One of the mysteries of what a designer creates for their client is the creative ideas that are generated which should result in a unique design solution that makes that client’s project different from any others. This mysterious and magical process should actually be based on a lot of givens that come directly from the clients themselves. By understanding the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture, the designer should get a good sense of how their creative design solution should be a reflection of all those things. It also helps if the organization has a logo and other graphic tools that they already use to promote their business so that their facility design can tie into those existing outward-facing elements.
Some examples of reflecting the culture and the mission in workplace design would include the overall layout of the space, the finishes to be used and the style of the design (ie traditional vs. transitional vs. contemporary).
- An organization that is committed to open communication between management and staff would most likely have fewer closed office, more glass in closed offices and lower panel heights around systems furniture stations. There are many examples of presidents who have a workstation out in the middle of the open office area.
- A technology company would most likely have lighter finishes than that of a traditional law firm.
- A technology company would most likely be more contemporary in style than that of a law firm.
Colors in logos can be highly influential in determining the finish palette for interior finishes for floors, general wall finishes and accent walls. We recently created a branded finish standard for a company that has locations all over the world initially based on colors found in their new logo. These finishes are used in all of their new facilities so that there is branded continuity in the overall appearance of all of their facilities.
Of course, it is also the special design elements in the upgraded, more public-facing areas that make the most difference in the design of a space. It may be upgraded wall or floor finishes, special ceiling treatments, custom millwork, upgraded lighting effects, artwork, graphics or plants that add that special finishing touch to any space. The most important thought that I want to leave you with is that the designer must put their ego aside when developing the “branded image” for their client, so that their design can reflect the corporate culture and desired image while also responding to the realities of budget and schedule.
By Richard Fanelli, AIA, CFM, IFMA Fellow