Asia has the spices

Spicing up the Workplace – Part 1
Design Innovation in Asia

Reading Time: 2 minute/s excluding links.

Asia has the right ingredients for Design Innovation

In this first part of a four part series, I explore the major socio-economic drivers of workplace design innovation in Asia, and explain why I believe this will drive new approaches to workplace design which will influence global best practices during the next decade.

Although many offices and retail centres in major Asian cities look like they could be “Anytown, USA”, this does not need to be the future of Asian design.  In fact, I am betting that it won’t be, that the next wave of design innovation in workplace will be driven by Asia.

Asian born and bred companies are going global with their unique brands and ways of doing business.  Companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, Reliance, and CapitaLand aspire to creating an optimal blend of global best practice and local innovation in their business models.

Diverse design responses to social and economic trends across Asia will result in dynamic work environments which will create competitive advantage through corporate real estate.


Image of green and red chillis indicating the spice of Asia

The future of work is pretty exciting in Asia, where a mostly young and dynamic population are challenged to find solutions to major demographic, environmental and social issues.  Fuelled by faster economic growth than in most of the developed world, this creates a fertile ground for collective experimentation.

These “Asian flavours” will be adapted by clients in western markets who seek to replicate some of the ingredients of successful business innovation in Asia.


To understand how workplace design in Asia is changing and will continue to change, we must first understand the catalysts.  There are four major socio-economic factors driving innovation in both business and design within Asia.

  1. Continuing urbanisation and “densification” of Asian cities

  2. Significant direct investment in R&D in Asia by local and international business

  3. Mobile personal device and internet access penetration approaching 100%

  4. Asia’s domination of global university graduates during the next decade

The infographic below summarises many of these key influences, which are explored in more detail in the rest of this series.

Asia Innovation Statistica

Infographic of drivers of future Asia Design Innovation


In the next part of this series to be published on Nov 23, 2015, I’ll share some credible data on urbanisation and “densification” of cities, highlight some of the likely impacts and suggest ways in which this might influence work environments.  As always, links to major sources of information are included in the text for reference and further reading.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Please leave a comment or contact me directly.