Office Design

5 Timeless Design Principles for Every Workplace to Consider

David Spence
March 1st, 2016

As an office manager, workplace design and layout are a big part of your job. You not only have to create a beautiful office space, but you have to organize it in such a way that it increases worker satisfaction and productivity. And that’s not an easy thing to balance!



If you don’t want to have to redesign your workplace every few years, it’s important to come up with a plan that’s timeless. Now, this isn’t just some buzzword — it refers to enduring trends that can be applied across all disciplines to optimize whatever it is you’re working on. The famous German industrial designer Dieter Rams was a big proponent of simple, classic elements and his vision can be applied to any project, whether it’s the latest iPhone or your next workplace design and layout. Here are some of the elements he prioritizes in his own designs.

1. Timeless design is useful

Create A Useful Office

Whenever you’re designing something, you need to think about how it’s going to be used. Your office layout, like a product, is serving a specific function. With that in mind, how can you design your office space to better serve that function?

Every piece of furniture in your office needs to have a purpose, even if that purpose is simply relaxation or social interaction. Do away with any details that don’t contribute to the overall goal. For instance, if you value efficiency and productivity, but your office is filled with unused furniture and other office clutter, then maybe it’s time to pare down to the essentials.

2. Timeless design is innovative

Innovation speaks directly to progress. Without innovation nothing moves forward. And let’s face it, we all get bored of the same thing, day in and day out. Your role as an facility manager should be to create an innovative workplace setting that will attract creative workers and the leaders of the next generation. But, what exactly does that mean?

Innovative office design means understanding the current office trends and taking them one step further. For instance, open offices are all the rage, but what about offering flexible office spaces with movable walls that can either be open or closed? This takes a current trend and pushes it one step further, making you an industry thought leader rather than a follower.

3. Timeless design is careful and detailed

Detailed Office Design

Perfection and excellence are two words that come to mind when we think of timeless. Even though designing the perfect office is likely an unattainable goal, it’s not impossible to show care through attention to detail.

For instance, a great office culture can be enforced through tiny little details, like customizing your office chairs with your logo or hanging custom-designed motivational posters on the walls.


Thorough design also means prioritizing quality over quantity. Even though you can save a couple hundred dollars through purchasing low-quality pens for your workers, think about how any frustrations over faulty equipment might trickle down into the quality of work your employees produce.

4. Timeless design is sustainable

Sustainable is synonymous with timeless. While you want to remain innovative, think about the overall design of your office: Are you simply adding elements to capitalize on timely trends or can your current setup be used for decades? Will you have to replace all the junk you’re buying or are you strategically choosing elements so that your company isn’t contributing to wasteful practices?

Of course, the day-to-day technology we use to get our jobs done will shift, but things like solid wood desks, high-quality chairs and large office windows will never go out of style. When choosing new items for your office ask yourself this: Is the item high-quality and will it be a focal point of the office? Or will it need to be replaced in a couple of months once the next hot product becomes available? If what you’re considering falls into the latter category, it might be a sign to rethink that choice.

5. Timeless design is honest

Simple Office Design Lamps

So often we’re surrounded by products and services that promise us the world, but usually fail to deliver. Great design only promises what it can do well and accomplish.

When you’re designing your office, this principle can come to life in many different ways. For instance, when you make promises to your employees about certain office amenities or office features, make sure you can actually follow-through. If you promise to create an innovative office with flexible work areas and a games room, then actually do it! If this isn’t in your budget, come up with a more cost-effective solution like offering employees the flexibility to work from home on certain days of the month.

Consistent, timeless principles extend into every aspect of your business, including workplace design. When creating an office culture through your furniture, layout and amenities, make sure you’re basing your decisions on the timeless principles highlighted above. By doing so, you’ll ensure your space inspires productivity and happiness in your workers for years to come.

Photos: sukiyaki / Shutterstock, Breather, Jeffrey Betts, Leeroy