Dubai-based interior designers discuss the latest trends and challenges in office design

16 Feb 2020
news

At a recent roundtable held by OFIS and its key office furniture partner Steelcase, Dubai-based interior designers and industry professionals came together to discuss the latest trends and insights affecting the realms of the workspace and office design.

Titled "New work. New Rules", key stakeholders from the local design community shared their expertise on how design can empower agility and resilience at work as well as the everyday challenges they're facing while delivering fast-paced projects across the Middle East region.

The panel included: Laila Al-Yousuf, design director at SAY Studio, Yullianna Porter, head of workplace design at JLL MENA, Paul Ludlam, director, project & development services at JLL MENA, Kathryn Athreya, managing director at Roar, Amber Peters, senior interior designer at Bluehaus Group, Adriana Graur, associate design director at DWP, Zoe Burnett, senior interior designer at RSP, Hani Asfour, dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, Alessandro Centrone, Steelcase product marketing VP, Hasan Alharbi, regional director at Steelcase, Claudia Rus, workplace design consultant at Steelcase, and Gianni Sharrouf, general manager at OFIS.

Alessandro Centrone of Steelcase shared with the participants the latest insights and learnings from Steelcase's global client base.

He explained that organizations find it more challenging to plan for the future with all the uncertainties - political, economic, and technological - surrounding them. As these organizations need to continue to invest in real estate and building suitable environments for their teams to perform, the pressure grows on the entire supply chain: from architects and designers to project managers to furniture manufacturers and local dealers.

"An average lifespan of an office is now reduced, so it will be interesting to see how this shift further affects the design and real estate industry as well as our manufacturing process," explained Centrone.

Yullianna Porter of JLL described the clients in the market as "reactive," making the last-minute decisions about projects, which often forces the designers to offer products and solutions with shorter lead times or that are already available on the market.

"However, the clients are still expecting the same responses, speed, and quality of work, despite the shorter lead times," added Yullianna.

On the other hand, Adriana Graur of DWP, believes that designers have the responsibility to educate the clients to make the right decisions for their projects.

 “Our role as designers is to help clients successfully achieve their business goals, even if we have to fight such battles with them with unrealistic timelines and budgets,” she said.

Commenting on the current market, design director at SAY Studio, Laila Al Yousuf, noticed that big corporates are now choosing home-grown boutique design firms over large and global design practices due to their agility.

Agile working is becoming more than a buzzword, but the norm for teams across the world, including interior design practices. This comes as no surprise considering that Millennials now comprise half of the global workforce and will make up almost 75% of the workforce by 2025, according to statistics.

"Generation changes are now driving a more holistic approach to office design. The younger generations are pushing for more collaborative spaces that will allow them flexibility at work," added Laila.

JLL's project director Paul Ludlam agreed that younger generations are no longer bound to their desks, describing an everyday work scenario at JLL's office in Dubai: "They don't want to work the same way Yullianna and I work. We love to sit at our desks while they want to be flexible and work from all over the place or a coffee shop," said Paul. 

As the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world, Steelcase has been at the forefront of reimagining the workplace and helping teams achieve more while having a much better experience at work. Looking at their extensive client database, Centrone shared with a panel that more than 50% of purchasing decision-makers are now coming from HR departments.

According to him, human resource managers are becoming more aware that the human-centered office spaces are not only supporting current employees but also attracting new talent.

Bluehaus' senior interior designer, Amber Peters, also noticed a positive shift in clients' approach when it comes to the overall employee wellbeing.

"We're noticing that the clients are now more educated and pushing the boundaries for wellness concepts. A few years ago, designers were the ones proposing such concepts but the clients are now driving a more holistic approach to workplace design. They want spaces where their employees can work and collaborate but also relax and rejuvenate," explained Amber.

Next

From one's bedroom to a full-fledged design studio in d3, Roar design firm, headed by Pallavi Dean, has recently undergone an extensive office refurbishment, addressing the needs of its staff.

Kathryn Athreya of Roar commented: "We worked very closely with workplace psychologist to better understand the needs of our design team and what kind of office environment they want for themselves. They work so hard on multiple projects so it was crucial to give them space that supports their privacy and needs to work alone and in teams. We often meditate together in the morning and people are encouraged to have power naps. It became part of our company culture."

However, Roar's managing director noticed that "flexible working hours can often disrupt collaboration processes." She continued: "In our office, everyone still comes and goes as they want, but we've established block hours when we asked everyone to be in the office so they can work as a team."

From closed cubicles to open-plan offices, so what's next in office design? Zoe Burnett of RSP explained how co-working spaces, such as WeWork, are not only revolutionizing the way people work but also affecting other sectors, especially hospitality.

Burnett commented: "Collaborative spaces are no longer limited to office environments. We see workspace designs now emerging within the hospitality sector. Due to technology, people are nowadays taking work with them and are always switched on. Office furniture is now evolving to be used  in many different commercial spaces."

Having spent years designing commercial spaces before joining the newly established Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, Hani Asfour shared his thoughts about the importance of creating multiple zones within a workspace that can support different work scenarios.

"It's important to create a sense of diversity with multiple settings in an office by creating episodes of delight and allowing people to move freely within their office spaces."

Being a Steelcase dealer and a trusted partner in the UAE, Gianni Sharrouf of OFIS engaged in a discussion to better understand how furniture dealers can support their projects more efficiently.

"For more than three decades, OFIS has been working hand-in-hand with many architects and designers, helping them find the right solutions for the spaces they design, together with our core partners such as Steelcase. We must have continuous dialogues with our local design community so we can better understand the challenges they're currently facing and be more agile in our approach and services that we offer," explained Sharrouf.

The participants also discussed the main drivers of new space requirements and how is that evolving with Generations Y and Z becoming a predominant workforce. The panel looked at the client involvement in the process, pressures on timelines and delivery, and challenges both furniture manufacturers and designers are facing when it comes to cost vs. quality.

The event took place at ESAG Design Hub in Dubai Design District. 

 

You might also be interested in...

news
OFIS - A new visual identity

OFIS’s rebranding ties with its new goals, to provide holistic solutions for the offices and commercial spaces of the future

Learn More
news
Interface carbon neutral floors

Get a certificate proving your commitment to lowering your carbon footprint in 3 easy steps.

Learn More
news
First look: New Look Both Ways office carpet tiles and LVT collection from Interface

Melia Abs, concept designer at OFIS, takes us inside ESAG Design Hub in Dubai Design District and introduces Look Both Ways, the latest office carpet and LVT collection from Interface. Designed by Kari Pei, product designer at Interface, this is the first time that we see in one collection, both carpet tiles and luxury vinyl tiles - LVT.

Learn More
news
Leading through a crisis: I’m only human, after all

During the recently held webinar co-hosted by OFIS and Cosentino, Lucy Kidd, a business psychologist and leadership consultant, and design and build industry leaders – Kristina Zanic, Keenan Grote and Mariam Halim Kamel – shared their truths on how they’re currently navigating their teams through the coronavirus crisis while staying humans – after all.

Learn More
news
Back to work: Rethinking office design trends in a post-COVID world

As interior designers, we’ve been given an opportunity to put a new lens on creating healthier offices in a post-COVID-19 world. What will the office of the future look like in this new Coronavirus reality and what office furniture solutions can we provide to our clients?

Learn More
news
Is work from home here to stay? Check out our home and office furniture inspirations

Will you continue to work from home after the coronavirus pandemic? Our concept designer Melia Abs shares her weekly dose of inspiration, envisioning her perfect home office, using residential and office furniture products from our Spanish partner Sancal.

Learn More
news
Surreal and social: Reimagining the post-Covid social spaces and collaborative furniture

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, collaborating and meeting in big groups still seems a bit surreal - as an idea beyond reality. However, as people are now gradually returning to their offices, how do we ensure that they are back to a safe workspace environment? Fatma ElFeki, interior designer at Dubai-based design studio Roar and Melia Abs, concept designer at OFIS, joined forces and worked together on selecting collaborative furniture while imaging a perfect “khalina nsharek” or “let’s collaborate” workspace in a surreal setting.

Learn More
news
Thinking in shades of blue: How to use Pantone Color of the Year in office spaces?

Over the years Pantone Color Institute with its Color of the Year selection has influenced not only fashion, product design and residential interior trends, but also the way work environment and office furniture are designed. Today, we’re thinking in shades of classic blue together with Abeer Zaidi, FF&E manager at Swiss Bureau Interior Design. We are exploring a range of different office furniture products that can help you incorporate various shades of blue (from baby to navy blue) in workspace environments without overwhelming the space.

Learn More
© 2018 OFIS - Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group. All Rights Reserved. Developed by tentwenty*tentwenty*