Beginner’s Guide to Contemporary Meeting Room Design

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Walk into the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and you’ll be greeted with a host of different art collections, ranging from classic art to contemporary art. Each collection is unique and beautiful in its own right.

The contemporary art is especially fascinating, as it incorporates elements of technology with artistic expression, something that wasn’t available to artists three hundred years ago. Harold E. Edgerton’s photo of a bullet slicing through a jack of hearts particularly embodies this mix of contemporary art and science.

The difference between art of different eras is evident not just in the mediums the artists use, but the ideology behind them. Classic art has beautiful elements that are pleasing and can be related to by a variety of audiences. Anyone can feel a connection with the beauty of the piece.

Contemporary art is more complex. Simply admiring its beauty and feeling the emotion from the piece, like with classic art, can be difficult for many casual observers. Contemporary art has deeper meaning and appeals to more niche audiences. Audiences that appreciate contemporary art have a better understanding of art education. Classic art is admired, while contemporary art needs to be understood.

Conference room design mirrors the differences between classic and contemporary art. While both appeal to different audiences, contemporary conference room design might not be understood by many casual employees.

However, a meeting room design impacts the function of the room. Contemporary interior design and its conference rooms have different layouts. Understanding these layouts will help your team better plan its next meeting room design plans.

Here’s five different contemporary conference room layouts to consider for your conference room upgrade.

Five Layouts for Contemporary Meeting Room Design

Banquet Style

A banquet style layout has meeting attendees sit around an oval, square, or hexagon-shaped table. This layout offers smaller groups a more intimate space that fosters communication. Team members don’t have to shout or jockey for position to participate. They can instead focus on the ideas and information that’s passing through the room.

This layout is great for staff training sessions. It can accommodate training sessions during meal times, like a lunch time meeting on the new rules of crisis management in the social media era.

Tables should accommodate between six and ten people and stand approximately 30 inches high. The diameter of the tables can be between 5-6 inches.

Theatre Style

Presentations are a staple of many conference rooms. For example, it’s not uncommon to have an outside vendor, like a creative agency, come in and pitch their ideas to your team. The visual presentation is just as important as the words coming out of the speaker’s mouth. It’s not enough to have your team merely present. They need to have unobstructed views of the presentation.

A theatre style layout, with a semi-circle pattern, can hone everyone’s focus to the presentation area. Attendees aren’t forced to sit behind one another, possibly obstructing someone’s view. It’s a pattern that offers everyone a comfortable seat for the presentation.

If you don’t prefer the semi-circle design, other theatre layouts can include an arrow or herringbone pattern.

Classroom Style

Think back to your days as a grade school student. Your desks were lined up, one after another. This same design is called the classroom style layout for conference rooms.

The classroom style layout works best when you have a large space at your disposal. It helps create an informal and pleasant atmosphere.

If you’d like to design your conference room to look like a classroom, slightly angle the rows toward the center. This will create a wing-like design, like the theatre style layout, can keep everyone’s focus on a center, presentation area.

The rows can be comprised of long tables, about eight feet in length, able to accommodate four or five team members per table.

Hollow Rectangle or Square

Like the classroom layout, a hollow rectangle or square layout works great with a large conference room. It enables meeting participants to sit facing one another.

A hollow rectangle or square design is perfect when you’re looking to negotiate deals with another party. You’re less concerned about a central presentation.

This layout is classy and elegant. It improves face-to-face communication for meetings that have less than twenty-five participants.

High End Conference Room Layout

If your budget is greater than the average team’s, a high end conference room layout is something you should treat your team to.

A high end meeting room design encompasses both top of the line furniture and audio/visual equipment.

High end  conference tables are long and rectangular, typically of high quality wood. Sometimes they can be glass. Often the AV equipment is built right into the table. The chairs swivel and it’s not uncommon for the seats to be comfortably padded, engulfing the meeting participant with spa-like comfort.

In addition to AV equipment that can be found directly in the conference room table, the quality of the AV equipment is superior to other options. These state-of-the art options offer beautiful sound and pristine displays. They can often be hidden in cabinets or slide-out racks from the wall, allowing the look of the rest of the conference room to look classy when a presentation isn’t being made.

Now that you know these five contemporary meeting room design layouts, which one best suits your office? Do you have room for a classroom style layout? Or do your needs better reflect the banquet style layout? Every team’s needs differ and it’s important to understand the size of your space and the focus of your meetings when determining which conference room design layout to choose.

Image Courtesy of Moshiri Associates