RESIMERCIAL INTERIORS: Workspaces That Feel Like Home

Resimercial design collage As the lines have blurred between work and home, interior designers have helped employers create more varied, flexible settings that feel less like a formal institution and more like a comfortable home-away-from-home.  Resimercial design, creating workspaces that feel more homelike than corporate, is a fairly recent trend that has grown in popularity.  According to Wayfair, the style became a “legitimate design movement,” at the 2017 NeoCon conference, a major annual event for the commercial design industry. To explore this new style, we’ve asked a few of our interior designers to share their thoughts about the resimercial design trend. 

Google Resimercial design samples
Arguably some of the best resimercial examples can be found at Google offices around the world. In fact, Stephen Searerthe founder of Office Snapshots credits Google as his inspiration for creating the online resource to highlight new projects, products and trends in the workplace.

How would you define resimercial design?

Jacqueline Fox:  Resimercial Design is a style that brings the comforts of home into what can otherwise be cold or uninviting environments. It’s responding to the need for a mix of workspaces, meeting locations and break zones to appeal to varying needs and personal preferences.

Michayla Pflieger:  I would describe it as the blend of residential and commercial design within the same space. It’s about finding ways to introduce residential style furniture, lighting fixtures, finishes, etc. to create the feel of a home environment while being in a commercial setting.  Just like a home, it includes spaces that provide for different work modes or activities with more emphasis on social zones such as break areas or collaboration spaces than might be found in a more traditional work setting.

Many manufacturers are designing products that look more residential than corporate, such as the use of a carpet (rug) inset with sofas and lounge chairs as a breakout space. When representatives come to our office showcasing new products, whether carpet, tile, furniture, or other elements, they often show “install” images where the office setting pictured looks very similar to residential design applications. Our office is a good example of this too!

Resimercial kitchen design at RLPS
Resimercial design replaces institutional formality with a more informal welcoming vibe. RLPS Office, Larry Lefever Photography

How did this trend get started?

Jacqueline: The trend really took off in corporate work environments as employers recognized the benefits of soft, inviting work environments that would potentially entice employees to want to stay at the office longer. According to Work Design, the concept stems from millennials feeling that they can work anywhere due to freedoms provided by technology.

Paste-up" by Florence Knoll for a Planning Unit project.
Paste-up” by Florence Knoll for a Planning Unit project. Image from the Knoll Archive.

Jessie Santini:  The term resimercial has been popularized in recent years with evolving open office planning and a focus on mobility and comfort.

However, I would credit Florence Knoll with this concept, dating back to her early days designing and planning commercial office interiors for modern high rises in the 1960s.  Her integration of color, pattern, texture and soft seating laid the foundation for the 21st century resimercial trend.

Clustered groupings featuring residential-inspired furnishings at ephrata high school
Clustered groupings featuring residential-inspired furnishings provide students with appealing and comfortable spaces for learning experiences that can be customized to personal preferences and task.  Ephrata Area High School, Nathan Cox Photography

Can resimercial design be found in other settings?

Jacqueline: Resimercial design concepts can also be found in the education market. Today’s colleges and universities feature soft, comfortable, homey spaces where students can lounge with a cup of coffee. And recently, the West Shore School District chose wood-look flooring in lieu of the more traditional vinyl composition tile (VCT) in the classrooms to make students feel more like a home than a sterile environment.

Michayla:  We have also seen resimercial design influences in senior living, as it is becoming a more hospitality geared market. We try to create a sense of home, whether through the furniture and fabrics, light fixtures or finishes.  Manufacturers are coming out with new, commercial-grade furniture options that look like pieces you would find in a home. These homelike elements are invaluable to help residents feel like they have simply moved into another home rather than an institutional environment.

lancaster chamber offices
Durability is one of several factors that can be an issue with residential grade furniture. Fortunately, according to Wayfair, the resimercial trend is causing many suppliers to offer lines of residential-inspired furniture with commercial quality.

Are there any drawbacks or challenges associated with resimercial design?

Jessie:  One of the drawbacks to this trend is that residential grade furniture is often used in commercial spaces.  While not always the case, residential furniture typically has less available information regarding durability, lightfastness, colorfastness, sustainability, and fire testing than commercial grade furniture has.

Jacqueline:  The challenge is balancing commercial durability needs with the desire for colors, textures, fabrics and patterns found in residential materials.  Finding a residential looking product that will withstand the daily abuse of a commercial setting usually comes with a more expensive price tag. On the other hand, achieving a resimercial aesthetic for less, requires careful communication so that clients understand that less expensive products typical to what might be found through a home goods retailer may show wear more quickly or need to be replaced more frequently.

As employees increasingly seek flexibility including work-from-home options, studies have shown the values of trends like resimerical design that can help to make it appealing for employees to work in the office.  In some ways, it just makes sense that design strategies to create a mix of homelike settings that are comfortable and appealing can help employees (or students) to get their work done.

Jessie Santini, IIDA, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C, has 15 years of commercial design experience.  She holds certification for the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ)  and is an Accredited Professional for both the LEED and WELL building programs.

Jacqueline Fox, IIDA has five years of commercial interior design experience and has achieved National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) Certification, the highest standard of competency for Interior Designers.

Michayla Pflieger has four years of experience and is studying for the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) certification exam.

Blog Editor – Jodi Kreider, LEED AP