Wood Works!

The use of wood in workspace design is a trend to watch for in 2016, but we’re already seeing this trend take place in the office. We are seeing more refined elements of wood being implemented in the office versus the rustic aesthetic. Wood was an original, and very essential material used when defining the modern workplace.

The 2016 trends use a more refined approach in all aspects of the office. A balance is being created in how the materials are being used. This isn’t about making the office the home, but the creation of warmth, refinement, and a nod to the environment and craftsmanship can send a powerful message.

Through the decades, wood has been used to communicate hierarchy, status, and leadership roles. During the late 80’s and 90’s, until the dot-com crash, wood was used all throughout the office, especially on open plan workstations. This was a move to promote company establishment and the beginning of breaking down the hierarchical boundaries. We see the pendulum swing more to the middle of appreciating the warmth of the natural material, without it being ostentatious or rustic.

The use of wood widely used in the office also started an essential conversation on conservation. The deforestation of wood leads to great global environmental issues and contributing to global warming. When harvesting woods from managed forests, this practice can actually promote both business and sustainability. In a managed forest, no more wood is harvested than is re-grown. Trees are replanted or naturally regenerated after harvesting, and local employment is encouraged. In addition, managed forests are maintained as habitats for wild animals and plants, and functions of the forest for the protection of soil and climate are protected. Buy procuring wood from managed forests, businesses can support sustainability and promote environmental responsibility.

The idea of wood as an element of design is not new by any stretch, but the use, placement, and blending with other elements is driving a new trend. Here are a few ways we see wood used in workspace design:

Wood as an architectural element. Again, not a new element, but gone are the traditional details, even in the most image driven companies. The use is inviting and warm. The message wood as an architectural element sends is that we are approachable, comfortable, and refined.

Wood in common spaces. When planning cafes and break areas wood was not a leading material used in the past. Now, instead of the white laminate counter, the introduction of wood in specific areas of the Harvest or Parsons table again, sends the message of comfort

Wood and furniture. We are seeing wood on some furniture elements, but not all. It’s all about finding the right mix. We still see wood in the traditional places of conference rooms and private offices, but the aesthetic is changing. It’s about how the wood works with other materials and allowing it to make a beautiful statement versus adding tons of additional trims pieces to make it look “traditional.” Mid-century modern pieces used refined wood as an essential element. We are seeing that trend boomerang back.