Blending Function With Style
Most of us spend more hours at the office than we do at home – and it can get pretty stressful. While there’s no escaping the demands of your job, designing a functional, harmonious office space will help you ensure that your time at work is a little less taxing and a lot more productive.
Whether you’re planning a full commercial space, decorating your own cubicle, or making room for a home office, these tips can help you create a more productive and peaceful environment.
The way you decorate your office says quite a bit about you – make it feel like home. If you have a say in how your space is furnished, choose pieces that speak to your own design aesthetic, but that also accommodate the way you work. A home office can either function as an extension of your home itself, featuring similar style and décor, or you can use this area as an opportunity to showcase an entirely different side of your personality.
A well-designed office space will offer a work environment that is both professional and welcoming. Guest chairs should be as comfortable as your own chair (you wouldn’t want someone sitting on an awkward piece of furniture in your living room at home, would you?). Fresh flowers are a nice touch, too – providing a bit of feminine softness that can make any space feel more like home.
Wherever you can, add personal touches like framed photos on your walls or desk or unique accent pieces like a sculptural bowl or vase, but keep it friendly. It’s tempting to cover your walls with awards and plaques, but that can seem overly confident and even intimidating.
If you’re designing shared workspace that will accommodate multiple people, look for ways to make it feel personal for those working in them, too. Asking for their input will help give employees a sense of pride and ownership over their work environment. Not only will this foster a healthy relationship between you and your staff, but they’ll also wind up happier – and more productive – in the comfortable environment they assisted in designing.
Organization is key when it comes to creating an efficient (and attractive) office space. Anything that can be hidden away should be, including things like wires and equipment that aren’t frequently used. By keeping your surfaces and spaces free of clutter, you’re contributing to a distraction-free workplace – both physically and mentally, as a more harmonious space can even help offload psychological baggage.
Provide plenty of accessible storage options where normal paper clutter can be filed away, and find stylish containers to store other desk supplies that are used throughout the day – pens, markers, staplers, notepads, and more. Check out these zen tips for some more ideas on how you can better organize your office space.
Still, your office is a functional workplace, not a showpiece – everything won’t be neatly tidied away all the time. For items that will inevitably be left out on surfaces, invest in some nicer products instead of just picking up the least expensive option. (Check out brands like Poppin, Amara, and Moleskine.) This will make your office seem more streamlined, which both staff and clients will appreciate.
Any well-designed space should be built to accommodate a variety of purposes – and a great way to ensure multi-functionality is to look for modular furniture (we’ve got plenty of suggestions in our post about maximizing space). Even if you’re stuck at a small cubicle, finding pieces that offer a range of uses can help make your tight space feel more efficient and organized.
If you have any say over the floor plan of your office, look for an opportunity to provide both individual spaces and larger open areas for socializing and group work. While there is some argument that a completely open floor plan is best, we prefer a space that allows for more privacy, as well. Multi-purpose workspaces give employees options to tackle projects in the environments where they work best, whether that is with a big team in a big space, or all alone in a quiet office, with the door closed. This helps them feel liberated, comfortable, and more efficient.
Bring in a bit of nature.
The fluorescent lights and cinder-block walls that can be found in most office buildings can suck the life right out of a space, but your design can help combat this negativity through the incorporation of calming elements like natural light, fresh green plants, and other organic materials. If you have the opportunity, find a way to provide an outside escape where staff can enjoy some fresh air while having lunch or working on a laptop.
Even if you lack access to an outdoor space, you can always design your interior with nature in mind. Avoid placing shelves or desks in areas that block windows to allow the natural light and fresh air to penetrate through as much of the space as possible, and keep the fluorescent lights off whenever you can. Opt for warm wood accents and sculptural forms, as organic materials and shapes can help evoke the atmosphere of the outdoors. Incorporate greenery, too – small plants on individual desks, and larger ones in more open areas.
For more ideas, check out Plant The Future’s spectacular collaborations and installations – and then visit their online shop to find the perfect piece to bring a little bit of nature to your office environment.
All workplaces are different – and everyone works differently. Thinking outside the box might be clichéd advice, but it’s a good tip when it comes to designing a commercial space. Using outside influences to inspire your design can give you the unique perspective you need to create something exceptional. We love how architectural designer David Rockwell brought in a choreographer to collaborate on an interior design project at Kennedy International Airport, to more effectively accommodate the way people move.
By constantly digging to find out the answers to ‘what if’ questions, designers can come up with creative and original solutions for commercial spaces. Approach your own project with the same attitude. What if your office wasn’t just a workspace – what if your office was a respite from the stress of your job? Or if your conference room was a place where collaboration could bring ideas to life? How can you design these spaces to help facilitate this?
Your office doesn’t have to be boring, impersonal, or distracting. No matter where you work – at home or in a commercial space – the way you design your environment can help you build a workplace that is both functional and comfortable. To us, the most important element of creating an efficient office is using trial and error to determine the right design solutions for each individual space.