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Design Ideas That Rock

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Activity Planning

Great office design ideas in and of themselves are just design ideas. Irrespective of what most people want to hear, office design ideas that rock, requires a whole lot of planning. It doesn’t matter if your idea is for an office of one, or one thousand, you must Plan the space to meet the proper fit between the demands of activities and the architectural nature of the space that surrounds them.
Office activities take on many different forms and attributes. Some may require group collaboration while others demand more privacy. Some may require greater use of technology while others may work with more paper. Some spaces may require easy accessibility, while others require a more controlled environment. Some job tasks may have specific spatial requirements, while others are less demanding.

Making it Fit

Like a crime scene, the intended office space always leave clues for the designer as to how the office space can be best utilized. Like a map that divides geographical areas by highways and streets, the entries into an office space divide the office into certain zones by virtue of walkways. Some zones may be large enough to fit groups for an intended purpose, like meetings for a few, or an open workspace plan for many. Some job detail may require workers be exposed to natural light, while others may need to be in a more private and secluded space. Some spaces may have naturally appealing visual points of interest while others may be general and more functional. Listen to the space as it peaks.

 Matching Activities

It’s obvious that doorways create access points to any space. A path to and from doorways create natural walkways into and out of the space. The remaining spaces cordoned off by walkways, windows and architectural features we call workable zones.
By creating an understanding first, of the functions, job detail and what is needed to help each person perform their work better, you can begin matching activities to the cordoned off spaces that are best suited for the activities needed. By matching the design idea and the activity together, puts the overall design into perspective.

Making Small Spaces Work

Office space is sometimes at a premium, and generosity of real estate may not be in the cards. A design idea that incorporates close proximity of say; furniture and equipment when efficiency is important may be a useful idea. Another design idea could be putting people together in close proximity that requires a collaborative effort to get their work done effectively.
A practical idea that may work in some spaces where real estate is tight is to build furniture in place so as to create the exact size and fit for the space. Another formidable idea is the use of modular furniture that can be moveable and/or multi-purposed.
It’s been my experience that sometimes business owners carry this tight fit design strategy to the extreme, whereby it becomes impractical and/or uncomfortable to get work done effectively. This design strategy often creates unrest in the workspace and work results are proportionately affected.

Making Larger Spaces Work

Larger open spaces are more common in the office design arena. In these spaces the separation between workspace activity, and space itself is greater. The advantage in this office design strategy is flexibility and diversification.
Flexibility is important to most businesses because few companies can operated under the design philosophy that their business profile is written in stone, whereby there is no room for change for X amount of years. Things happen in business; companies grow, departments are disbanded and replaced by others, and products are discontinued and better one is created. When these things happen, often they affect the office structure and design.
Most offices with a generous space arrangement can accommodate many uses, especially when the office furniture being used is moveable and/or capable of being rearranged. The use of modular furniture, panel systems, or desking layouts can add a great deal of inherent flexibility in potential adaptability to arising circumstances.

Entry Ways and Perceptions

Just before someone opens the door to your office, they generally have no idea what to expect. Sometimes, given the outside parameters of your office space, one can deduce clues of expectation. As the door opens, their ability to focus on and perceive detail is limited to a fairly narrow cone of vision. In surveying their visual field, their eyes continually look for information to process and discover. As their eyes scan, their brain begins to put into perspective and interpret what their eyes are seeing. It is at this moment that they begin to create impressions about what they are seeing. Their brain, as we know it, begins to form associations with what they are seeing based upon previous; history, experiences, beliefs and knowledge. This all happens a few seconds.  
First impressions are everything; you only get one chance to create a first impression. Office design ideas can create random impressions on their own or they can be self-induced. Creating a controlled “impression environment” gives you the opportunity to create the impression you want rather than leaving it to random circumstances.
Choose a complete environment that will silently capture the essence of your company at a glance. Introduce your company to your visitor by way of; style, color, relevant art, reading materials, and a design that gives silent instructions as to what they should do (e.g., stop, enter, sit etc

Office Design Expectations

When we talk about of office design, people’s expectations often include the way an office looks, or the way it is laid out, or the color scheme employed. In reality office design encompasses all of the above and more. The key word in creating an office design that rocks is relationships. Like any good marriage, partnership, friendship, or “designer ship” (to coin a word) the foundation is laid by quality relationships. However in design, there are many elements, and to the degree that each elements relates to the other, establishes the effectiveness of the overall design.
Elements in effective office design include but is not limited to things like; size, color, materials to be used, quality of construction, activities to be performed, shapes, accessibilities, spatial proximity, placement and more. Each design element must effectively relate to each other in order to create the intended whole. Examples of these relationships may be; if the size of the workspace is not in relationship with the activities to be performed, it’s a bad design. If the quality of furniture construction does not relate to the intended lifespan specified by the budget, it’s a poor relationship. If the choice of color and placement is not in relationship with company culture, you will have competing relationships.

Designing Meeting Relationships

“None of us is as smart as all of us”, right? In most cases I would think that would be true. For that reason really effective companies hire the best people and create ways these people can feed off of each other’s smarts. Good office design will find the best ways to use physical elements to support interpersonal relationships.
Understanding certain key elements about meetings can go a long way in establishing beneficial support for the intended results. A few keys questions may be things like; How many, How often, How private, Where? Or what tools are needed to support the meeting style. Understanding the problems is often the dominant ingredient in designing ideas around effective relationships.

Design Ideas for Many

There are two approaches to designing open spaces for larger groups; 1) to begin with a predetermined amount of space and making it devisable by the amount of people required and 2) understanding the amount of real estate each person needs to do their job well, and seeking out a space that profiles the required needs. In either case, planning activities into the design profile is essential

Using Color in Office Design

As modern lifestyles become more and more prevalent in office culture, the more color is becoming an acceptable design element. Office lifestyle history has taught the world that conservative colors are professional and brighter or more dominant colors on the color wheel are less professional. In today’s offices, color is overcoming some of history’s pre-established mindsets.
Color can be used in your office to attract attention, group elements, indicate meaning, and enhance aesthetics. Color can make designs more visually interesting and can reinforce organizational meaning of your message. On the other hand using color improperly can throw a wrench in your whole message.
Using color is often something that scares people because they don’t know how to apply it successfully. A general rule of thumb when using dominates in color is; using less is more. The eye naturally narrows in on dominance. Therefore using color in small amounts or limiting color combinations to possibly four or using color to highlight features in the space that you want to stand out are good ways to use color successfully.

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