A recent article in The Telegraph highlighted the best places to work from home in the UK and in the same week, the latest Land Registry House Price Data reported that home prices increased again in August, with average prices showing an increase of more than £8,900 since the start of Lockdown.
So, what does what this mini-boom in the housing market tell anyone involved with designing interior spaces, and manufacturing furniture. Importantly, and why does it matter?
For kitchen designers, furniture manufacturers, architects, and property developers, understanding the market and keeping an eye on social change is key to creating key differentials, with real design solutions. Right now, a global pandemic is acting as the catalyst for change. How we see and use our homes is changing, and it’s the property market that is indicating where the focus lies. And that – is how to create the best work/life balance, when we may not be able to leave the house.
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
a natural rise in demand
A rise in house prices and increased demand for larger properties may seem out of kilter with such unsettled times, it makes a lot of sense. Summer moves were thwarted by lockdown, creating backlogged sales. Add to this, along with the reduction in stamp duty, presented an unmissable opportunity to relocate or upgrade. And finally, an increase in numbers working from home and a very unclear future saw a natural scramble property that includes room for a dedicated office, in locations that increase the quality of life.
For the many millions that will be staying put, the last few months have shown that we can merge function with aesthetics all we like, but life is no longer just about cooking and socializing.
Let’s face it – we’ve all spent more time at home than we are imagined possible. We’ve conducted business meetings from the kitchen, kept in contact with clients and partners online, and juggled family life in the background. For most of us, our homes have shown areas that would very clearly benefit from a rethink.
Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle
flexible thinking works harder
For homeowners staying put, it’s not just our comfort we need to consider, but the future saleability of the property. With the potential for working home becoming standard practice for many, the demand in the market for office space will undoubtedly include flexible and adaptable design solutions for the smallest of spaces.
Working from home presents its own set of issues, and it’s not just where we put our laptop. Wellbeing will become more than simply feeling good, we need to look at posture, lighting, and the importance of being able to multi-task in spaces that allow us to switch off when we have finished working.
We are at a unique juncture – where investing in our wellbeing, becomes an important investment in our property. And this is where furniture designers, manufacturers of bespoke kitchens, and architects can come into their own.
Kitchens are being used more, and this is likely to increase. We’ve already begun the shift from open-plan to multifunctional living spaces, but with fundamental changes to how we conduct our daily life, this is no longer enough. So, what should furniture manufacturers and makers of bespoke kitchens be considering for the future?
So, what should furniture manufacturers and makers of bespoke kitchens be considering for the future?
Let’s face it, tucking up on the sofa with a laptop may have been appealing for the first few months but long term, it’s detrimental to both health and well-being. For anyone that works from home regularly, having the space to sit properly will become increasingly important. Without the benefit of a dedicated home office, it’s not so easy. For a new WFH generation it’s a problem that is not going away, and lack of space will make this an increasingly big issue.
While property developers will be looking to incorporate office space into new homes, most homeowners will need to adapt their current space. And this is where furniture manufacturers and kitchen designers can step in, with furniture solutions that include fold away, pull out and concealed desk spaces. With creative solutions, even the smallest spaces will benefit from flexible working and dining spaces.
Ergonomical truths – wellbeing for furniture designers and manufacturers
Bad posture, poor working practice, and sitting still for too long, are all detrimental physically and emotionally. For the next generation of furniture designs, well-being is king. For kitchen designers and furniture manufacturers – understanding the implications of this help steer designs that improve experience, and add significant benefits for customers.
There is plenty of advice out there, but we stumbled across this great infographic from ergonomics.org.uk. The concept of ergonomics is not new to kitchen manufacturers, with optimized kitchen layouts introduced as far back as the 1920s. Adding a flexible desk space is an obvious solution, but there are a few things you may not have considered.
Countertop revolution – the latest hot desking is now in the kitchen
- Countertops tend to be higher than the traditional desk space, so it’s important to consider user comfort. Adaptability is key here, so why not include a pull-out footrest either in the cabinet plinth, or incorporated in a bottom drawer, with a removable top?
- Choose the right components, and mechanisms designed to take the weight. Laptops may be light, but we all lean on our desks and the last thing we want, is desktop wobble. Furthermore, in the family home, the demand for robustness will be significant. The best large desk or table mechanisms are designed to comfortably take weight up to 80KG, providing ingenious space-saving solutions without compromising functionality and quality.
- If installing a smaller slide out solution that doubles as both desktop and additional countertop space, be sure to allow enough room for legs to be tucked underneath. This makes maintaining a good posture much easier, creating a more comfortable experience.
- Standing desks are increasing in popularity and for good reason. Simply standing up is one of the easiest ways to alleviate the pain associated with sitting for prolonged periods. However, when deadlines are looming, it can be tricky to step away from the desk, so a pull-out worktop at a higher is a forward-thinking solution that allows for alternating between sitting and standing desk spaces.
Pure genius – Air filters and purifiers are a breath of fresh air for furniture makers
A study in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2016 directly quantified the impact of indoor environmental quality and on cognitive function. And this, before we hit a global pandemic forcing us all to consider the real benefits of creating health airflow in the home.
At the simplest level, nature and fresh air makes you feel better. With increased time indoors and less time outside, furniture manufacturers now have the opportunity to think outside the box, to improve the quality of our interiors.
Right now, the numbers for people searching for air purifiers may have increased, but for the design-savvy homeowner, the options are limited.
This presents an ideal opportunity for furniture manufacturers to offer bespoke solutions, incorporating air purification and nature directly into furniture. Many plants naturally purifying the air and it’s widely recognised that introducing the outside world to indoor living spaces, is good for mental health. Adding smart tech to maximise air filtration and controllability is an exciting step forward for interior design.
Why Furniture manufacturers should re-charge designs to connect with customers
We all need to keep charged and let’s face it – most of us spend too much time looking for the missing charger cable. Frankly, it’s a bit old school. And with the focus now on future trends, integrated tech solutions will certainly be high on the must-have lists. The latest furniture solutions should be fit for modern life, so including charging solutions reflects the very real needs of everyday life. And it pretty easy to do.
- For home office desks – an integrated wireless charging system is ideal for smartphones and tablets. With contemporary kitchens designed to create a calm environment, the latest charging solutions feature a discrete signal icon on the worktop, making it ideal for clutter-free living.
- Integrated covered pockets that include socket and USB ports, are perfect for keeping cables just below the worksurface whilst in use. Once finished with, a pop down cover returns the work top to clean lines. These are the accessories that show consumers that you understand their needs.
- Larger technology pockets will become the modern-day kitchen drawer, the perfect place to drop keys, wallet, and sunglasses. The real benefit, of course, USB ports to charge your smartphone. This way, when you leave home, you can be certain that your mobile is fully charged.
We are now conducting our lives in a way that we could never have predicted, so change is coming. Here’s the thing – trends come and go, so the focus right now is how we are using our interiors. For furniture manufacturers and kitchen designers, it’s an exciting time. Whilst rethinking our interiors will present challenges – social change is fertile ground for designers that want to shine.
Let’s remember – Every problem is simply the opportunity to create a solution.