Unpacking the Design Process Part 2: Inspiration, Trends and the Evolution of Commercial Interior Design

 In better by design

From finding inspiration and keeping up to date with trends, to sharing how the industry has evolved, this interview provides a glimpse into the exciting and dynamic world of Outline’s commercial interior designers. Enjoy!

What are common sources of inspiration that you draw on to inform your projects?

L: “I’m a strong believer that interior follows fashion, so I often watch fashion programs and read fashion blogs. I especially believe that colour often follows fashion trends. Even down to jewelry, it’s gone from quite chunky, to very fine and delicate, and now it’s slowly going back to chunky. You see these movements also replicated in our field, such as transitions between more tonal phases to quite bold looks. Also tapping into other industries and going to different talks to hear how other creative people think can be really inspiring. It’s even collaborations within other industries such as music that are inspiring and it’s often exploring unlikely areas that result in quite exciting ideas. That’s the great thing about design is that you aren’t really creating the wheel anymore, but figuring out how to put combinations of elements together that have yet to be tapped into. And then I gain so much inspiration from technology and science, it’s so exciting to watch what’s happening with technology and how you can incorporate that into design. For example wellness is becoming a bigger factor in workplace strategy and the transition towards a home office idea. So it’s fun figuring out how to combine all those different elements and I’m constantly being inspired by new things all the time.”

When there are so many suppliers, products, and options to choose from, how do you decide?

L: “I think you are often led by the concept, it’s always about finding the right product for the right space and what will fulfill the brief. Say for carpet titles, you might fall in love with something but wait until you find the right project where it works, or you could create a whole concept around that particular element. But different designers have different things they focus on, say lighting can be really important for some, but I’ve always loved flooring as it can be such a defining feature in a commercial space. Then if I’m doing residential I’m all about fabric as a key thing to pull together, so it changes.”

Are there any particular brands that inspire you?

N: “I wouldn’t say there are specific brands, we often keep up to date with new products coming through a range of our suppliers rather than just focusing on one brand. That’s the skill of being a designer, being aware of the range of products and options out there. I mean everyone has favourites or people who you form good relationships with, but you often have to keep an open mind as usually you find really unique or cool pieces just in the process of suppliers presenting a range of new things which is always exciting.”

What are current interior design trends you are loving at the moment?

L: “I’m liking softer colour palettes as oppose to those primary colours. I’m also loving the shift towards blending the home and office and having more of a resi-mercial feel. There’s so much technology increasing around agile and flexible workspaces. We’re also starting to see a lot more sustainability coming into design, and it’s slowly becoming more important for clients and employees which is a positive sign.”

N: “I’m loving fluted details on anything really, I think that’s very on-trend. Also radius edges and layering lots of textures. I’m also enjoying more of a mix between commercial and residential spaces, so not necessarily doing crazy bright colours everywhere but keeping things more tonal and calm. It does always depends on how crazy the client wants to go with their design but I’m loving those things right now.”

Do you think your designs stay on trend or are more trend setters?

L: “Outline Design is very timeless and I think that comes from our creative director Victoria. Our designs aren’t ‘trendy’ because we create spaces that will be beautiful and functional for years and years. I think Victoria’s timeless quality and great collaboration within the team means we create designs that don’t date. And I’d say that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learnt from working at Outline – creating designs that are never just a passing trend. So no Outline is not trendy, Outline is timeless.”

How do you ensure each project is unique and prevent repetition in your designs?

L: “I think our inspiration is always different for every project. Sometimes there are products that you fall in love with, but if you create a really good framework and concept, you’re not really going to get that because you have a logical reason for every decision you make. And often you are led by the client and their branding, so it makes it difficult to repeat the same thing over and over even if you wanted to.”

How has commercial design changed over the years since working for Outline?

L: “I think the focus has changed, when I first started it was about creating spaces that could fit bums on seats and take the most advantage of a space. Words like ‘collaboration’ were starting to become buzz words just as I was entering the industry, but now it has shifted to focusing more on the diversity of how people work and designing spaces that encompass those differences. In commercial design, we now really focus on how people interact and utilize a space, and I think the same goes for education design as well. And again there’s been such a shift towards a home and work-life balance. Spaces are now designed to draw people in and facilitate creativity, efficiency, and comfortability. And building from that, agile working is becoming more important, so moving away from the cubicle style offices, to thinking about meeting areas, focus spots, quiet spaces and all of those aspects which foster connections. Designers have taken that old school water cooler notion, where you have ‘bump meetings’ and create spaces that encourage those opportunities. Commercial design today is all about open-plan work areas and a flat managerial structure as oppose to clear hierarchies, so that has also been really exciting to see. This industry is constantly changing which is why I love it so much.”

About Outline Design

Outline Design is an established commercial interior design firm based in Auckland, New Zealand offering the full range of interior design services. To find out more contact us.

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