Time to Design a Workplace Refresh

Spring has sprung. Now is the perfect time of year to do a full office evaluation, de-clutter and refresh. Sound a bit daunting? It’s not. If you’re looking to liven up your workspace with the change of season, there are simple things you can do to create a warm, inviting space that inspires your employees and impresses your visitors without blowing through your design budget.

Here are three simple tips to keep in mind as you spring into workplace design planning:

A Little Change can go a Long Way

Ahead-of-the-curve workspaces go beyond being ‘functional’ and ‘clean’, they also capture the spirit of the company and its brand. By keeping the bare bones of the design space neutral in colour, you make room for swapping in seasonal quirky touches without looking excessive. The good news is, your seasonal changes don’t need to be significant, or expensive. A feature wall with your company logo is one place to start, or mix in some vintage touches, kitschy knick knack’s, something handmade or easily swapped accessories like throw pillows or planting pots (you do have plant life in your workspace right? Because that is the ultimate way to ‘spring your workplace’ to life!).

 Art – Trade in ‘Meh’ for ‘Wow’

Search online and download unique photos or images that create conversation and speak to your brand (or course by acquiring the appropriate licensing). Make the images your own by cropping, zooming, or adding custom effects. Once the images are matted and framed, they become fresh, unexpected and unique art installations that don’t break the bank. Blowing up two to three pieces will create an ambiance that livens up your workspace. By holding onto the frames, you can swap images and photos in and out according to seasonality – keeping your workplace crisp and on trend.

Remember the Fine Line of Being Too Trendy

Remember when fluro and neon were all the rage in design? If so, you probably also remember cringing at the thought a decade later. Instead of putting a heavy investment in design solutions that are incredibly fashionable in the moment, but might come with a short lifecycle, consider integrating materials that will carry you through not only multiple seasons – but multiple years. Materials like timber and laminate for instance create comfortable environments without threatening to come back and haunt your organization’s photo records years down the road.

When it comes to giving your workspace a spring refresh, it’s all about putting the right pieces, in the right places to create an environment that employees, executives and clients enjoy spending time in. A lively space awakens innovation and productivity, allowing your business to grow right along with the season.

 

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Breathe Easier With Low Toxicity Furniture

Creating a sustainable workplace has become vital to the reputation of an organisation, it’s almost no longer a choice, but instead, a necessity. With an overwhelming call across the globe to go green, it’s simply bad for business not to integrate sustainable initiatives into organisational planning.

For interior designers, project managers or business leaders looking to help drive sustainability in the workplace, a good (and healthy) place to start, is with low emissions furniture.

Consider the workplace; the actual size of the space, the number of employees, every piece of furniture needed to promote productivity and comfortability while also keeping a company’s brand in mind for stylistic purposes. Each piece of furniture integrated, will release substances into the air. While this isn’t necessarily something to fear, as almost everything does this, synthetic materials, or those treated with synthetic substances can be especially harmful as they contain Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). What are VOCs? We’re glad you asked!

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large family of chemicals that contain carbon and hydrogen. They can be released into indoor air from a number of sources, including workplace furniture (flame retardants and formaldehyde being quite common). While some VOCs are more toxic than others, the health risks associated will depend on the levels you are exposed to, the length of time you are exposed, and your individual sensitivity to toxicity. Because your risk increases with exposure, and employees are logging more hours in the office than ever – introducing low emissions (or low VOC) furniture into the workplace just makes sense on so many levels.

Whether you work in an office, shop, run your own business or manage a major corporation, taking care of the environment is easier than you think. Creating a more sustainable workplace by providing optimal air quality can result in a healthier and more productive place to work, a lighter ecological footprint, a boost in staff morale and increased growth for your bottom line.

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Introducing the King Dome

We recently introduced the King Dome light designed by Dowel Jones, with YellowTrace, Domus, Trendland, SohoMod and StudioHome featuring the lights.

King Dome is a series of simple spun metal and rod lights available in 3 variations. Versatile in it’s application, King Dome focuses on silhouette and intersecting line with the thin metal structure creating grid like formations within spaces.

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For more information, get in touch by email.

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About the Designers

Dowel Jones is a young design studio operating out of Melbourne, Australia. Started in 2013 by Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch as an extension of LAB DE STU, an award-winning independent Melbourne based design collective founded in 2011.

Keep an eye on this space for an upcoming interview with Dowel Jones!

Five Quick Ways to Make Your Workspace More Ergonomic!

Considering all the hours you spend logging in at the workplace, it’s easy to forget about your body’s needs when you’re juggling multiple deadlines and projects — that is of course until your body sends you a painful reminder. Save yourself some strain with these quick ergonomically friendly tips! This can also help designers in what to consider when building the perfect workplace for your client.

 

1. Take a step back. It’s great that you’re dedicated to meeting those deadlines, but unless something is due right this second, walk away from your workstation every few hours, even if it’s only for a brief walk about the office. Stretching your body is the only thing that can combat the health issues that arise from prolonged sitting.

2. Get aligned with your computer. Keeping your elbows bent near 90 degrees, with your mouse comfortably within reach of a keyboard. Oh, and stop slouching (you probably just caught yourself doing it while you read this)!

3. Keep your chin up – literally! Elevate your monitor to eye level, approximately 18-28 inches from your face. Your neck will thank you for it.

4. Use a sit – stand workstation. On top of making sure you’re decked with a good ergonomic office chair, consider a sit-stand workstation, which will allow you to take stretch breaks throughout the day, elongating your spine and promoting blood flow.

5. Adjust that chair. Your chair is your best ergonomic friend. It supports your back, your bottom, and your posture. Consider the following:

Shape. To help maintain a healthy posture, choose a chair that offers good lumbar support.

Length. When you sit, there should be a little space between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees. Adjust the seat depth to be able to sit accordingly.

Height. When you are sitting, your feet should be on the floor in front of you, and your thighs should be slightly below your hips. Shorter folks might need to use a footrest, while taller people might need to adjust the height of their desks.

 

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Small Details To Tie Your Office Design Together

It can be easy to forget about the little things in interior design like power outlet covers and door knobs. We rarely give it a second thought but that gives it all the more reason to catch our attention when it’s out of the ordinary. For some, even the furniture isn’t as planned out as it should be. It’s the details that make an office stand out from boring ones. Take the opportunity to display your great attention to detail and impress your clients by putting a little more emphasis on often overlooked furnishings.

So what things should be on your checklist so that you don’t forget them? Furniture is definitely at the top of the list. However, a lot of offices drop the ball in choosing furniture for the office. Everything, from the arms to the upholstery can bring all of the design elements together.

Wooden accents add a natural cozy look. You can bring a little bit of nature inside of the office in some fairly simple ways. Wooden bookshelves or chairs are great to add a bit of nature. Reclaimed wood paneling and furniture with wood accents are good ways to incorporate wood in the office.

Other details to consider are the small pieces that bring everything together. Matching power outlet covers and door hinges to light switch covers and door knobs can really bring everything together.  Show off your attention to detail by focusing on the little things that bring your office design together. Putting more emphasis on the finishing pieces can make a huge difference in the way your office looks. Impress more clients with the look that these little changes can make.

 

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How Can You Get The Most Out of Your Office?

With rising real estate costs in CBDs like Sydney, Melbourne and many other international cities around the world, designers and staff are increasingly challenged with doing the most with the least amount of space. How do we maximize the limited space that we have to work with?

When you’ve got a small office, you’ve got to be smarter in the way that you operate. It’s easy to let the clutter build up and make the office feel tiny. This is where a few simple changes can make a huge difference.

Organization is much more important when space is limited. We have to make it much easier to file or discard things as soon as they hit the desk. Finding a good system for putting away paperwork and not allowing clutter to pile up on desks is essential for keeping the office feeling open. Be sure to discard things that aren’t needed as well.

Vertical space can be a savior when you’re limited. Using vertical space for storage can limit the use of square footage thus giving more space for other furniture and activities. Tall filing cabinets work well, and shelves above your workspace keep from using precious floor space.  Mobile and multipurpose furniture can expand a small space by function.

It’s important to not use brightly colored furniture in such small spaces. Bright colors make objects appear larger than what they are. Conversely, darker colored walls will make a room feel more closed in. So use darker furniture and brighter colored walls to visually maximize the space that you have. The options are endless with the ability to customise furniture colours with upholstery, powder coating and staining.

Working with small spaces can be incredibly challenging. But with a little bit of planning you can make the most of just a little bit of real estate. Organization and some policies on clutter can be game changers. Add in some design elements and you can have a very impressive office.

 

Prefabricated Office Spaces Make Room for Growth

In today’s increasingly complex, diverse, mobile and environmentally conscious business landscape, organizations are facing increased pressure to curate office spaces designed to meet the diverse needs and values of their employees.

Prefabricated office spaces show great promise as they are easily customized to be any size, allow for multiple stories and often integrate modular device and furniture solutions that promote collaboration and increased productivity. Prefabricated office spaces also reduce waste and boost sustainability as they are often built using several recycled products and materials.

To keep your modular workplace ahead of the curve, you can also request the integration of Universal Design strategies to ensure all employees, regardless of age, size, cultural identity, ability or disability are exposed to inclusive spaces and products that promote accessibility, safety and convenience.

The process of introducing a prefabricated workspace is fast and simple. Once a prefabricated building is complete and shipped to your location, it is set into place and connected to the foundation. Utilities are connected and your choice of exterior finishes are then added. The resulting prefabricated workspace is environmentally friendly, with the all the same architectural aesthetics you would expect from a conventional building. To accommodate the needs of a thriving business, prefabricated modules can be expanded or minimized at minimal expense.

With a significantly reduced time to occupancy, your business can start driving growth and optimizing your bottom line sooner.

While prefabricated workspaces may not suit the needs of every business or organization, the cost-savings, sustainable practices and inclusivity they provide – make them a strong consideration for the future of your workplace.

 

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Universal Design – Building for Everyone

While the concept of Universal Design is relatively new to the world of architecture and design, there is an increasing demand for more inclusive spaces and products that promote accessibility, safety and convenience for an increasingly diverse population and their wide range of needs.

The expectation to ensure all people, regardless of age, size, cultural identity, ability or disability are treated equally in building environments is quickly becoming the norm across the globe. For this reason, project managers should consider integrating Universal Design strategies into their plans regarding products and spaces.

Architects, product designers, engineers and environmental designers can become true innovators in optimizing Universal Design integration by considering the following:

1. Body fit: Designing spaces and utilizing products that accommodate a wide range of body sizes and abilities

2. Comfort: Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function

3. Awareness: Ensuring that information regarding use of integrated Universal Design strategies is easily perceived

4. Understanding: Making methods of operation and use intuitive and clear

5. Wellness: Contributing to promotion of health on a holistic level, avoidance of disease, and prevention of injury

6. Social integration: Treating all groups with dignity and respect

7. Personalisation: Incorporating opportunities for choice and expression of individual preferences

8. Cultural appropriateness: Respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project

By implementing Universal Design into new and existing building projects, we are truly designing for this diversity – a philosophy that, when applied, benefits everyone!

 

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A Learning Lesson in Classroom Design

Improving educational outcome in the post-secondary world is a universal goal for educational institutions. How to go about doing so remains the focus of significant research and debate. An often overlooked factor, is the effect classroom design can play in optimizing student learning and engagement. In fact, several noteworthy studies have confirmed that thoughtfully and intentionally designed post-secondary spaces can affect retention, attention, motivation, learning and academic achievement. Here are three simple classroom design tips that promote and enhance active learning.

 

1. Integrate flexibility – modular furniture, technological devices and whiteboards will make room for collaborative project engagement and brainstorming sessions.

 

2. Abandon the ‘front of the room’ – utilize the middle part of the classroom as the primary “teaching corridor,” and leave the wings as study areas for students that can also be walled off with movable screens. This approach will encourage active involvement and shared communication.

 

3. Let the light in – Natural light in the classroom can improve performance. One study of 2,000 classrooms found those with more natural daylight performed higher on than those who had less. While installing new windows across campus could be a costly endeavor, swapping up spaces with windows that weren’t originally used for learning purposes (office spaces or lecture halls for example) could be a viable solution.

 

Generation Z will be the next wave of post-secondary students. In a constantly shifting technological and educational landscape, it’s crucial to design and integrate active learning spaces that inspire the innovators of tomorrow.

 

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Going Green is Good for Business

Integrating environmentally friendly initiatives into the workplace may seem like a simple and trendy public relations move. In truth, going green brings a wide variety of benefits for business owners. Applying green processes to the workplace positions participating businesses as leaders of social change while allowing for significant financial growth. Some benefits include:

Tax Advantages

Going green has many practical advantages. In some countries, tax credits and incentives are available. Many businesses are eligible for a sales tax exemption or corporate income tax credit for using solar energy systems, equipment, machinery and other renewable energy technologies.

Reduced Waste

Sustainable utilization can improve the overall efficiency of a business. For example, turning off lights in vacant offices can save energy, reduce utility costs and increase your bottom line. Printing less cuts down on paper usage and refilling ink cartridges instead of throwing them away can be another money-saving practice while also reducing the amount of plastic thrown away from the cartridge and packaging.

Improved Workplace

 Providing green options within a company can help employees who suffer from respiratory and other health-related conditions, because green products contain fewer chemicals that are connected to physical problems. A healthier workplace reduces sick days, in turn increasing productivity and overall output.

Environmental Standards to Increase Your Bottom Line

Businesses or organizations looking to stand apart, might want to consider attaining ISO certification. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a comprehensive series of standards including a family of standards that provide practical tools for companies and organizations looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.

Australian consumers seeking out sustainable options will be especially interested in Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certified products. Interior designers and project managers looking to introduce new design and furniture solutions into the workplace, would set themselves apart as sustainability champions.

 

With green initiatives increasing in popularity, economic studies have shown that companies utilizing green technology and selling green products are seeing an increase in profit. With environmentally building design and operation, success is assured as the workplace becomes both practical and profitable. The numbers are in and the Return on Investment (ROI) of prioritizing sustainability in the workplace – are sure to drive growth that’s very, very green!

 

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