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The Future of Interaction

By Robert Nieminen

In the future, the interaction between people and spaces will become even more fluid and open.

Apple’s already infamous commercial slogan, “There’s an app for that,” has seemingly made its way into every facet of our lives. Whether you’re earnestly looking for a calorie counter to help you keep that New Year’s resolution or have already succumbed to temptation and want to indulge yourself at the best restaurant in a new city… you guessed it, there’s an app for that.

That pervasive catchphrase even wiggled its way into the headline of this month’s Trends article (click here to view), which offers an overview of the latest and most useful mobile apps that can help you streamline the design process. And—I kid you not—there is even a website dedicated to generating witty “App For That” phrases for those who are just looking for a good punch line, including this gem: “If it looks like someone’s got a case of the Mondays, there’s an app for that.”

On a more serious note, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently introduced its new App Lab, which is the focus of this issue’s EnvironDesign Notebook column (click here to view). “The App Lab embodies the mission behind the LEED Automation program, which is to literally open up the backend of LEED Online, the online software LEED project teams use to guide their projects from registration to certification,” writes Dhruv Gami, director of technology for the USGBC. Although the App Lab is still in beta testing, the growing collection of apps features innovations in data collection, information and content integration, and project management, and is sure to transform the LEED certification process by making it faster, easier and more accessible on a much broader scale.

While mobile technology is all the rage, this issue also delves into other new technologies that will have a profound impact on the spaces in which we will work and play in the future. Managing Editor Adam Moore takes an in-depth look at the office of tomorrow, which is already emerging in the design of collaborative spaces in today’s workplace (click here to view). As we witness the death of the wire (and perhaps even the electrical socket), we can look forward to “devices that will power themselves, easily and without our intervention, from existing sources of energy in the room or special devices embedded in the walls,” and to smart surfaces that will allow us to interact directly with our desks, tables and walls to share our latest presentation, without needing to plug in a computer or tablet.


Interiors & Sources® is dedicated to the advancement of the commercial interior design profession. It connects design professionals with the projects, products, firms and associations that shape the built environment and promotes the value of design services in the creation of functional, sustainable and aesthetically-pleasing environments. Each issue delivers relevant and timely information that equips design practitioners with the knowledge and tools necessary to reach design excellence in their own practices. Editorial ideas and contributions are welcome from all members of the design industry.

In the more distant future, the interaction between people and spaces will become even more fluid and open, as we will no longer be tethered to concrete objects such as mobile devices, screens and furniture, as Senior Editor AnnMarie Martin reports in this month’s feature story, “Give and Take” (click here to view). From retail spaces and displays, such as the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale’s in New York City, to restaurants and public spaces, such as the “We Remember” exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, digital technologies and connectivity have “forced design into a two-way conversation, where people aren’t just impacted by a space, but can leave their mark on it as well,” she writes.

“We think the future of interaction is exactly that—a multidisciplinary way to prompt the world into action. The question is to what end,” muses Jake Barton, principal at Local Projects, who Martin interviewed for her story. The answer, she says, while unclear, will be driven by the end user, whose seemingly insatiable desire for connectivity and self-expression is already transforming the digital world and the communities we “occupy” via social networking sites and the like.

Personally, I find these glimpses into the future of spaces to be fascinating, and I’m confident that designers will play a pivotal role in shaping them.

This issue is so full of valuable information that I encourage you to read it cover to cover. I believe you won’t be disappointed. When you’re finished, let us know what you think about the topics covered this month by sounding off on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Not a fan yet? Then grab your smartphone and launch those apps, or download a barcode scanner app and point it at the QR code at the left.

Not sure how to do it? I’m sure there’s an app for that.