Even as office-design experts tout a “green” resurgence in today’s workspaces — in plant life and environmental sustainability — the next trend already is on its way.
Green and living, it is not.
In writing last August about the “Hottest Office Design Trends of 2018,” an Ambius.com blogger took note of a “Cement Everything” trend gaining steam since 2016, even as plant- and sunlight-friendly “biophilic design” reigns supreme.
“No longer relegated to the outdoors, you’ll find cement in homes, restaurants, offices and just about anywhere and everywhere these days,” wrote Zack Sterkenberg. “Traditionally non-cement features such as floors, countertops, plant containers, sinks and shelving are now being built and intricately designed using cement and inlaid with wood, stonework or even paint.”
In singing the praises of cement, the major ingredient in concrete, Sterkenberg called attention to its “simple, minimalist aesthetic, clean and smooth lines, well-documented toughness and surprising versatility.”
To be scientifically accurate, this “cement” aesthetic ought to be called “concrete,” said Dana Vaux, director of the interior design program at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
No matter the name, she added, the trend is reminiscent of Bauhaus design, which emerged after World War I, and the more current mid-century modern movement.
Pairing concrete walls and floors with green plants and neutral colors to break up the light color of the concrete promotes what Sterkenberg called “a stunning juxtaposition that stands out as modern and industrial.”
Reliance on concrete has two important drawbacks in light of the push for more comfortable and healthful workplaces, noted Vaux and Nanci Stephenson, interior design program coordinator at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.
“A concrete floor is very durable and long-lasting,” Vaux said.
But given the present-day emergence of stand-or-sit workstations, “if you’re standing for long periods of time, it’s a problem.”
If offices have concrete walls and floors, “the acoustics really suffer,” Stephenson added.
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