knowledge centre > office refurbishment and interior design trends for 2021

Office refurbishment and interior design trends for 2021

It’s around this time every year that we start looking ahead and turning our focus to the upcoming trends and movements within the industry to watch out for. From colours and textures right through to furniture, space configuration and workplace technology, we make it our mission to stay ahead of the most current office refurbishment and interior design trends to inform our transformation projects. This year we’re doing more of the same, albeit with a fresh perspective centralising the post-pandemic workspace.

Ahead of 2020, we predicted a rise in the appearance of huddle rooms for collaboration and co-working, additional provision for workplace privacy, and increased optimisation of outdoor work settings. In terms of look and feel, we forecast more sustainable and vegan materials in fabric libraries, and a trend for clashing colour palettes and pattern combinations.

For 2021 – and the areas we’re going to touch on in this article – our trend forecast for 2021 so far is shaping up a little something like this:

  • More provision for video conferencing facilities
  • Design-led space division
  • Increased collaboration spaces and a further reduction in assigned desks
  • A continuation of resimercial design features
  • Design and fit out which takes employee wellbeing more seriously than ever

Click here if you would like a recap of what our experts identified as the top office interior design trends for 2020.

Top tips on how to make an office feel like home

Commercial interior design trends to look out for in 2021

It goes without saying that the COVID crisis, which has dominated 2020 so profoundly, has had a significant impact on the trends we’re expecting to see taking the forefront next year. That said, as businesses continue to adapt and evolve, we cannot let Coronavirus considerations eclipse all of the other elements which are in play when it comes to fostering an effective and engaging working environment.

So, as the situation currently stands, here’s what you might be able to expect from the world of commercial interior design in the coming months:

Provision for video conferencing resource

With more staff working remotely, flexible working taking the forefront and ongoing restrictions still causing teams to be dispersed, video conference technology is going to key in maintaining connection, communication and collaboration. Naturally, the working environment will need to adapt in order to accommodate equipment such as screens and cameras to enable video conferencing resource to fulfill its potential.

Video Conference taking place on Media:Scape

Click here for more on why our experts think video conferencing technology is now set to become a necessity rather than the luxury it was until more recently.

Space division selected with design in mind

The first response in reaction to the government’s initial advice around social distancing between colleagues were the glass screen dividers that also became popular within the hospitality and leisure sector. However, in our article questioning whether retrofitting these types of screens was really the only option, we recommend looking into more visually-appealing and multi-purpose solutions that can offer more longevity.

As the so-called ‘new normal’ sets in and kneejerk reactions turn into more rational, calculated decisions, we’re expecting to see the response to space division and social distance become more design-led. Being able to implement infection control in a way which won’t impact on the appeal or function of the space is crucial for a holistic workspace solution. Staff need to feel and stay safe, sure, but they also need to enjoy their place of work in all of the same ways they did pre-pandemic.


Some alternative options to plastic screen dividers include:

  • Planters, living walls and other large and strategically placed indoor plants
  • Portable fabric space dividers made from attractive acoustic fabric
  • Write-on walls and screens designed for collaboration and idea-sharing

Shared workspaces over dedicated workstations

Keeping with the theme of more conscious behaviours surrounding what Steelcase are dubbing the Density, Geometry and Division of the workplace, assigned desks and hot-desking areas are expected to fall into the shadows. Instead, we predict a rise in shared work settings and collaboration zones with more soft seating, idea-sharing resource and a more modular configuration so that they can be adapted to requirement and a more fluid approach to teamwork.

Resimercial office design is a combination of elements from both commercial and residential interior design

A focus on resimercial look and feel

With working from home now more commonplace than ever before, employees are becoming naturally accustomed to a more casual approach to their working days. This more laidback approach is mirrored in both the physical space but also within company culture and patterns of behaviour. Many employees have been given access to an unprecedented amount of choice and control in when, how and where they work and will want this to continue.

Many people will now be looking for a workplace that feels and looks more like a home-from-home. The combination of resimercial and commercial design features – ‘resimercial’ – isn’t a new concept at all and is a design trend that has been gaining momentum for a number of years. It was never going anywhere for 2021 but the various shifts catalysed by COVID have only consolidated its appeal.

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