25 years; looking forward, looking back

Posted by Hayley Blacker on 29/03/2017

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Celebrating 25 years in business; we look back, and look forward to the workplace of the future

Having been leading the way in the design and build world for 25 years now, here we look back briefly to how it all started in 1992. Then we fast forward to present day, and provide an insight into what we expect to see in the workplace of the future. 

A short look back

Starting in 1992 Interaction was founded by Structural Engineer Paul Haskins. Paul identified a lack of innovation and evolution in the industry, and sought to address this by simplifying the process of design and build. Paul took the initiative and created a unified platform for clients to go to, without the complicated process of dealing with the whole supply chain. This was how the word ‘Interaction’ came to fruition, creating an interactive partnership that focuses on collaboration and takes the responsibility for every aspect of the design and build process. 

The aim was to attract like minded people with a similar vision, to help take the first step in creating something collaborative, irrespective of the traditional methods of the discipline. Back then, this was unheard of, but Interaction remained defiant to revolutionise the processes at the time, making it much easier for clients to deal with. 

From then on, by creating amazing spaces, maintaining great relationships with clients and keeping the same core principles, Interaction have had a fantastic 25 years. It’s time to look forward to the next 25 years to the things that will influence office design in this time. 

The workplace of the future 

Whilst we’re not overly susceptible to making unrepresentative and sweeping predictions, we think it’s important to utilise the knowledge cultivated over the last 25 years to look to the future. Here, we have pointed out a few broad but important trends we expect to influence the workplace in the coming years. 

1. The ultimate buzzword; technology

You can’t really talk about the workplace of the future and not mention technology. Today, we see a hoard of tech-companies who are predictably leading the way in the innovation and use of technology in the workplace. As more industries recognise the value of technology, in the next 25 years we see the digital ambition spreading beyond the tech industry, to become commonplace in the office. 

Technology of the future we see as being all about communication, utilised as a tool to improve connectivity. The words ‘technology’ and ‘human’, could be considered antitheses, but we believe technology is all about aiding the human elements of our work. The intention to seamlessly integrate with function and collaboration, which can be seen through smart meeting rooms or virtual meetings. Useful tech is already out there to aid us in the workplace, and this innovation will only continue into the future. 

2. 'The Third Space' 

Flexibility is an over-used term, but that doesn’t undermine its significance. Flexibility in the workplace has been established as being a key principle for some time within office design, as shown with Google’s attempt at creating their own flexible meeting pods for their new London office.

The word flexibility is ambiguous without context, because it can mean many things in the workplace. What we envisage in the future is the creation and implementation of more flexible furniture and flexible space. ‘The Third Space’ is becoming a commonly used phrase, which refers to a space between work and home, something the workplace of the future may represent. The astronomical rise in co-working also represents the indisputable need for agility in the workplace, which can be utilised by small start-ups through to big corporations. 

3. Subliminal Design

The intangibility of designing for the subconscious has meant it is often omitted from the design priority. But with the rise in collective psychology, a general acceptance of this discipline within design is developing. We are seeing more clients wanting to gain an insight into the needs and desires of their teams. This offers a greater understanding of the types of spaces needed to allow teams to work effectively and to increase wellbeing. 

The historic theories of psychology are now being rediscovered. Phrases like the psychology of colour, the ‘feel’ of a space, emotional intelligence and our hierarchy of needs are creeping in to our design vocabulary. This design focus will only become more important in the next 25 years. 

4. Bright eyed and bushy tailed 

Most people are aware that Generation Y (people born between the 1980’s and 1990’s) are a substantial part of todays workforce. The attitudinal disparities between Generation Y and the generations before have been well-covered, with Simon Sinek’s interview about ‘millennials’ brandished all over Facebook and YouTube. Generational shifts over the next 25 years will inevitably come with unique attitudinal shifts akin to those that we’ve seen in this generation. In the future, companies will continue to adapt, in fear of a stagnant workplace design that may mean failing to attract the talent within the up-and-coming generation. 

To explore the most contemporary ideas around the evolution of office design, we asked Generation Y to design the workplace of the future, teaming up with global furniture manufacture Vitra. We tasked students from three universities; Arts University Bournemouth, University of South Wales and Kingston University - to design and conceptualise what they think the workplace of the future will be like. The winner gets the special prize of visiting Vitra’s campus in Basel. Below is the winner, James Gould, 26 from University of South Wales, visualisation of the workplace of the future; a temporary structure on the coast of Australia. 

To the next 25 years 

To be celebrating 25 years in business is not an easy feat in anyone’s books, through volatile markets, technological shifts and an ever-changing society. The fact that Interaction has not only managed to remain stable, but flourish, grow and innovate is testament to the culture, values and people of the company. Here’s to the next 25!