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2017 university design trends

Laura Light, Concept Designer at Interface, looks at upcoming trends for university spaces

Posted by Hannah Vickers | March 09, 2017 | Facilities

Green is king

Incorporating greenery and natural colour tones has become a growing trend across the design world, marked by Pantone’s Colour of the Year – Greenery. Fresh, leafy or grassy shades and nature-inspired textures are not only on trend, but can form an important element of an education environment that incorporates the principles of biophilic design.

This is a concept derived from our intrinsic love of the natural world, and entails the inclusion of natural or nature-inspired elements in a space with the aim of boosting the physical and emotional health of building occupants and users.

According to the Human Spaces report*, those who work in environments that incorporate natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report a 15% higher level of well-being than those who work in environments devoid of nature.

Such colours and themes can be easily incorporated on a limited budget on university walls and be included as accent shades in flooring schemes as well.

The search for solitude

Flexible learning spaces for students have become the norm for universities; however it is important that education providers continue to cater for students who need somewhere peaceful to work on their own. That’s why we’re beginning to see the creation of mini break-out spaces using pods, or even high-backed sofas and benches – practical furniture additions that can also be eye-catching design features.

Flooring can also be used to further differentiate areas for quiet reflection from those designed for group working. Using subtle changes of flooring texture and shade, rather than using bold colours and abstract shapes, can help make the transition between zones more nuanced.

Expressing brand ethos through design

Increasingly universities are looking for more creative ways of expressing their personalities, and to showcase their inclusive cultures in their interior design schemes to catch the eyes of prospective students. 

When designing a space, the addition of clever flooring schemes is a simple, yet effective, method to help achieve this. For example, in the Water Sciences Department at Cranfield University, biophilic elements have been incorporated into the space to create a welcoming environment where students can relax, interact and study – either independently or in a group.  

Nickel-coloured tiles with a pebbled pattern from Interface’s Human Nature collection have been used in the main breakout zone, alongside kiwi accent tiles, which mimic the tones of grass. These create a beautiful, nature-inspired focal point in the building while differentiating the communal areas from the private spaces – meaning, staff and students can work in peace in meeting rooms, as well as comfortably collaborate with each other in the break-out zones. 


*The Human Spaces Report, 2015, Interface: 

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