50m² with a big mahogany desk and endless open space. Now spaces have become smaller, not only because of the cost of rental, but also as the nature of how we’re working has changed, for example more people are utilising remote working. In fact, statistics in the US show that in 2016, 43% of employees said they spent at least some time working remotely. The change in technology has also affected this trend. Laptops require less space than a desktop computer.

Image source: Decoist

3. Less storage space

Sharing information is vital to the running of any business and while in the past this meant hundreds of pages of documents and several lever arch files, technology has changed that. Online storage sites like Google Drive give businesses the opportunity to store all their documents on the cloud, accessible by everyone in the business. And while some industries will always need a paper trail, the majority of businesses are moving to digital. This will definitely affect the way you decide to design your space. With less storage needed, you could ultimately need less physical space, which means you’ll be spending less on rental. Sounds good, right?

4. More remote working

Anyone in a paper intensive job, like lawyers, will always have to be in an office but more and more companies in South Africa are offering flexi time and allowing employees to work remotely. While this trend is utilised a lot overseas, several things have given rise to this trend in South Africa: for one, the expense of having a big office is difficult in the current financial climate with the Rand getting junk status. For another, the commute in cities like Joburg and Cape Town can deter a good employee. And some people feel less productive in an office. South Africans like to be outdoors and an office space that is closed off isn’t ideal for our way of life. Personally, we find that we’re seeing more requests from entrepreneurs for spaces that complement remote working, which has built a “coffee shop workplace” trend.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

5. Flexible workspaces

For those who can’t (or don’t want to) do the remote working thing, we’re seeing more requests for flexible workspaces. I believe we’ll be seeing more Hot Desks and multi-functional elements like stand up desks and breakaway spaces. Ergonomics is key to help improve staff wellness and more companies are investing in ergonomics – which can save you money in the long run. Even execs want more of a flexible environment. More flexibility in meetings is also on the rise as it allows you to be more productive, Fast Company reports that, “standing up leads to greater excitement about the creative process and it allows for greater collaboration on ideas”. This element of this trend also supports the remote working environment as people can pop in for a quick meeting and go.

What about decor trends?

Colours and patterns in space design tend to follow on from the fashion trends in previous years. With everything I’ve seen coming up lately I see geometric and constellation pattern making a feature in 2018. Colour blocking will continue to feature and I think we’ll start seeing more colour blocking superimposed over patterns.

Like I’ve said, the connection to the outdoors is something that South Africans crave so I definitely see the artisan influence continuing, and in addition to the neutral colours and natural furniture, things like adding plants and glass to the space will continue to be featured in 2018.

Ready to bring these trends into your office space? Book a consultation with any of the time&space team and we’ll help you bring your office space into 2018.

Contact Us

Derek Stedman

Author Derek Stedman

More posts by Derek Stedman