How to balance functionality and aesthetics in your office design

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print

Interior design is a very structured process involving both coordination and creativity. It includes a vast scope of services that must ultimately balance the client’s wants and needs.

“Not all designs are driven by aesthetics; functionality of the space usually takes precedence because employees have to work in the office every day,” says Michelle Yurkovac, interior designer at SMC Consulting, LLC.

Smart Business spoke with Yurkovac about the design process and what is required to create an office that is aesthetically pleasing, yet practical and functional.

Why are employee needs central to design?

Most office designs seek to reflect the latest and greatest trends, which is perfectly fine. One of the designer’s goals should be to achieve the right look for his or her client. A good designer should consider how a person feels coming into the space every day.

However, it’s not always about the ‘wow’ factor. Just because something looks great or goes with the design scheme doesn’t mean it will be comfortable, functional or promote productivity. For example, sitting in an uncomfortable chair for eight hours reflects a bad design choice. Without considering functionality in the design process, the office space will only look good.

What is the key factor in the design process?

Programming, which is simply working to understand the challenges employees and companies are facing with their current space that led them to initiate a change, is essential for a great design. This allows the designer to connect with the employees and identify their needs.

Designing for employees’ needs in a typical office setting tends to be the driving factor in most modern designs. Following the latest trends can lead to breathtaking work environments, but can also create inefficiencies and hinder performance. It’s central to a designer’s job to determine what your current space lacks that could be improved to create a functional, comfortable and productive work environment.

Programming also helps a designer understand what employees do every day, because not everyone has the same tasks or requirements. For example, while many might like the idea of an open-plan environment, it could be beneficial for some and a disadvantage to others. Open-plan offices encourage teamwork, collaboration and creativity, and allow employees to share information faster and easier. Conversely, it may create a stressful environment or distract employees given the increase in noise and lack of privacy.

This is why it’s crucial to analyze employees’ existing space and surroundings to fully understand how they work on a daily basis. Expect the designer to do a lot of research to develop documents, drawings and diagrams that will outline the information that was collected from employees. This will serve as a great guide to customize the design according to each employee. At the end of the day, you want your success to be their satisfaction.

How does the design process work?

The design process should follow a very detailed approach to acquire both creative and technical solutions for a client. Some of those tasks include:

  • Researching and analyzing the client’s requirements/goals.
  • Developing conceptual drawings.
  • Selecting colors, finishes, furniture, equipment, etc.
  • Preparing project budgets and schedules.
  • Preparing construction documents.
  • Coordinating with other design professionals.
  • Providing contract documents and bids.
  • Observing and reporting the progression of the project.
  • Providing post-evaluation reports.

What should be gained from a new design?

There are plenty of measurable results that you should immediately notice after you have implemented a new design. The designer, through the programming process, should have identified any inefficiencies in your previous space and addressed those in the new design. You should see an increase in productivity as a result. Improved morale seems to be one of the first and most noticeable results that you should expect to see, and for many, is also the most rewarding.

Michelle Yurkovac is an interior designer at SMC Consulting, LLC. Reach her at (724) 728-8625 or [email protected].

Insights Facilities is brought to you by SMC Consulting, LLC