Posts tagged interiors and sources
How  Plug 'N' Play Offices Have Impacted Design Culture

While the tech field has undoubtedly changed the way in which we interact with our world, there is one field that has undergone a complete transformation in the last two years: the pre-built office. Eschewing the traditional blank-canvas method of leasing retail space, commercial landlords are turning to finished office spaces specifically for start-ups that would rather lease an office where set-up isn’t needed.

“They don’t want to do anything beyond installing furniture, telephones, and computers,” said Daniel Montroy, designer with Montroy Andersen DeMarco Architects. “They want their new space to be plug ‘n’ play.”

The presence of plug ‘n’ play spaces in commercial architecture is already widespread. The challenge of such spaces is that they must appeal to everyone. To satisfy whichever company may eventually settle into the space—particularly those in the “TAMI” industries: technology, advertising, media, and information services—it must incorporate ideal market positioning, technology, workplace organization, and aesthetic.


“These projects call for much more than design abilities… The designer has to think like a leasing agent and asset manager, and suggest the most beneficial solutions to the landlord—the best use of the budget, the most promising tenant segment to the target, the upgrades that will increase rent rolls.”

With so many start-up companies embracing less traditional workspaces, creating plug ‘n’ play offices can be costly. “They all want an open collaborative workspace with a loft aesthetic,” explained Montroy. While ductwork and mechanical systems could previously be hidden under a dropped ceiling, today’s open-ceiling buildings require that architects work alongside engineers to ensure that the exposed mechanical layout meshes harmoniously with interior elements.

According to CBRE’s Laura Bruno, real estate property manager of 180 Madison Avenue, this extra cost could be good for business. “The trend of the quality pre-built is here to stay,” she said, adding that it’s become something that tenants are learning to expect. In her experience, the market is currently split 50-50 between companies looking for a blank canvas versus a finished office space, suggesting the future may lead to a more holistic design approach.

Content originally published in Interiors & Sources, June 1, 2015.

5 Trends Shaping the Future

by Stephanie Clemons

The interior design industry is undergoing tremendous change at the moment. These developments are likely to have a substantial impact on how design is practiced three to five years from now… The American Society of Interior Designers released its 2015 Industry Outlook report, which includes information on a number of developing trends that are shaping the practice of interior design. The following are five that industry insiders are seeing as among the fastest moving at present:

The Changing Client. The nature of the designer-client relationship is continuing to change and at a faster rate. This is having a profound effect on both how designers practice and the services they provide. In the residential sector especially, clients are seeking a more participatory relationship with their designer, wanting to be more directly involved in design and purchasing decisions. In the commercial sector, clients are more frequently engaging designers as consultants or advisers, while outsourcing the implementation and installation of their designs to contractors, vendors, and computer graphics firms. At the same time, designers are increasingly serving as advocates for the benefits of good design, explaining to clients and the public how design can make spaces healthier, more functional, and more supportive of the activities for which they are built.

Healthy Behaviors. A profound change in recent years has been the shift within the built environment toward occupant well-being. The recently launched WELL Building Standard establishes for the first time performance requirements in seven areas relevant to occupant health—air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind. Using evidence-based design, urban planners, builders, and designers are creating spaces that promote wellness and healthy behaviors. We are also seeing more widespread recognition of the importance of biophilia and its impact on health and well-being.

Higher Sustainability Standards. One of the most transformative trends affecting interior design now and for at least the next few years is the rising bar of sustainability standards. The USGBC is currently rolling out updated standards, LEED v4, that will require architects, interior designers, and even property managers responsible for building performance to further minimize environmental footprints. Governments, too, are setting higher standards for energy and water conservation. New “smart building” systems are improving monitoring in all areas of the building. The definition of sustainability is expanding, too, to include occupant health and wellness, and social responsibility.

Holistic Design. The urgency to solve today’s complex building and design problems is making an interdisciplinary approach more important than ever. The design silo is being replaced with a systems thinking methodology that looks at the building as an interconnected, interactive whole. As disciplines become more specialized and continue to merge, we must have the various practitioners at the table—designers, mechanical and structural engineers, architects, facility managers, and more—to develop more holistic solutions.

Emerging Technologies. Technological innovation is transforming our profession, both how we design and what we design. Newer visualization and building information tools, such as 3D printing, BIM, and Revit, have taken planning and rendering to a whole new level. With the advent of the Internet of Everything, spaces will be teeming with “smart” devices that will control and monitor every aspect of its use. Advances in robotics are increasing the speed of construction, helping to reduce injuries and making possible the use of new building materials and methods.

Design is changing, and the future promises exciting possibilities for the profession.

Originally published in Interiors & Sources, July 1, 2015.

A New Kind Of Grind

imageIn last month’s issue of Interiors & Sources, one feature explored the question about where America’s independent laborers will be working as their numbers rise from roughly 25-30% to almost 50% of the workforce in the next few years. According to the Intuit 2020 report, both large corporations and small businesses will develop larger networks of contingent workers, “minimizing fixed labor costs and expanding the available talent pool.”

As independent workers “begin to account for a large chunk of the American workforce, they’re going to need a place to work that isn’t Starbucks… Enter the co-working space.” Gone is the simple co-working space with the requisite power access; this has been replaced with “full floors providing all the amenities one could ask for.”

Apart from the physical attributes of new co-workings offices, the intangible benefits are significant. The collaborative community that is housed within modern co-working spaces has rendered these offices “open-sourced knowledge banks… based on collaboration rather than self-interested competition. On a purely psychological level, co-working spaces are healthier, more productive, and more in line with a healthy society than traditional work spaces.”

Interiors & Sources learned three valuable lessons from visiting Grind and Fueled Collective, two co-working office space brands. The first lesson is that “designing a successful office share is about designing a culture as much as a space.” This idea takes shape in the offices’ “highly designed professional” aesthetics, which not only create a pleasing work environment, but also serve to “curate a lifestyle.” As a result, members are stimulated to cement both professional and personal connections with one another.

The second lesson, “let your end-user be their own layout specialist,” promotes flexibility and choice among members. By eliminating walls, barriers, and partitions, co-working spaces like Grind encourage “collaboration [through] proximity.” The office therefore “does with furniture what most people do with walls,” by allowing members to adjust the space and layout of the office to suit their own needs.

Finally, lesson three warns designers that “the end-user is [their] new competition.” Business owners and end-users have developed such a strong voice and influence on their work environments that they are “sometimes the ones designing the space themselves.” With the “market’s growth potential being an exponential one,” these lessons could prove very valuable for designers and manufactures alike.

Featured in this Month's Issue of Interiors & Sources

Featured in this month’s issue of Interiors & Sources

“Conference tables from Innovant are ideal for outfitting larger offices when combined with the company’s FORm_office system. From technology-rich touchdown tables to traditional conferencing, the Innovant conference line features a full complement of user-accessible services and advanced cable management tools. Access to power, data, video and USB ports is provided by flush-mount, pop-up and fully recessed ports in the center, and a variety of table sizes and finishes are available. ”

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