CRE Design Trends

by Capstak

Design can enthrall us. The sum of parts, the ordered collection and construction of things can move and inspire us – that is, when we take a moment to think about it. Everything around us is designed, from the cities we live in, to the goods we purchase, our lives revolve around expressions of design, but for most of us – it’s not too often that we stop and appreciate it.

The future of commercial real estate architecture and design is as exciting and diverse as the future of our industry, economy, and culture. That makes sense. Design is and will always be a reflection of the times, physical expressions that both frame the present, and inspire the future. We’ve gathered up a short list of design trends we expect to see a lot more of in the coming year, and we don’t hesitate to say that we’re excited about them.



Zhong Huan Plaza Art Center. Photo Credit -

Zhong Huan Plaza Art Center. Photo Credit –

Undulating lines, and robust design that gives the impression of material in motion defines this aesthetic that will become more and more common this year.

Zhong Huan Plaza Art Center - Interior

Zhong Huan Plaza Art Center – Interior. Photo Credit –

The contortion style is simultaneously one of high drama and ease. While the warped metal facade of a building like China’s Zhong Huan Plaza Art Center (pictured) is striking, the flowing lines allow for a building that marries well with the landscape, not standing proudly against it. 



TreeXOffice - London. Exterior

TreeXOffice. Photo Credit –

Sustainability efforts is already affecting commercial design in 2016, but vegetation will also be a trend this year. While smarter, more sustainable buildings will be designed from the inside-out to be greener, more environmentally friendly spaces, the vegetation aesthetic focuses on exteriors that blend seamlessly with the Earth’s natural elements, and interiors that bring more of those elements indoors.

TreeXOffice - Interior

TreeXOffice – Interior. Matt Dunham / Associated Press

A space like the TreeXOffice in London’s Hoxton Square (pictured) is a great example of this trend. The temporary workspace is wrapped around a tree trunk in the middle of the urban park, giving people a place to sit down for a meeting and get real office work done while experiencing what the outdoors has to offer.



McDonald's - Rotterdam.

McDonald’s – Rotterdam. Photo Credit

Designing commercial buildings with a focus on light – both artificial and natural – allows architects to create spaces that change drastically between day and night. This is an energetic style, buildings like this McDonald’s in Rotterdam (pictured), The Netherlands, use a perforated metal facade that results in a daytime look of gold sheet metal, but at night, with light coming through the perforations, the building glows and beacons customers inside. 

McDonald's Interior

Interior. Photo Credit

The enormous windows and open floor plan are two other elements of this style, that wash the interior with natural light during the day, and at night gives workers and patrons alike the impression that they’re in a isolated space in the middle of town. 


M Plaza

The facade of M Plaza in Seoul. Photo Credit – Manifesto Architecture /

Patterns, wherever we may find them, are at once simple and complex. Patterns can simultaneously comfort and intrigue, and as a design element within and without commercial buildings, they draw the eye and keep spaces interesting even to those who see them every day. At Seoul’s M Plaza, we see the pattern aesthetic used effectively in the facade to bring depth to the face of the building, and create a more dynamic visual. 



Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, “Every great architect is — necessarily — a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” And we agree (but really, who would we be to do otherwise?) – the creators, visualizers, and innovators of commercial building design interpret our time and place in the world and reflect it back to us in design. If the trends of 2016 are any indicator, we can’t wait to see what else is in store for lovers of great buildings everywhere.

What do you think? Do these trends excite or bore you? Is there any design element you wish you were seeing more of? No matter what the answer, we’d love to hear it! 

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Capstak is a market network for the commercial real estate capital markets. Capstak’s proprietary technology solutions empower the $15 trillion commercial real estate industry by enabling CRE professionals to find deals, source capital and identify trusted business partners with greater ease and efficiency. CRES provides bespoke services to enhance the efficiency of the matchmaking of capital for capital seekers and brokers advising the debt and equity CRE capital markets. The company is headquartered in Reno, Nevada with offices in New York and San Francisco.