Clutter Be Gone: Minimalist Office Designs

Posted: February 7, 2013   /   by

One of the interesting features I often notice in office design is just how reactionary it is. As with fashion, architecture and other design categories, new trends arise out of the ashes of other, older trends. With the set of offices selected today, we get to see a more simplistic design aesthetic than that of many other contemporary designs we’ve seen: minimalism.

Minimalism? What is it and why?

Minimalism refers to the idea of using the least number of design elements while still achieving maximum effect. In office design this movement is seen often in the reduction of the number of colors used in a design. Or perhaps rather than having many different shapes and curves, the design uses more straight lines, all the while being used to make an office environment that is useful.

Clean desk policies

Some might find them absurd, but many offices have what are known as clean desk policies to help remind employees to keep their desks free of clutter. While not strictly for minimalism in and of itself, having clean desk policies signals that there can be improvements to the workplace through the use of a cleaner, minimal environment.

The reasons for such policies include:

  • reductions in workplace stress
  • reduction in workplace accidents
  • improved customer image
  • improved company security

Improved productivity

While it is great to think about minimalism as a design ideal, it does seem that being clean and orderly does have its workplace benefits. According to a 2010 article in Inc Magazine, it seems like everyone not only deals with office clutter, it hurts their productivity:

“Out of more than 1,000 office workers surveyed in December, 82 percent said they feel being organized improves their performance, yet 32 percent admitted to keeping a disorganized workspace and 42 percent said they clean up clutter only once a month or less…

According to the survey, clutter such as bestrewn papers, food containers, and even spare shoes can lead to many unprofessional situations, with a large number of respondents reporting lost time (47 percent), meeting tardiness (16 percent), and missed deadlines (14 percent) as a result of their behavior.”

Beauty with less

Many published photos of offices that have yet to be moved into leave readers feeling like they are too sterile and cold. I disagree.

Because the nature of such photos are generally architectural, the goal of the images is to show the intent of the architect. In the case of office designs – especially minimalist ones – it is important to see what the architect did to achieve their stated goals. Sparsely cluttered, peopleless photos capture that intent and show off the beauty of design.