It is safe to say that Commercial design is finally taking the hint and conforming their interior spaces to meet the needs of their inhabitants. I always tell my clients that their spaces create a certain “feeling” when people experience them. Does the space feel tranquil or chaotic? Does it give a feeling of serenity or of power and ambition? Do your clients, patients and employees feel good in their surrounding environments? In almost every space, the ultimate goal is to make the people who will be utilizing it feel comfortable and at ease. And usually people feel most at ease when they’re at home.
THE FEELING OF HOME IS BECOMING INDUSTRY STANDARD
The latest trend in commercial design is to bring in more of the home element. While the Healthcare industry seems to have taken the biggest and quickest leap in that department, we are now seeing it in more expanded areas of design. “ . . . it’s now becoming an industry standard to provide informal areas for relaxation and collaboration which align closer to a hospitality aesthetic and residential comfort.” - “The ‘Resimercial’ Takeover” Interiors and Sources September 2017 (read full article here). While this article speaks more in depth to commercial furnishings and how they are being made to feel more residential while not sacrificing the quality of commercial grade furniture, these changes can also be seen in so many more elements of the design process.
Currently we’re working on a 53,000 square foot multiple-building corporate office renovation that will have a brand new reception area along with a café-style break room for the main headquarters. They want this space to exude their corporate image to visitors but also want those visitors and employees to feel comfortable as well as professional. And while the furnishings will play a large role in the overall aesthetics and design of these buildings, it is the finishes and function that will ultimately achieve the goal of warmer design.
COLOR IS KEY
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by adding more soothing color palettes. In the past, companies used corporate blue and sterile white to design their spaces. But now we’re reaching into the more muted yet colorful palette combinations to add life, energy and charisma to our interiors. Even the industrial look that has recently been on the design scene is making thoughtful efforts to cross that colder feel with warmer wood tones and soft seating to give a pleasant balance to consumers.
Another great way that we’re using to warm up a space is lighting. For DECADES people have been using institutional fluorescent lighting in their offices, schools, churches, healthcare and everywhere in between. I’m sure it has its fans, but every client I’ve ever discussed lighting with has always given their poor opinion of it. It took a while for the LED generation to finally take hold, but now that it has, lighting companies are working harder and harder to make it more efficient and functional for more and more people. We’re even seeing it in homes now and we love it! There are so many temperature options and installation applications for LED lighting AND it’s environmentally smart as well.
CREATING A COMMUNITY
And while softer more versatile furniture IS a vital part of creating a warmer more inviting space, it’s in the high-traffic areas that we’re really beginning to see a major change. Gone are the days of a standard breakroom with nothing more than a microwave and refrigerator. They are now adding café seating with beautiful outdoor views, large-screen televisions and mini-markets. Community tables are gaining in popularity so that larger groups of people can sit together and enjoy their meals like they do at home; as a family. Corporations love this because naturally it encourages camaraderie amongst their employees and collaboration on projects. Just like at home, communication is key to a successful work environment and that’s not lost on big or small businesses.
There are so many ways to warm up a commercial space and innovative thinkers are breaking the design barriers to make it happen. The Hospitality industry has made its mark and people want to feel more comfortable in their non-home spaces. The more time spent away from home, incites a natural desire in people to crave that every-day home environment and with great care and attention to detail, we as designers can accommodate those demands.
So go design something beautiful (and functional of course) and make the world you live in a much nicer place to just be!