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Materiality in workplace environments post COVID-19

Kerry Deffley, design manager EMEA, Shaw Contract, on materials, trends and colours that will take over the workplace environment post-pandemic

Kerry Deffley, Shaw Contract

Post COVID-19 lockdown it is likely that we will all be adopting new ways of working for a considerable period. This will certainly impact both workplace design and materials and looks specified for interiors. While a connection to nature has been a trend for some time in workplace design, it will come into a sharper focus through deliberate interventions and a deeper focus on the psychological and physiological effects of space. Breakout spaces and areas for ‘refuge’ and recuperation, thermal and acoustic comfort, and the use of patterns, textures and materials which reference a connection to the natural world.

We think the popular ‘resi-merical’ trend that we have been seeing adopted into workspaces over the past few years will also resonate. The emotional connection to home again is also about comfort, well-being, and with it warmth, softness, and sense of place. But new ways of working are likely to include provision and guidance for social distancing in the workplace. Modular flooring offers great flexibility for creating zones, wayfinding and distancing using colour and textures, and installation methods.

Trend reports are also predicting some interesting choices post-COVID which summarised are about restorative colour. These include colours to enhance well-being – tones to create a clean, hygienic feel including mints and aquas. While pale and dusty pastel tones associated with calm and comfort are being introduced. Nourishing earth tones are also on-trend, with plant-based colours to help us reconnect with nature and the outdoors. We are also likely to see colours to enhance well-being by embracing fun and joy – brights such as reds, oranges, lime green and cobalt blue – as accent colours, and to zone floor spaces.

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