November 5, 2013

Principals Roundtable: Debating the Future of Product Design

This is the third in a series of three articles that will cover the main issues discussed at the recent principals roundtable held by Interior Design and IIDA at NeoCon East 2013 in Baltimore, MD.

The 38 designers and architects who attended our most recent Principals Roundtable at NeoCon East revealed the new products they were most excited about—or would like to see coming down the pike. Overall, the focus seemed to be toward the future. With millennials heavily influencing trends, technological improvements are being made to furniture. Green and sustainable products are very important to this group of designers and architects. Now we’re waiting to see how these great new products are used in upcoming projects and if these new ideas come to fruition. Interior Design president Mark Strauss and IIDA executive vice president and CEO Cheryl Durst moderated.

LED Fabric: We see it on the runways and the glow is spectacular, so why has it not transitioned to textiles yet? Rhea Valfor of Hickok Cole thinks this new technology would be really incredible as wallcovering. Similarly, many designers voiced a desire to better intertwine technology and architecture.

Going Green: As more and more green products come onto the market, designers strive to be as sustainable as possible with their projects—this was true for all in attendance. However, many agreed that builders and construction managers still seem to be stuck in the past. How do we translate designers’ green practices to construction?

Dekton by Cosentino: This ultra-compact surface combines a mixture of inorganic materials, which can be used both indoors and outdoors due to its resistance to UV rays. Not only is it highly practical, but with a variety of colors and textures Dekton allows designers to create a highly customizable feel.

The Return of Brass: Some are thrilled this cool retro finish is back; others complained that it took 30 years to get rid of brass and were not happy to see it return.

Standing in the Office: With new research showing that sitting down the entire day working is the modern day equivalent to smoking cigarettes, height-adjustable workstations are all the rage. From conference tables to desks, designers now have more options and features to offer their clients. Also, many noted that with these standing conference tables come shorter, more effective meetings. Sounds like a win for all.

A Natural Look: Often, people want the look of unfinished materials but this is clearly impractical for high traffic areas. The result? More materials that look raw and natural but are actually finished.  

Connectivity is Changing Furniture: With the surge of wireless devices, we have to carry chargers around with us wherever we go. The worst is trying to find an outlet to plug a cellphone, laptop, etc., when there are no outlets or they do not reach where the seating areas. Therefore, manufacturers are now starting to integrate places for outlets and cords, make everyone’s life just a little bit easier.

New Office Furniture: With the millennials influencing new ways of working in the office, new furniture has been created to fit the loungy lifestyle of this younger generation. On the other spectrum, there are some contract furniture lines that have not changed in years. The designers hope that these manufacturers could somehow meet in the middle: updating the old, and making the new more ergonomic.

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