I recently attended Orgatec 2014, in Cologne, Germany to examine the international landscape for trade working environments. The event was an exciting one – I explored a whole host of interesting themes related to office and workplace design, to gain a deeper understanding of their impact on employee well-being.
A theme that proved popular for attendees and delegates alike was acoustics in the workplace. Sound can have a serious impact on the health of workers, so it’s understandable that designers would be interested in ways to ensure a quieter workplace.
There were a number of standout solutions on display, but some of the most popular were those inspired by nature, such as the walls made of cork pressed grass and textile partitions.
Visual comfort was another major topic this year, with office designers becoming increasingly concerned about the effect of the visual environment on employee well-being. Delegates were interested in finding ways to make the most of natural light in offices, through the use of mirrors and glass.
Colour schemes inspired by the outdoors were also a big draw. The predominant shades at the show were blue tones, in combination with light grey, rose pastels, and copper accents.
Thinking about all of the conversations I had about these topics, though, it was clear they all had one major theme in common – that of biophilic design. The most popular solutions to acoustics and visual comfort were all inspired by natural elements, using the materials, the colours and textures of the outdoors.
From the greenery in the booths, to the wooden furniture and floor coverings that mimic the tones and shapes of nature, everything at Orgatec reflected this broader theme.
The importance of biophilia and the role of nature in the office environment was perhaps the key takeaway for many of the delegates at Orgatec 2014. Studies show that even light touches of the natural world in the workplace can have a major positive effect on the happiness of employees, helping to boost their wellbeing and even their productivity.
This is perhaps why so much of the show this year was influenced by the natural world. Biophilia can not just improve the lives of workers, but help increase the output of the businesses they are working for as well.
What do you think were the biggest themes at Orgatec 2014?