Today our lives and lifestyles are assuming an increasingly fluid shape. But, despite the growing amount of options now open to us, our physical space – or rather the lack of it – is now becoming an ever more pressing issue and one that will eventually affect us all. And this is not just a consideration for architects and planners but an area that branding needs to recognise and embrace as we all take responsibility for solving the demands of a burgeoning society.

CSR initiatives, brand collaboration and investment are important and necessary. But, the issue of domestic space is forcing brands to address a new challenge: the need to find creative and clever space solutions as we look to an ever-increasing future population. A strong example of a brand now showing responsibility outside of its sector is Delta Air Lines and its CSR program. Raising funds through an in-flight recycling program it is helping build homes for those in need, recently announcing the news that it is building affordable homes in six American cities.

Enter also new initiatives like the Yo! Home, the latest brainchild of Yo Sushi founder, entrepreneur and business guru Simon Woodroffe. His new Yo! Home invention expands the living space by transforming the basic 800 sq feet living with 12 expertly designed moving parts and doors to provide you with 3-4 times that space. Is it just a no frills approach to the question of space? Or, is it revolutionary brand design and creative stage management providing the utmost in your very own slice of theatre and experience? Time will tell.

With this increasing threat of lack of physical space and pressure for sustainable behaviour becoming a growing and global obligation, work and leisure space is also expected to fulfil a new and very different role within today’s urban society. We want and need to see more resourceful and respectful space solutions. One new and highly notable innovation is the Tetra Shed Office: an alternative ‘shed’ workspace with seven sides that can house 26 people when several are joined together are offering flexible space solutions for both the individual and for business.

It is in the approach to our working lives where we have maybe seen the greatest impact and most significant shape change to our society. Always a frontrunner in innovation and behavioural change, Google led the charge for emerging new work environments with its highly publicised Google Lab in the US and corresponding Google Campus in London offering seven floors of flexible work-spaces.

Both Google and Apple’s future HQs in Silicon Valley are reportedly being purpose built in such a way to foster freedom and fluidity and to ‘force’ collaboration. Google’s new Bay View campus will feature walkways angled to force accidental encounters while Apple’s ‘Spaceship Headquarters’ will include a world-class auditorium and an orchard for engineers to wander, think and create. Google and Apple are proving once again that they are not only brand leaders in technological innovation but are setting new standards and directives for how brands and businesses operate and interact in their physical settings and spaces.

This should also be prompting us to look one step beyond and see whether there is the opportunity to engineer a completely new iteration of shared space and, maybe most importantly, of changing lifestyles. Zaha Hadid’s designs for the Beko complex of apartments in Belgrade, Serbia (on the site of an abandoned textiles factory) includes offices, a congress centre, leisure facilities, galleries and shops as part of an integrated plan in which all the buildings flow from one to another, to start to ‘address the complexity of twenty-first century living patterns’ according to Hadid.

It’s early days but we need to find ways to rise to these challenges and create powerful, practical and actionable solutions to reflect the new physical and mental space that we expect working and living together in the future to occupy.

Originally published on Branding Magazine