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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way we live and work, and this is especially true for commercial interior design in Singapore. As businesses look to adapt to the “new normal,” many are turning to interior designers to focus and help create safe and functional spaces that comply with government guidelines and promote employee well-being.

One of the biggest changes we are seeing in commercial interior design in Singapore is the incorporation of more flexible and adaptable spaces, which we call an agile workplace. The widespread use of remote work has highlighted the need for businesses to have spaces that can be easily reconfigured to accommodate a variety of different activities and needs. This might include incorporating more modular furniture, open floor plans, acoustic pods, adjustable lighting, and operable walls.

Another trend that is becoming increasingly popular in commercial interior design in Singapore is the incorporation of biophilic design elements. Biophilic design is an approach to design that emphasizes the connection between people and nature. This can include the use of natural materials, incorporating plants and greenery, and designing spaces that take into account natural light and ventilation. By creating a more natural and healthy environment, biophilic design can help to reduce stress, improve employee well-being, and increase productivity.

In addition to these trends, many businesses in Singapore are also looking to incorporate technologies such as automated ventilation systems and air purification systems to help improve indoor air quality and reduce the spread of airborne disease. Other technologies, such as touchless doors and faucets and automated lighting systems, are also becoming more popular in commercial interior design as a way to promote hygiene and safety.

With more companies allowing employees to work from home, some businesses are choosing to downsize their physical office spaces. This means that commercial interior designers need to be able to work within smaller spaces and create efficient and functional designs. This could include the use of multi-purpose furniture, creative storage like smart locker solutions, and the incorporation of technology to maximize the use of space.

Another important aspect to consider is the use of materials and finishes. In the post-pandemic era, designers may opt for easy-to-clean and durable materials that can withstand increased cleaning and sanitization protocols. This could include materials like laminate, sealed concrete, and metal. Additionally, designers may choose to avoid porous materials that can harbor germs and bacteria.

With social distancing still being a concern, designers are turning to create an open layout with improved visibility and transparency that support physical distancing. This could include incorporating more natural light and open spaces to create a sense of spaciousness and incorporating more transparency in partitions, walls, and other elements of the interior design.

Creating a sense of normalcy is also important in post-pandemic commercial design, as employees and customers may be experiencing stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Incorporating elements of nature, color, plants, and art can be a way to help create a calm and welcoming atmosphere.

JPE Pilande

Digital integration is also becoming a crucial aspect of commercial interior design. With more companies adopting hybrid work models, businesses are looking to incorporate technology such as table booking, hotdesking, videoconferencing, and virtual collaboration tools into their spaces. This could include incorporating dedicated workspaces for remote workers and designing spaces that support seamless collaboration and communication between in-person and remote workers.

Finally, it’s important to note that commercial interior design in Singapore after the pandemic, will also have to take into account the government guidelines and regulations regarding physical distancing and capacity limitations. These will likely include increased spacing between workspaces, the incorporation of barriers and dividers, and the use of floor markings to indicate traffic flow.

Overall, commercial interior design in Singapore is evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses and employees in the wake of the pandemic. The incorporation of flexible, adaptable spaces, biophilic design elements, and technologies to promote health and safety are just a few of the ways that interior designers are helping businesses to create safe and functional spaces that support employee well-being and productivity.

By: James Paul Pilande, Singapore Accredited Interior Designer (ID-1) former Editorial Committee Co-chair for the Society of Interior Designers Singapore 

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