Digital transformation and an uncharted future for workplace design in 2019

In some way, humans have touched every single thing on this planet. We’re stepping into unknown territory. We’re changing everything. Think about that. Now, think about digital transformation. New technologies are changing how we interact with our environment, how we work, how we play and how we live. Tech tools are being more readily adopted as they get better and more accessible and, as a result our attitudes about them are changing. These are big ideas. And, they are rapidly changing our work and the domain of workplace design around the world.

As we look ahead to 2019, we are both working with teams in the US, Europe and Asia to understand how global shifts are influencing workplace design. At the start of 2018, we shared design influenceswe anticipated for the new year. These influences have continued to evolve and we’ve reached a tipping point in a few areas that will become even more evident in 2019.

Relearning empathy

Access to limitless information in a chaotic and changing world has only helped us further filter our perspectives. We can easily mute and unfollow voices and opinions that don’t match our own. The result is more polarization. At the same time, communities are rewriting and reinterpreting their past, present and future and regaining a sense of control and empowerment. As our identities diversify and a lack of trust builds, emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes highly valued as the boundaries between cultures merge.

design impact | This is where surrealism is brought in. We’re seeing designs in a traditional context with futuristic forms. We’re not letting go of the past, we’re reinterpreting it. We’re seeing designers explicitly show human intention and a rejection of an outright algorithm.

Designers will embrace differences and focus on the details that help parts come together. This manifests in modular configurations and deliberate mismatching. It’s not about a holistic look. It’s about making a statement, mashing up material choices and the fragmentation of pattern and texture combinations to celebrate the human hand in design.


Engineered naturals

The boundaries between what is natural and what is synthetic have begun to blur. We see this throughout our ecosystem. Jungle animals have evolved to become nocturnal in order to avoid human contact. The use and acceptance of GMO crops is becoming the new normal as the planet strives to feed 7.8 billion people (projected by 2020). We are biohacking our health — editing genomes to seek a cure for cancer and fight genetic disorders. And, we’re developing synthetic senses — creating prosthetics that feel pain and pressure because pain is a survival trait.