Clean & Contemporary: Office Design Trends Lean Toward Flexibility Sustainability, Experts Say

More businesses are turning to clean contemporary lines in interior design, with an eye toward functionality, productivity and employee retention. In today’s economy few companies want the costs and risks that come with constructing a new building, preferring to squeeze all the productivity they can out of the space they have. This means that functionality now increasingly means flexibility, complete with modular designs that allow walls, furniture and even carpet to be moved and reconfigured. Companies are paying particular attention to common areas like conference rooms, copy rooms and storage sites, with break rooms even being turned into usable office space.

The author notes that building remodels are increasingly going green, with building owners earning LEED certifications through use of energy-saving devices and other environmentally healthy products. One product coming back into popularity in this regard is the once lowly carpet tile, which allows replacement of worn areas without “landfilling” the whole carpet.

Source: Dan Grigg, Idaho Business Review (Boise); Jul 20, 2009

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2009 Dolan Media Newswires

When Petra CEO Jerry Frank told his interior design team he wanted to roll out the red carpet for his clients, Sprague Solutions responded with a big roll of red carpet.

His little comment, even though he thought it was just a little comment, became the inspiration for the entire project, said Tracy Sprague, who owns Boise-based Sprague Solutions along with her husband Daniel Sprague.

In designing Petra’s Meridian headquarters, a project that wrapped up last year, Sprague Solutions wanted the space to reflect the CEO’s comical and dynamic personality while also keeping the environment professional.

And Sprague wanted to give the space a look that acknowledged the company’s solid history while highlighting its forward-thinking approach.

More businesses are turning to the clean, contemporary lines in interior design that connote a progressive attitude, Daniel Sprague said. That look speaks to both clients and employees, Tracy Sprague added.

And the effects are manifest down through the functionality of a space, productivity levels and employee retention, she said.

Expectations for functionality of a space have come to include flexibility – the ability to change a space as a company grows or shrinks or changes its focus.
Christine Duft-McConville, senior interior designer at Boise-based CTA Architects Engineers, said trends toward modular flexibility have been active for five to 10 years.

But they’re even more relevant today with what’s happened with the fluctuations in the economy, she said. Change and fluctuation we can never predict. When you have a modular design, you have a better chance of being able to adapt and use the same parts and pieces to just reconfigure.
So walls, furniture and even carpet that can be moved around are becoming prevalent.

And companies are finding ways to implement that flexibility to make the space in their existing footprint work as they shy away from the cost and risk of constructing a new building.

We’ve seen much more remodeling versus new construction, said Boise-based Seed Interiors owner Gina Roberts-Wagner. … [Companies are] just kind of updating as needed for the time being. The economy’s really made people more tentative of doing things that are risky.

Along with the economic downturn comes a need for businesses to squeeze all the productivity they can out of the space they have.

Boise architect Patrick McKeegan said companies are extra conscious these days about common areas like conference rooms, copy rooms and storage rooms.
One of the things we’re not seeing anymore are formal break rooms, he said. We’re taking that break room space and turning that into usable office space. A break room doesn’t make anybody any money – you need a desk for an employee to make money.

As they remodel, companies are paying more attention to the environmental IQ of the products they’re using.

One example of a product that has become more popular in recent years is carpet tile. It allows users to replace worn sections of the carpet with new tiles, instead of ripping out the whole floor. Sustainability-focused designers love it because it keeps extra materials out of landfills.

Nicole Cecil, interior designer and project manager for Boise-based CSHQA, said she’s seen companies attracted to environmentally healthy products, but they’re not necessarily looking to jump into a green overhaul.

She said as some building owners consider steps they can take to retain existing tenants in a competitive market, they have looked into what it would take to earn LEED (the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

She said the one client that is following through with that investigation is Unico Properties, which is making the required changes in its Boise U.S. Bank building to qualify for LEED for Existing Buildings.

But many building owners are holding back from making environmental upgrades for now.

I think people in general are becoming more aware of environmental impact personally and professionally – but not to the level where they demand that of buildings, which is unfortunate, she said. But maybe that’s not typical. I hesitate to say that’s the norm – it may be partly the economy.
Tracy Sprague pointed out that flexible spaces in themselves have green benefits.

If we can avoid building jib walls and put in things like modular walls or panels – because my company maybe has only 10 employees today but my goal is for it to have 25 next year, and here I am in this current office and I can’t afford to move to accommodate growth – why not have flexibility within the space? she said. The cost goes down, and you’re not moving around and rebuilding and demolishing and adding to landfills. There’s a green aspect, and flexibility lends itself well to that.

Post Your Comment