Interior Design of the Modern Office: What Changed in the 21st Century
Interior Design of the Modern Office: What Changed in the 21st Century

First offices date back to the Roman empire. They were designed to allow people to tend to administrative tasks. The interior office design has been evolving ever since. This evolution has never stopped. New trends in interior office design emerge every year.

When we look at the bigger picture, we can see that there is a vast difference in interior office design before and after the 2000s. Let’s explore the changes the 21st century brought to the interior design of modern offices and which factors played a leading role in driving these changes.

The Factors Driving Change in Modern Office Interior Design

The 21st century brought brand new career paths along with it. The new companies start building entirely new company cultures, thus presenting new challenges to interior designers and design studios. Suddenly, there were dozens upon dozens of professions that had to spend 8+ hours a day in an office doing creative work.

As if someone had whispered in the ears of the interior designers: “Make them feel at home.” Conventional offices simply could not deliver this. The white walls, closed spaces, dull ceiling, and classic office furniture were not enough to cut it.

After all, the new office space has to support long hours spent analyzing data, designing, writing code, brainstorming sessions. There was also the need for spaces that promote team building and seamless interaction.

All of the above challenges demanded an answer from interior designers. The answer came, and the modern office interior design completely changed its face in the 21st century.

Alternative Work Spaces

Thanks to studies in the field of work efficiency, companies have figured out that not all the employees are the same. Some thrive in confined spaces, some love working in open areas, while others prefer changing their work environment throughout a day. Offer your workforce the convenience of having access to different work environments at work, and productivity and efficiency will spike.

This is one of the most noticeable changes the 21st century brought to interior office design. This is why many modern offices feature several different alternative workspaces. We are not talking about offices that feature different colors. No.

Modern company offices feature completely different interior designs. While some are put in an open space, others resemble living rooms. Some look so cozy and home-friendly that you can’t tell if it is an office or a get-away home. More so, with the emergence of office refurbishment services, businesses now have a seamless way to revamp their workspaces. These services provide customized solutions that cater to the specific needs of each business, offering design expertise and project management to transform outdated offices into vibrant and versatile environments.

Focused Spaces

No matter the industry, there are always those tasks that require maximum concentration to be finished. The physical workspace has to be able to cue good work habits and allows workers to retreat to have a moment of silence. Say hello to focused spaces, a brand new feature in interior office design.

There are focused spaces of different shapes and sizes. It all depends on the purpose it has to play in the day to day business activities. Small, concentrated spaces that accommodate up to two workers are great for privacy, and when something needs to be quickly designed or completed.

Focused spaces for collaboration and meetings are also in the game, allowing people to work together without disturbing their co-workers. When working on focused spaces and workspace floor plans, managers and designers can collaborate and use technology to the company’s advantage. This innovative modern solution helps reach your office design goals digitally. This will hasten the planning stage and finish the project early for space utilization, thus preventing business disruptions.


Before the 2000s, it was almost impossible to see upholstery on the walls and textured fabric panels in offices. The offices that did feature these elements featured one color that had nothing to do with the brand. Brand marketing is critical these days. And branding efforts can be seen in interior office design across the world.

Upholstery and fabric are often used to make a design statement. With office design, they are leveraged to open up space and tell the company story. Companies work hand in hand with interior designers to seize all branding opportunities the design can offer. This promotes a sense of attachment to the company and completes the puzzle of consistent branding efforts.

Social Spaces

Social spaces are not a new thing in the world of office design. We have to admit that they all looked uniform and were only included to serve as dining areas. Modern offices feature different social spaces, each one with a unique purpose. Employees utilize different spaces, and one of the most favourite is the social spaces. This are places where people can comfortably gather and interact with each other. People can work from their laptops and access the internet via Wi-Fi. In general, they’re areas between formal meeting rooms and workstations, including kitchens or pantries and breakout areas. Below are the other examples of social places.

Quiet Rooms

Quiet rooms as social spaces are different than those designed for work, efficiency, and collaboration. The quiet rooms we are talking about are a soundless oasis where workers can retreat whenever they need their piece of mind.

There is also the fact that half of the people are introverts. Their energy levels get depleted when they are exposed to social interactions. Quiet rooms can help them restore their energy and remain productive.

Quiet rooms don’t look anything like an office. They feature elements that inspire calmness and look more like rooms in private houses than offices in a company building.

Lunch Cafe

Old fashioned dining areas are a thing of the past now. The 21st century replaced them with colorful and almost artistic lunch cafes. With bars, a variety of tables and chairs, these areas are now inviting and relaxing. The use of colors has also changed. Lunch cafes now feature:

  • Shades of red known for promoting social interactions and liveliness
  • Orange know for its ability to improve comfort
  • Yellow because it invokes feelings of happiness

Game Room

Entertainment has also entered the workspace, and interior designers had to include gaming room designs in their portfolios. These are often open spaces with plenty of light, comfortable furniture, and all sorts of games (mini football, darts, arcade games, consoles, etc.). In the modern office, we can create collaborative, breakout spaces by incorporating modern chairs and tables, arcade games, and televisions. It can be a space for employees to relax and unwind, in between work. While social spaces were previously perceived as “nice to have” features, these spaces are crucial in employee productivity and retention.

Brand New Biophilic Design

When it comes to brand new trends in modern office interior design, biophilic design is the first thing that comes to mind. The primary purpose of biophilic design is to reduce stress and create a calming effect in both small and large offices. To achieve it, interior designers started playing with furniture items shaped to reflect objects in nature.

Plants are trendy again, and wood has become the dominant material in the biophilic design. Light plays an important role once again. Designers are doing their best to minimize the use of artificial lighting. Modern offices feature large windows and organic colors such as shades of green and brown.

Color Blocking

Color blocking is a trendy concept in art and graphic design in general. Most often, you can see it in the designs of popular fashion. In the 21st century, it has broken out of the world of fashion and came into interior design. Color blocking encompasses the use of solid colors, but only those that are opposite of one another on the color wheel.

Color blocking introduces that moment of freshness in an office space. Thanks to color blocking, spaces become stimulating and eye-catching. Regular combinations include blue with yellow or orange, pink with green, and so on.

Seating for Everyone

Seating is no longer a thing of uniformity. In the past, offices usually featured 1 to 2 types of seating. The new age has changed this. Modern office interior design is based on flexible seating. Some models include 5 + different seating solutions, allowing employees to choose the one that suits their personal needs and preferences.

Companies are no longer rigorous with their seating policies allowing designers to accommodate space even better. Flexible seating will enable employees to change their views whenever they want. Modern offices feature lazy bags, cafe-style high tables, sofas, comfy chairs, and the variety of floor cushions and pillows.

Furniture to Facilitate Collaboration

While we are at flexible and unique seating options, we have to mention one more trend that’s quickly catching on - furniture that facilitates collaboration. Collaboration has found its place in the culture of many companies. It is in a central place, and companies do their best to promote it. Interior designers came up with new and creative ways to encourage it.

The solutions are many. The most common ones include large collaborative areas featuring small to large meeting desks or freestanding media units. More busy workplaces feature acoustic pods. The furniture industry created many collaborative furniture products making it easier for designers to plan and deliver eye-catching and yet functional designs.

Recycled Materials

Back in the 20th-century, companies were not as ecologically-aware and responsible as they are now. Aligning with like-minded employees, customers, and clients is a great way to build a prospective business. And what better way to do it but to incorporate recycled materials in office interior design.

You would be amazed to see how chic the recycled, recreated, and repurposed office items are. They are easy to incorporate in different office styles. It is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and relieve your country’s landfills.

There are different ways to use recyclables in a modern office. For example, an office in Japan was designed using shipping pallets and another office in California reclaimed barn wood to make a logo sign. These environmentally-friendly solutions are suitable to incorporate even on modern office designs.

The 21st century brought a lot of changes to the office interior design. Interior design’s primary purpose is no longer to promote productivity and efficiency directly but through a proxy - workforce. Alternative and focused workspaces, branding efforts, social areas, biophilic design, color blocking, and flexible seating make the picture of modern office interior design. Something tells us that we are still not done with office design trends. Keep your eyes open for the hot emerging trends.