“It all depends on what the client needs, but there is a push to utilize
more smart products in hospitality spaces,” she said. “It is usually the
client who states their desire for smart products to be incorporated into
the design of a space. If this is the case, then we design with those
things in mind, making sure to integrate them seamlessly into our vision
for the space.”
In the hospitality industry, smart products are used to enhance a
guest’s experience in a space and likely sound more familiar to consumers.
Headley notes that clients are asking for touchscreen thermostat systems,
integrated surround sound systems, and smart TVs that all connect to a
“This generation is used to smart devices and apps that assist in daily
tasks, so it is reasonable to assume that this will dictate an expectation
for the use of smart products in interior design as well,” said Headley.
“Designers should constantly think of ways that smart technology will be
useful to users, and look to trends outside of our specific industries to
anticipate what we should incorporate into our designs.”
In order for a product to be considered smart, Doug Shapiro, Industry
IIDA, director of workplace and A+D for OFS Brands, and member of
the IIDA International Board of Directors, said it should recognize some
kind of human activity or environmental condition and respond to it.
“If a space can respond to certain activities—for example, occupancy
sensors that turn the lights on or off when someone enters or leaves a
room—there’s a real return on investment in terms of energy efficiency,
which makes it more meaningful to clients,” said Shapiro. “We’re looking for
that kind of compelling value in smart products for the furniture industry.”
While smart products are more likely to be considered the new normal
in areas such as building management and controls, the furniture industry
is still determining how new technology can go beyond the cool factor
and provide real value to users.
“We’ve been trying to understand furniture’s role in this for quite some
time,” Shapiro explained. “Changing out furniture can be expensive and
difficult, so we’re always hesitant to implant technology that will quickly
But there is an increase in demand for smart offices, and in order
to respond to this need, OFS Brands partners with other companies
to deliver solutions. One partner, Robin Powered, provides conference
room software that integrates occupancy sensors and responds when
specific meeting participants enter a room. “Working with a partner like
Robin Powered allows our salesforce to recommend a solution that
provides value to designers looking to build smart office spaces without
trying to force that technology into our furniture,” Shapiro said.
There’s no doubt that office spaces will continue to evolve to support
productivity and mobility with new responsive and wireless technologies,”
“Data can be accessed anywhere. People can move away from their
desks and use all areas of an office or even be away from the office.
Any desk can be ‘my’ desk. People are following the data, and I believe
the next generation of smart products will support that,” Shapiro said.
“With time we will experience a level of responsiveness and productivity
Louisa Fitzgerald is the senior writer and editor at IIDA, which can be
reached at 1-888-799-4432, email@example.com, or www.iida.org.
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