March/April 2022

CI March-April – Refreshing Spaces that Refresh Ourselves

Everyone wants to look good, feel good, and, quite frankly, there hasn’t been a time in common memory that we’ve needed it more. Now with lockdowns easing and service industries opening again, more and more of us are booking appointments and sliding into chairs for a bit of “me time.”

In this issue of Canadian Interiors we look at a variety of clinics specializing in orthodontic and aesthetic procedures that approach this interesting yet oft-overlooked interior typology with the aim of encouraging inclusivity and empowerment, and use modern design as a tool to champion subjective beauty in fresh and lighthearted ways.

Additionally, we spotlight a new office environment that faced a myriad of challenges, both material and philosophical, in creating a modern workspace in a heritage building in Toronto – a story that mirrors a similar situation in the exact same building that this magazine covered over 30 years ago.

We shine a light (excuse the pun) on eclectic new Lighting collections whose bold characteristics can “invade” a variety of environments in surprisingly enjoyable ways; we profile two female disruptors who are challenging the status quo of the lighting industry itself; and we survey a collection of new chairs that, inspired by the contemporary moment and the evolution in our workplaces, are designed to adapt to how and where we work today, be it our living spaces or office spaces.

Finally, we investigate two examples where the essence of materials is explored in truly surprising ways: one through mimicry and the other through decay.

Editor’s Notes: What Works Best

A total of $1.9 billion in office property sales was reported in the first half of 2021, down 37 per cent year-over-year from the same period in 2020, but according to the Morguard 2022 Canadian Economic Outlook and Market Fundamentals Report, Canada’s commercial real estate sector is poised for recovery and growth in 2022, with most employees expected to return to their physical office space. But what will the future of office spaces look like in 2022? Before we answer that, it is useful to listen at what employees are actually saying and, maybe more importantly, how they are feeling.

The Mental Health Index for January 2022 produced by LifeWorks was -11.3: the largest single month decline of Canadian mental health since October 2020, representing a level not seen in eight months and among the lowest scores during the pandemic. Interestingly, within the survey 55 per cent of working Canadians say that flexible work is most important to them, compared to 24 per cent indicating that career progression is the most important.

The pandemic has forced Canadians to take a good hard look at their priorities. “Many employees are now placing more importance on workplace flexibility — when, where and how they work — rather than career progression, which often includes compensation, promotions and professional development,” says LifeWorks president and CEO, Stephen Liptrap.  But what does “flexibility” actually mean? An abundance of employee sentiment surveys may be revealing how everyone feels, but there are still gaps that separate those feelings from material solutions. “Hybrid collaboration spaces” comes up a lot, but does that mean a smorgasbord of private offices and workspaces with enclosures for visual privacy, reservable collaboration-only workspaces, single-person enclaves outfit with adaptable yet sustainable office furniture, and of course, the all-important informal spaces to connect with colleagues? That is a lot to expect from a space that will only be utilized some of the time.

As more of us return to the office, design will, as always, play a big part in how employers find the necessary means of supporting employees. Designers have always known the high correlation between levels of belonging and productivity in workspaces, but now they will have to find ways to connect with and understand what this evolving workforce values most in an office. After all, there is a growing chorus who say they’d rather work in spaces outfit with surfaces and objects intended for eating and relaxing than work in a space ostensibly intended to help them work better.

Peter Sobchak
Editor in Chief
Canadian Interiors
[email protected]