Clerkenwell Design Week, the annual exhibition of fresh interior aesthetic and innovation, has been on show across the last three days in…well, Clerkenwell.  Leading us on a merry trail around the London district, a wide array of venues had opened their doors to professionals in the design and technology industries, displaying various examples of modern design and how it can be integrated into the commercial and residential sectors.  Viastak were in attendance with our emphasis in the commercial area, helping businesses to streamline and grow through incorporating the use of cutting-edge technology – and we were not disappointed with what we found!

The exhibits (such as the one displayed above) were bright and novel, with many examples of intriguing furniture, walling and lighting design.  In particular, the latter offered some beautiful filament copper lights which certainly brightened up the morning.  Notably, many of the exhibits in venues such as the ICON House of Culture in Smithfield were just as concerned with technological, functional value as with aesthetics, showing how design and technology can mesh together.  We enjoyed the motorised, rotating carpet!  A real highlight of the day came at the Davison Highley building, where Shaun Baker, Head of Workplace Design at Crown Workplace Relocations, spoke about the real issues facing office workers in the 21st century.

Leading with the tagline “time to grow up,” Shaun reasoned that after decades of continual advances in workplace design, commerce has become stuck in something of a rut with no significant progression from the 2000s trends.  The focus of office design is, however, slowly shifting towards employee “wellbeing,” here defined as a state of good physical, mental and social health.  Things such as natural light and posture-supportive furniture can, at first sight, seem like superficial elements of an office.  In fact, they are increasingly considered to be crucial to a workplace that promotes wellbeing – and in turn, wellbeing encourages productivity.  This is in stark contrast to the gimmicks often implemented in 2000s offices – as Shaun questioned, what do the likes of slides or ball pits, heartily favoured in the last decade, really add to a business in terms of tangible results?

Notably, Shaun also spoke about the future-proof workplace in terms of technology.  Research undertaken by Crown showed that 43% of workers expected cloud computing to become important in the immediate and long-term future.  This fits neatly with the statistic that 41% expected flexible working hours to become a crucial part of the regular job in commerce – the two go hand-in-hand since the cloud desktop allows employees to access any company data they need from any location, using any device they choose.  Shaun also made reference to the fact that humans are social animals; they need to be together.  The truth is that people often think about agile working in terms of logging on from home or on holiday, but in practice it most often means the freedom to move around the office – making communication of new ideas fluid and natural.  The Internet of Things and Bring-Your-Own-Device strategies should also become far more prevalent.

Above all, the one phrase that we would communicate more strongly from Clerkenwell Design Week is the phrase in our title: “Technology Is Always The Driver.”  (That and the strange correlation between the sci-fi devices in 70s Star Trek and the device we use in real life now.)  Design may vary but as the modern office model becomes more geared to producing a balance between wellbeing and productivity, technology will be the fulcrum.  The week was worthwhile and successful, and we congratulate the organisers.