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Interior design industry sees return to elegance. (Insiders Outlook).

The interior design industry has historically mirrored the rest of the economy and society at large. While the close of the 20th century saw Wall Street and dot-com excesses dominate our cultural and business landscapes, the new realities of our time include the stock market correction, a slower economy, the dot-com bubble burst, and the Sept. 11 tragedy. These events have now impacted the interior design profession in a profound manner. Today, we are seeing a return to simpler and more sophisticated design, away from the flashy and trendy styles of the late 1990s. The latest hot colors, materials, and forms continue to belong primarily to businesses that have not survived the dot-com downturn or are currently in the process of reinventing themselves for their continual survival.

At Rothe Johnson Fantacone, we see lasting design trends as those, which project quiet confidence and permanence. One way this to achieve that effect is by using wood in the public lobby and common area spaces. Wood veneers such as quarter fiddleback anegre, sycamore, makore, and brazilian lacewood have recently replaced walnut, cherry, and mahogany of earlier periods. These woods are being used at reception and security desks, lobby walls, and in elevator cabs.

Another current design trend is the use of metals in interior spaces. Metal components are being used in more areas then the traditional stair and balcony railing locations. Polished and brushed brass, bronze, stainless steel, and aluminum are being used as inlay within woodwork panels and tables, decorative supports at reception desks, and to create decorative ceiling grilles/screens.

The use of multiple colors of stone in interior lobbies and public restrooms is also a significant new design trend. Flamed and honed granite in several colors is covering many lobby floors and walls. Granite has also made its way into many restrooms within class "A" buildings, being used on lavatory countertops, floors, and walls. In class "B" buildings large-size porcelain tiles for floors and walls have replaced the traditional twoinch and four-inch square ceramic tiles. Solid surfacing materials (corian, surrell, etc.) have also replaced plastic laminate for the lavatory countertop.

The current trend in the use of color in interior design is to use rich, saturated colors, like cranberry red, eggplant blue, or canary yellow. White and beige with a touch of warm gray are also very popular. These colors and others are being used for wall coverings, fabrics, laminates, and paints. The overall effect is rooms and spaces with more defined and contrasting surfaces than in previous periods.

As for trends in office planning, lowered workstation panel heights, middle managers in workstations, and smaller private offices for executives are here to stay. The ability to house more employees in less floor space than before is too great an incentive for efficiency and cost conscious corporations. The jury is still out on the utility and feasibility of Cyber cafes and Huddle Rooms, although the feeling is that anything that brings employees together in different social settings must contribute positively to the overall health of the company. Telephone and data trends continue with Cat 5 wire as the standard and e-mail/Internet service being delivered through high-speed DSL type cable connections.

Due to the Sept. 11 tragedy, building security will undoubtedly receive more focused attention. Buildings and facilities with security stations at the entrance lobby and secured parking areas will now be particularly attractive to tenants. In addition, within occupied areas of a building, card key access will be expanded to cover additional openings previously controlled by a less secure key or multi-button combination lock. Prior to Sept. 11 this was a good idea for those companies needing a higher level of security. Now this may also be appropriate for a wider range of companies. Video cameras, which were already being used in many building, will now be everywhere - not only at the key entry and exit points of a building or facility.

With the economy expected to remain sluggish for the foreseeable future and continual uncertainty caused by terrorist activities, expect the conservative, understated elegant approach to remain the dominant trend in interior design.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Sentschak, Jake
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 26, 2001
Previous Article:New firm, Soffes Wood Architecture & Interiors, formed. (Technology Update).
Next Article:New Jersey market still strong. (Insiders Outlook).

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