A trend, according to the Oxford dictionary, is a general direction in which something is developing or changing, a fashion, or a topic. Trending, of course, is now synonymous with hashtags and social media. In the world of interior design we have all types of design trends but just because something is on trend doesn’t necessarily mean its fit for a purpose, a culture or working style. As experts in designing interiors for public spaces, we have to apply certain rules and standards and marry that with an on trend look and feel.
When it comes to designing academic spaces it is important to place students at the centre of the interior. We have to make sure that we keep our thoughts firmly planted in designing and furnishing student centric spaces, that answer how they work and how the design can support and improve their College and University experience.
Our role as library design consultants is also to provide value for money alongside great library design. We can do that by keeping firmly fixed on the student and keeping up to date and observing how students like to work and study at the same time as creating visually appealing spaces.
Of course, we rely on the knowledge and expertise of our excellent suppliers to develop new products and furnishings that are bang on trend as well as meeting important quality and standards controls. Fit for purpose furnishings are very important and with many libraries and learning centres open 24/7 hard wearing, long lasting furnishings are crucial to withstand the high levels of usage.
When thinking about how students work we like to think in terms of ‘together:alone. They want to have privacy but also be part of a wider space. For University styles spaces open plan is now broken plan, with large empty spaces broken up with different levels, zones and rooms. Linking tasks to physical areas becomes is an important part of the interior design. Within that furnishings such as learning booths, pods and semi private styled furnishings are popular and allow students to concentrate but still staying visually connected to their surroundings.
University libraries will often hold a large amount of book stock so library shelving will be a big part of the library design. With careful and creative space planning we can design the shelving to create zones, breakout spaces and even areas for students to access student facing services such as information, registration and also social and collaboration spaces, quiet working spaces or even tea points!
Trends are important but we must retain a focus on the user experience so that style and substance sit comfortably together.