Office Design Tips & Tricks

by | Dec 4, 2017

How to make your office reflect your brand

Your office has the opportunity to tell a unique story about your company and directly impact someone’s reaction to your brand.  As a reflection of your company’s personality and culture, it should be distinctive and stimulating for your clients and employees.  To flush out these defining qualities, start by asking some fundamental questions such as: What do we value and what makes us different (from others in our field)? It also helps to know what kind of tone you want to set – it could be conservative and formal or edgy and casual or somewhere in between.

The design of the space can then come to fruition through a combination of unique elements that reflect the brand, which can include everything from the color palette and textures of the walls, floors, and furniture, to site-specific artwork, multi-functional spaces, and the use of re-purposed materials.

To reflect San Diego Magazine’s brand, which is hip, savvy and fun, and revolves around the staff’s creative collaboration and relationships amongst the community, we used a variety of materials, textures, artwork, custom furniture, and functional seating areas.  Some of these elements include wallpaper made from recycled magazines, wall murals (designed by the staff) with amusing colorful slogans and their magazine covers, an enlarged old black and white photo of San Diego to represent the longstanding history of the magazine, a coffee table made of rolled up magazines, chalkboard walls to for an ever-changing environment, and comfortable seating areas ideal for impromptu brainstorming sessions.

How to make your office/desk area your own

One of the easiest ways to personalize your workspace is through lighting – choosing your preferred task lighting gives you control over the ambient feel of your space.  Adding color in the form of an accent wall and/or artwork if the space allows and incorporating indoor-friendly low-maintenance plants, such as succulents, or even realistic artificial plants, can add life and brighten up an otherwise dull cube or office.  I’m also a big proponent of ergonomic furniture and seating and desk alternatives altogether, such as medicine balls and standing desks.  It’s encouraging that more and more companies are accepting these modifications as normal requests from their employees.  

General tips on color, texture, art etc.

Color is important because it not only reflects the vibe of your brand, but it also has the power to affect your mood and productivity.  Red and orange shades tend to be more intense and energizing whereas blue and green shades are more relaxing, improving energy and focus.  Another thing to remember is that the amount of light within a space should be considered when selecting colors, as they can look completely different in different lights.  I also generally steer people away from picking colors that are too dark as they have a more lethargic effect.

The use of textures also has a significant impact on the impression a space inflicts.  It can make a space more dynamic and interesting or it can go virtually unnoticed.  It depends on the aesthetic of the brand or what type of mood they are going for.

Lighting is one of the most important elements to the feel of the space.  I recommend using as much natural light as possible since it’s proven to create a healthier work environment (although it also needs to be controlled for glare).  I also always suggest integrating decorative lighting because it adds an entirely different dimension to the space.  For general ambient light, I recommend using daylight color rendition bulbs vs. old school flickering fluorescent ones.

Regarding art, I try to encourage the decision makers behind a project to involve the staff in its selection and creation, not only to provide an accurate reflection of the company as a whole, but as a way of promoting team-building and cohesiveness around the brand on behalf of the employees.  

While I’m not a feng shui master, I advocate strongly for including plants in the workplace, as they bring life, energy and an overall feeling of well-being that no color, texture or light fixture can bring.

Aside from the creative and fun design aspects, the most important element of a workplace is function.  A business depends on efficiency and productivity, and each element that makes up the layout of the space is crucial to its functionality.  It’s important to have a solid concept of the business’s practical needs – Open space vs. private offices?  Casual collaborative spaces or formal meeting rooms?  Storage requirements?  IT requirements?  Sound attenuation?  Once these needs are established, it forms the basis for successful workplace design.

There are many ways to accommodate the fundamental elements of a unique, inspiring and functional workspace, from low to high budgets.  It just takes some creativity and a willingness to think outside the box to accomplish!

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