Posts tagged interiordesign
10 Hottest Design Trends from NeoCon 2019
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NeoCon provides a great glimpse into the design trends of 2019.

If you were there you may have noticed some prominent emerging trends that were visible throughout the show. If you couldn’t make it, here are some of the trends we think will be huge this year!

no.1 - now you see us, now you don’t


In response to issues of privacy and focus from the open concept workplace, product designers have heard our complaints and are introducing drapery into the workplace.

Easy to open and close, cheaper than glass and flexible, drapery is a perfect enhancement of the ‘breakout space’.

Taking it a step further, companies are using both light and permeable drapes as well as sound absorbing materials to give that extra privacy.

no.2 - it ‘felt’ quieter


Again in response to privacy and the inability to focus, there has been a big increase in sound absorbing materials. We noticed this material on wall panels, screens and even light shades.

The most popular material is a felt like product made from recycled plastic water bottles.

Companies include: buzzispace, de vorm, Luxx box, Zintra

no.3 - think inside the box


Finally, on the theme of privacy and focus, there has been a huge push in the realm of the personal phonebooth. Framery made a big statement with a feature booth on the ground floor and a large footprint on the 7th floor. Great for videoconferencing!

Companies to look out for: ROOM, jabbrrbox, Snapcab, Narbutas, Silenspace, The Loop (Canadian)

no. 4 - red hot!


Millennial pink has matured into an ombre of reds and pinks. Rather than contrasting colours, we saw a lot of examples of a single colour that was applied with many tones. When there was a contrast, it was mostly tones of green.

 no. 5 - going green


Greens were everywhere! Likely influenced by biophilic design, companies have introduced multiple tones of greens throughout their collections.

no. 6 - the europeans!


It’s no surprise that Europe produces an exceptionally high quality level of design. Some of the notable companies are (top left, clockwise):

De Vorm (Netherlands) - A really innovative company that produces furniture from the recycled water bottle materials.

Buzzispace (Belgium) - Also focused around acoustics and privacy, they have a series of flexible products that can be screened using acoustical drapery.

Cascando (Netherlands) - their slogan is complementing spaces. Cascando creates complimentary furniture such as whiteboards, privacy screens and coat hangers.

NaughtOne (UK) - A really high level of design, now under the Herman Miller brand.

no. 7 - office or meeting room?


Offices are no longer ‘exclusive’ and are being designed with meeting areas that can be used by other staff when the Exec’ is not there. In order not to sacrifice valuable square footage, height adjustable desks were positioned against the wall. Geiger One was a great example of this, where the worktop can double as a meeting desk.

no.8 - bar height meetings


We expect other companies to take note of NaughtOne’s high booth. A really cozy and casual way to meet. The owner described it as a solution for activating circulation spaces.

no.9 - power to the people!


Steelcase killed it with their new flex mobile power stations, that can charge three laptops all day on a single charge. The new Microsoft hub can also last for 100 minutes on a single charge and can move around the office on an easel.

Knoll also came out with the new antenna bench, which sits on casters and can bring power to three stations from a single outlet. This technology will have a big impact on how we design space, allowing designers to be much more flexible and not have to always rely on the existing architecture.

no.10 - skinny legs!


Probably the sleekest height adjustable on the market, the Cloud9 table by Watson is beautifully designed. Two flush buttons lift and drop the desk and it’s legs are probably thinner than my non height adjustable desk. Truly pioneering design.

Follow @sdi_designinc to stay up to date with the latest trends!!

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Noam is the creative director of SDI Design.

Educated and trained as an Architect in London, England. Noam has also worked in London, New York and Toronto for well renowned Architecture practices such as Foster + Partners and Richard Meier. 

As a designer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Noam  founded a coworking space in North York which was recognised in Forbes, Blog TO and Toronto Life. In 2017 Noam was nominated by the City of Vaughan as a candidate for 40 under 40 in Canada for 2017.  

Noam regularly gives talks on office design and has had articles on the subject published. | Instagram | Linkedin

How The Workplace Can Help Combat SAD
wellness in the workplace

Spring is here and with it brings rainy days, flowers, and most importantly, sunshine! With Toronto breaking records this past winter for cloudy days[1], people are eager to get out and enjoy the nicer weather. However, with almost 50% of the population of Ontario working full time[2] it might be a bit difficult to recover from the cloudy winter without access to daylight, and for many Canadians this can negatively impact mental health. Studies have shown that workers in windowless environments report poorer performance, overall sleep problems, as well as physical and vitality problems[3].


Nearly one in eight adults in Canada identify with symptoms that match mood disorders[4], and about 10% of those cases are a result of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)[5]. SAD is a type of recurring depression that usually occurs during the same season each year, typically in the fall and winter[6]. The symptoms typically include months long depressive mood, increased appetite and weight[7]. People living in northern climates are more susceptible, with women being four times more likely than men to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder[8]. As Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression,  people who suffer from it can seek help through therapy, as well as use light therapy.


So how can workplaces help? Mainly, by providing workers with access to natural light. Many offices have been adopting open floor plans to maximize daylight. This is beneficial for employee mental wellness and is recommended by multiple certifications such as LEED and WELL. Workers with access to natural light are shown to outperform workers with access to only artificial light[9]. Unfortunately, not all layouts can provide access to natural light for everyone, but with advancing technologies workplaces can explore implementing a lighting system to simulate our natural circadian rhythm. This can help reduce the side effects such as weight gain, impulsivity, and slower thinking[10]. Workplaces can also outfit their wellness rooms, workstations, and common rooms with light therapy lamps. These lamps are designed to simulate daylight without harmful UV rays.


With the seasons changing for the brighter, people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder may start to see relief from their symptoms. However, since SAD is a recurring form of depression workplaces and business owners can do their part to improve the mental health of their employees. By introducing architectural changes such as maximizing window access or changing lighting systems, or simple additions such as therapy lamps for employees, workplaces can transform from mentally stagnant environments to nurturing workplaces that show care for their mental and physical well-being.



  • Bartha, Christina, Carol Parker, Cathy Thomson, and Kate Kitchen. 2013. Depression- An information guide. Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication.

  • Boubekri, Mohamed, Ivy N. Cheung, Kathryn J. Reid, Chia-Hui Wang, and Phyllis C. Zee. 2014 . "Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study." Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

  • Canada, Government of. 2016. What is Depression? 12 30. Accessed May 13, 2019.

  • CMHA. 2013. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Accessed May 13, 2019.

  • 2009. "Society for Neuroscience." ScienceDaily. 10 09. Accessed May 13, 2019.

  • Soderholm, Brett. 2018. Major city sets startling record for a sun-starved November. November 30.

  • Statistics Canada. 2017. Labour in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census. 11 29.

  • [1] (Soderholm 2018)

  • [2] (Statistics Canada 2017)

  • [3] (Boubekri, et al. 2014 )

  • [4] (Canada 2016)

  • [5] (CMHA 2013)

  • [6] (Bartha, et al. 2013)

  • [7] (Bartha, et al. 2013)

  • [8] (Bartha, et al. 2013)

  • [9](Boubekri, et al. 2014 )

  • [10] (Society for Neuroscience 2009)

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Meaghan is part of the design team at SDI design. .

Through her her passion in organisation and standardization Meaghan has earned the role of CAD standards manager and is responsible for assessing new technology that the company onboards.

Her extreme eye for detail support the constant development and reinvention of SDI’s innovative design concepts and strategic project approaches. | Linkedin

The Essential Guide To: Activity Based Working
Activity based work

The best way to think of activity-based working is in providing your employee the choice in where, when and how they work. We see it as an opportunity to boost employee productivity and innovation. Activity-based working recognizes that people perform better in differing environments. Therefore, removing physical work constraints, such as a desk and an office, provides greater flexibility for the employee.

This concept flies in the face of workspace concepts of the 1980s and earlier, where employees were expected to remain at their desks from 9-5, Monday through Friday. As an employee, your physical environment defined your company status. The technological revolution has gone a long way in redefining the workplace and blurred the boundaries. One's office can now extend from home, in cafes, on planes, trains, and cars – wherever you are on the move.

This ultimately results in the workspace needs of employees being greatly expanded; since everyone won't be in the building at the same time. Individual employees may work mornings, while others may dip in to refuel, socialize, relax or even exercise. For your staff to thrive, your workspace needs to reflect these changing dynamics.

 This post should be used as guide in your process in engineering a workspace that reflects the changing needs of your team, and caters to the individual needs and provides environments to boost employees’ morale, motivation, and productivity.

Planning the Re-design

Once the decision has been made to embrace activity-based working, a huge culture change will be taking place. Putting together a brief for staff and a subsequent action plan is key to proper execution. Our team can help you with this deployment plan.

 Whether you're changing locations or staying put, what is your reason for the change?  Are there workflow issues, personal objectives, a need to better reflect your culture and vision or a desire to refresh your surroundings, work smarter, retain your best people and attract new talent?

 Regardless of your reasons, you need to be able to convey them to staff and get them on board sooner than later. Once you get your team in the loop, they can advise areas for improvement and feel more empowered and receptive to change.  

Some Tips on Creating Your Brief

With your team in place, it's time to start thinking about your new activity-based workspace brief and understand how to divide up the space. This chart summarizes some of the most common activities that make up a cohesive workplace.


The workplace needs to have a variety of space conducive to these activities. Many can be used for more than one, but some, for example ‘focus’ requires somewhere quiet and not distracting.

Consider the visitor experience and how it will impact your team. How can you maximize the utility of your space?

For example, when creating a brainstorming space for your team, ask yourself if the space is designed to facilitate collaboration and the creative energy required for a successful brainstorming session.

Setting the correct environment, specific to the needs and desired output of the space, will ensure that you are creating a comfortable workplace for your team that maximizes their outcome.

(All photographs are of SDI Design projects)

Setting Employee Expectations

Integrating an activity-based work can bring challenges as well as benefits. It has the advantage of optimizing the performance of your team. However, you need to identify rules to be followed.

These expectations can include quiet zones, scheduling conference rooms, a clear desk policy, specified eating areas, and co-working spaces. Maps detailing the available facilities and resources are also useful.

To embrace activity-based working to its fullest extent, it's imperative to trust your workforce, give them choice and flexibility. Empower them to organize their work in a productive way which delivers results. If your workspace recognizes the differing personalities, needs and comfort zones of your workforce, you will have environments all will be happy to work and relax in.

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Noam is the creative director of SDI Design.

Educated and trained as an Architect in London, England. Noam has also worked in London, New York and Toronto for well renowned Architecture practices such as Foster + Partners and Richard Meier. 

As a designer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Noam  founded a coworking space in North York which was recognised in Forbes, Blog TO and Toronto Life. in 2017 Noam was nominated by the City of Vaughan as a candidate for 40 under 40 in Canada for 2017.  

Noam regularly gives talks on office design and has had articles on the subject published. | Instagram | Linkedin

6 Design Features to Improve Workplace Wellness
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The office should be an enjoyable workspace for you and your employees. It is the de-facto home away from home for most of us. You spend ample amounts of time ensuring every detail of your home is idealized right? So why not your workspace?

 We've seen a gradual change in people's attitudes towards workplace design and the investment they're willing to put into improving it. No longer are we satisfied with the endless facade of fluorescent lights and cubicles. Gone are the utilitarian and drab acoustical tile ceilings and plain interiors.

 There is a new, better workspace being created. An environment designed to be holistic and people friendly. You want to keep up with the times, but remodeling and updating your office with every changing trend is cost prohibitive and inefficient.  Therefore you need to invest in something timeless. Perhaps you should consider these six workplace design trends that will improve not only your life, but the lives of your team members.

As wellbeing continues to be a huge trend in workplace design, care should be taken to embrace a work environment that fosters mindfulness among the staff. This can be accomplished by providing good air quality, good drinking water, plentiful natural light, and a variety of quiet spaces.

Utilizing these spaces is also essential and companies are beginning to offer wellness and meditation programs, exercise facilities, healthcare services and importantly, opportunities for social engagement. In a digital-centric environment, it's important to provide an opportunity to decompress psychologically.

Meeting room at SDI’s Studio

Meeting room at SDI’s Studio


 One of the biggest trends of workplace design as of late has been what is known as biophilic design. The concept of biophilic design is the ideation of indoor spaces as natural-feeling, holistic environments. This aesthetic is accomplished by including natural elements in the design, such as living walls and natural materials like stone and wood.

 Soft, natural lighting is also essential so toss out those fluorescents in the trash and go LED! We discuss several concepts for green spaces in a prior blog post. The benefit of integrating biophilic design into your workspace include improved productivity, reduced stress, and improved creative thinking.

Novo Nordisk Cafeteria

Novo Nordisk Cafeteria


For years now workspace trends have been moving towards open and flexible environments. However, consideration also needs to be made for providing quiet, private spaces.

The heyday of the open workspace may be coming to a close and the day of the cubicle has no hope of coming back either. It ultimately depends on the dynamic of your team. Joanne Chan of SDI explains “people are intrinsically different, some argue that they require silence to be productive, while others succeed in being surrounded by their colleagues, stimulated by their energy.”

What we suggest is a hybrid model, where private working spaces are prioritized, and communal working spaces are made available. Adjust the ratio of each space as you see fit for the overall productivity of your team.  


Yes. Lighting has been mentioned in term of biophilic design standards, but we'd like to get a bit more specific. When it comes to workplace lighting, there is a direct correlation to absenteeism in office environments (as in a 15% adverse effect.) That's a huge productivity issue!

 Providing sufficient daylight and windows, along with opportunities for nature to office variability have been proven to have a positive impact on people’s well-being.

Acoustical Ceiling Tiles

Acoustical Ceiling Tiles


 In line with appropriately managing open space. Providing an environment with the appropriate acoustical elements is somewhat new in the workspace design acumen, but an idea that will be around for some time.

 Take time to plan and design your office to contribute to performance and well-being in the workplace. In acoustical terms, that means accommodating individuals that seek out quiet places. While also enabling team members the opportunity to spontaneous interactions without disturbing others.



 The co-mingling of wellness culture with sustainable design results in eco-friendly offices.  This all-encompassing design element is as much ethos as it is logos. It entails everything from running a good recycling program, sourcing furniture, and office supplies responsibly and making sure to reduce waste wherever possible.

Embracing a sustainable design will keep your employees happy; which will, in turn, increase productivity, improve client interactions and add your overall bottom line.



 The time and effort you put into designing your employees workspace is essential for their satisfaction and your bottom line. Why not invest in upgrading your office by integrating any of these six trends that will improve and promote wellness.

 Remember: The focus has shifted from the drudgery cubicles to that of an integrated holistic workspace. A place where you and your team want to be every day. Create a space where people want to work.

All photographs are of SDI Design projects

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Noam is the creative director of SDI Design.

Educated and trained as an Architect in London, England. Noam has also worked in London, New York and Toronto for well renowned Architecture practices such as Foster + Partners and Richard Meier. 

As a designer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Noam  founded a coworking space in North York which was recognised in Forbes, Blog TO and Toronto Life. in 2017 Noam was nominated by the City of Vaughan as a candidate for 40 under 40 in Canada for 2017.  

Noam regularly gives talks on office design and has had articles on the subject published. | Instagram | Linkedin

How My Smartphone Made Me a 'Brighter' Designer.

I recently discovered one of my favorite toys; a really simple app that measures light levels!  How exciting, right!? Okay, okay, so it probably won’t break the internet with millions of downloads, but I have found it to be one of the most enlightening (pun intended) tools I have on my phone.

As an interior designer, I am currently involved in two projects with clients who have been sensitive to lighting levels within their space. In one case the functional focal point of the space, a very large digital display screen, was critically sensitive to lighting levels. The other case was merely an informed client who was concerned with computer screen fatigue among his staff and wanted a lighting solution that was both appropriate in level as well as adjustable to individual needs.

light-level standards chart

light-level standards chart

We designers are trained to know what light levels are appropriate for different uses - check out the chart above (click here for a larger version) for the standards. Furthermore, our experience gives us the ability to create effective moods - low light to create intimacy; bright light for vibrancy; high contrast for drama, etc. – but when challenged to provide empirical evidence, I only had the accepted standards to rely on.  That’s when I was inspired to find a new tool…to the internet!

Now, a light meter is not a new invention. My father gave me his, built circa 1950, that looks like a prop from a Tim Burton movie, but it’s buried in the bottom of a box somewhere, disregarded as being cumbersome. Having one on your phone, on the other hand, and turning it on wherever you go will open your eyes to the varied conditions of our lit world. There are a bunch of apps, but the one use on my Android phone is called Light Meter by Trajkovski Labs. There are many others but what attracted me to this one is the added bonus that it measures colour temperature as well!


My random testing of light conditions and environments has been a journey of discovery. One of the most surprising things I’ve found is the wide range of conditions within which my eyes are able to function.  I’ve noticed that I’m just as comfortable navigating obstacles on a bright sunny afternoon as I am at night when the app measures no appreciable light – navigate, sure, but don’t ask me to read a menu in a steak house!  I’ve also discovered that most of our lighting designs are, in fact, over designed and I can see that as a result of this growing body of empirical data that I will become a more responsible and efficient designer.

I embarked on a mission to find a tool to help me provide an accurate and informed solution and I wound up finding an app that has been truly enlightening.  Check out one of these apps, you’ll see that it’s fun!  Okay, maybe only “designer-nerd” fun…”

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Brian Schindler, B.E.S., M. Arch., NCIDQ

With a Master of Architecture degree and 30+ years of experience in architecture and interior design, Brian brings a unique perspective to projects in any capacity.  He was an owner/principal of an award winning commercial interior design firm for 21 years.  He has contributed to the shaping of the interior design industry as a member of both the executive board of ARIDO and its committees. | Linkedin