What are some challenges unique to designing for corporate spaces?
Corporate design is very client-focused. As clients vary dramatically, from their respective industries and business segments to their customers and organizational cultures, each project comes with the unique challenge of thoroughly understanding the needs and desires of that specific client. As designers, we then must to translate that understanding into a design language and implement it effectively into our work.
What is your favorite piece of a corporate project you’ve worked on?
In a recent project I’ve worked on, we incorporated eye-catching, all-glass conference rooms that align perfectly on axis with the new exterior storefront window. The result was a stunning visual connection to the exterior and the introduction of more natural light without any sacrifice to functionality.
What is your favorite idea a client has brought to the table?
In my many years of corporate design, I have been fortunate to work with a long time client, American Eagle Outfitters. In our design strategies for their spaces, there has always been one design principle we follow: if it looks too “corporate,” then it’s not to be considered in the design. Many design decisions have been made just by answering that question!
What are some trending ideas in corporate design right now?
Over the last decade, there has been a drastic change to the definition of “workplace.” It’s no longer a strict, rigid environment with closed office doors and a sea of high workstation panels. Now, these spaces that are used 8+ hours a day must be comfortable and encourage productivity.
A few of the current trends aim to provide open, adaptable, and collaborative spaces. You’ll see these goals made possible through demountable wall partitions, custom furniture solutions, and flexible spaces – to name a few examples.
What values are most critical to consider when designing corporate spaces?
One of the most significant values is employee retention. We are creating spaces where people want to come to work every day. A poor environment can make the best employees look elsewhere. The right environment brings considerable value to the employer in both brand awareness and worker satisfaction.
Where do you look for inspiration when designing corporate spaces?
We are all influenced and inspired in some fashion by the current trends in buildings, interiors, furniture, and finishes. We are also inspired by historic architecture and the professionals that paved the way for the rest of us. But, overall, I find that I am most inspired by our clients. I love the idea that there is never a black and white answer, and there is a process to bringing a collaboration to life.
How does a company’s brand identity play into the design of their corporate space?
When starting a design, I often like to begin by looking at the client or end user’s branding and marketing materials. That provides useful insight into their corporate vision, goals, and office culture. Using this information as the basis of the design can drive the overall layout, feel, and finish concepts for the space by informing a more customized strategy.
What variety of spaces does corporate design include?
A typical corporate design project includes offices, conference rooms, breakout areas, and customized spaces, all of which need to be balanced appropriately for accessibility, privacy, space allocation, and a whole host of other factors.
What is something that surprised you about designing corporate spaces?
Something that has always surprised me about designing for corporate spaces is the large variety of company cultures that exist, and how those cultures inform the final design of a space. Though every office space has standard elements such as conference rooms, workspaces, and meeting areas, each project involves creating unique solutions to achieve a client’s goals while still supporting their identity and values.
How has corporate design changed over the years?
Many design trends have come and gone, so it is always a challenge to create space that’s universally appealing and timeless, yet at the same time uniquely functional to the specific client’s needs. Today, offices are no longer designed as ‘machines for working,’ just as we have moved away from designing houses as ‘machines for living.’ I’m excited to see what the future holds.