The latest trends in offices are all about the element of surprise. That’s my hot take, anyway. This can take any number of forms, which makes sense – if there was a set formula, the surprise wouldn’t really be there, would it? The unifying factor that makes it discernible as a trend is, surprisingly enough, subtlety. 

How so, you ask? Well, I think we’re getting to the point of having seen enough loud, full-on office design statements that we’re ready for a more sophisticated take on the theme. This, I believe, is beginning to be recognised by office design firms. Melbourne has always had an eye for subtlety, in my opinion, so this city could end up leading the charge. Or the mysterious saunter, as it were. 

See, it’s all about being led down a path you weren’t expecting, whether that’s in terms of literal navigation around a building, or conceptually, or both. It might be something that activates only in certain circumstances, and so becomes apparent over time. I predict that such features will become increasingly commonplace in fitouts for offices Melbourne wide.

For example, maybe there’s some element of a space that responds in unpredictable but pleasing ways, like a smart lighting system time that changes colour when a certain type of word combination is spoken. Or an ambient sound plays from an unexpected source when a particular movement quality is detected – like those garden gnomes with motion sensors that chuckle at you when you walk past, except it’s a mid-century style floor lamp that makes a Mario coin sound if you do a high-five within a 1 metre radius of it. 

It could also be something visual, like a barely perceptible series of arrows on the floor which, if followed, lead you to something – some kind of experiential installation, like a small, dark room with a bean bag and Brian Eno’s Music for Airports playing through a surround sound system. Oh, and the room is programmed to switch suddenly to strobe lights and terrible club pop music if you stay in there longer than 20 minutes.