12/01/2020 • 4 min read

5 Office Design Trends Taking Shape for 2021 and Beyond

How shifting experiences influence design

by Haworth, Inc.

The year 2020 will go down in history as a tumultuous span of time that has influenced both our personal and professional lives. The experiences we watched and endured have—and will continue to—undoubtably impact how we think, work, live, and make decisions.

When we take the time to consider what is happening right now, we must also consider the future. What is the overall impact on our day-to-day life and work? What are the new needs and routines that will come together to influence design, form, and function?

The answer is that we must embrace creativity by taking risks, playing in uncharted territory, and pushing the envelope in 2021. The heightened awareness and growing energy of what is possible influences architects and designers around the world—translating into the work being produced.

 “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


Design in the new year will reflect the changes and related experiences brought to the surface of the human experience in 2020. Corporate environments will continue to evolve to accommodate changing organizational cultures, shifting demographics—and the new and varied workstyles that go along with all those changes. It’s a human-centric approach that keeps people comfortable, engaged, and inspired, while embodying the personality of a company’s brand and culture.

Here are five design trends we’re seeing as we head into 2021.

1.    Raw Earth

Raw earth is a design theme that captures how many of us are feeling during these difficult times. In some ways, we feel unbalanced, insecure, and vulnerable because we have no control over what will happen next. Politics, nature in turmoil, and continued civil unrest have converged in new ways. Future design will reflect the raw and rough edges of this time, as well as solutions that work to soothe, relax, and provide comfort.  

2.    Imaginovation

Many of us have taken advantage of the gifts we have received in the past months, like the ability to think deeper and play harder. We have reprioritized our lives, and what may have seemed so important 10 months ago is deemed irrelevant today. Time to think allows new forms of creativity to converge, for an opportunity to accelerate how and why we use technology, and the ability to make space for explosive innovative concepts and ideas. Future design will be an extension of this theme and show up in playful, vibrant, colorful, and expressive elements.  

3.    Yesteryears

Seasons change and tastes evolve, but what never goes out of style is an appreciation and reverence for classic, timeless design. Form often follows feeling, so when we look back in time, we feel sentimental and long for those places and things that elicit happiness. Because designers have different experiences and reflections, design becomes a mixture of styles with personality from every era.  

4.    Geometrical

When we find a desire to simplify our lives, to clean up the clutter and get more organized, it can be seen in the décor and style of the space we inhabit. Reducing the art of expression into basic forms of colors, lines, shapes, and geometric patterns can create a feeling of structure, and cleanliness. This theme will show up in a variety of ways—from fashion to design with twists, turns, and warped shapes and color to perfect, organic, or grid-like patterns with pure unsaturated color: A modern picture of today’s reality.

5.    Escapism

When we are faced with travel bans, isolation, and physical distancing, emotionally we need to find our happy places—maybe a lakeside retreat or a field of sunshine and wheat. We bring these images and design elements into our minds, homes, and workspaces because they help make us feel calmer, soothed, and more relaxed. For the past several years Zen and spa-like themes have been integrated in all kinds of space designs. Looking ahead, we will likely see more imaginative and innovative concepts, colors, and imagery that will reflect new feelings of health and well-being.

View and share some of our favorite design ideas, palettes, and trends on Pinterest.


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