Office

Designing Office Interiors

Design trends in the corporate office scene are constantly changing with new technological advances, environmental concerns, and space availability. As 2007 approaches, companies are looking toward designs that are energy conscious, flexible, comfortable, and reflective of their corporate brand. To achieve this type of design, several trends have emerged as popular features of today’s contemporary office environment.

Green Design

As green products continue to grow in popularity, many designers are specifying sustainable products, such as bamboo veneers, which are less wasteful than their wood counterparts, and terrazzo flooring with recycled glass content. With more clients becoming aware of the environmental and economical benefits of the U.S. Green Buildings program and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the demand for such sustainable products is increasing.

Using green materials in carpets as well as furniture finishes and paints leads to substantial reductions in the off-gassing of pollutants into office interiors. Because of this, environment friendly recycled carpets and paints with low volumes of volatile organic compounds are increasingly popular.

Natural light is another characteristic of energy-conscious office design. Natural lighting improves a property’s energy efficiency and may enhance employee productivity. A current office trend is open space designs that incorporate tall windows, skylights, solar panels, and atriums to supply as much natural light as possible.

Color Schemes

Designers are going back to basic and natural hues. Today’s interiors include neutral and calming color schemes in an attempt to balance fast-paced technology with quality of life. Natural materials or the use of metallic materials with a hint of glimmer capture the upscale feel many business owners seek. A few examples include glass tile wall accents, wall coverings with a hint of metallic shimmer, and metal-clad soffits.

Color affects employees’ moods and concentration. For example, warmer tones are used to create a comfortable environment, while natural materials provide a soothing, relaxing, and quiet aura.

Spa-like or Zen-type environments also are popular design themes, especially in high-traffic reception or waiting areas. The look is achieved by using clean lines and uncluttered spaces to evoke a sense of serenity, luxury, and comfort.

Branding

Incorporating a company’s identity continues to be an important part of office design in 2007. As companies strive to distinguish themselves from competitors, branding has become more large scale. A strong corporate branding strategy can assist a company and its management team by implementing its long-term vision, creating a unique position within the marketplace, and unlocking leadership potential within the business.

For instance, Callaway Golf uses neutral colors in its offices to express the company’s brand. Designers worked with the company to create a neutral palette to blend with its product lines. As merchandise is developed, the office interiors adopt several accent colors that complement the new products.

Carpets

Carpet tiles have made a strong comeback as technology advances have made them cost effective. Tiles now come in a variety of textures, patterns, and colors.

Tiles typically consist of bonded carpet, the main advantage of which is damaged or worn areas easily can be replaced without having to re-carpet the entire area. For example, tiles sitting underneath furniture can be swapped with those in high-traffic areas to even out wear and tear. Carpet tiles also provide easy access to under-floor wiring or plumbing.

Flexible Space

Flexible space is in demand. Workspaces are slightly smaller, but require more acoustical privacy. Private, quiet spaces as well as team-oriented meeting areas for co-worker collaboration are essential to any office.

Telecommuting is growing in popularity as employees have the option to work from home or various other locations. Conference rooms are more numerous and multifunctional, whether used as a temporary office or a brainstorming room.

High-tech conference rooms continue to be a strong trend, complete with features such as video conferencing capabilities, flat-screen TVs, and gas plasma screens that offer brilliant images. Liquid crystal display flat screens are gaining strides over standard monitors. LCD screens use less space and power, and provide clear-cut imagery.

These new ideas in design represent a healthy progression from yesterday’s corporate office scene. These new trends can enhance property values, lower overall expenditures, create better resale values, and lead to healthier and more productive workers.

Karen Tom

Karen Tom is director of interior design for Tucker Sadler Architects in San Diego. To contact her, visit www.tuckersadler.com.

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