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Sandra Fox, Founder, President, and Design Dector at Sensory Six, was recently interviewed by Susan Campbell at the Saratoga Springs Business Journal for an article in the September issue. We thought you might enjoy the questions and answers about commercial interior design that appeared in the story.
What are some specific trends in corporate interior design and redesign? Decor? Materials? Styles? Colors? Textures? Sustainability? Etc.
Corporations also want designs that improve employee performance and enhance their well-being. For example, to advance morale and collaboration, corporate spaces are being designed for comfort with a warm and welcoming aesthetic and materials that give the feeling of home. Color palettes that are trending vary from soft hues to bold and dramatic shades as well as precious stone palettes and matte finishes.
These colors are often accented with natural elements like organic woodwork, lights, plants, flowers and green walls. The result is inspirational spaces that focus on wellness and environmental design, epitomized by LEED, WELL Building Standard, FitWel, and the Living Building Challenge. In our view, this is a vital trend because it creates a positive impact on both the occupants and natural systems that interact with buildings.
How has the nature of client needs or requests changed since the pandemic?
Without a doubt, the number one priority for our commercial clients is safety and wellness. Whether their buildings are used for offices, hospitality/retail or multi-use, they need materials, space configuration and technology that keep employees and customers healthy. This is not a new request for Sensory Six since we have always focused on design that promotes wellness. However, we have have upped our game considerably with the COVID-19 pandemic to add resources and products to address significant increases in client requests.
For example, we are focusing efforts on air hygiene to help dilute human-to-human passage of airborne elements. This means using the latest air filtration systems as well as allowing outside air to enter through façades and windows. Additionally, some of our designs are taking a more horizontal zone approach to air distribution versus the typical vertical distribution because it can be more effective in controlling, monitoring and distributing air.
Keeping surfaces germ-free through easy cleaning is another client need. For our commercial clients, we are recommending more smooth materials versus textured or porous ones. Additionally we are designing with new materials that prevent organisms from adhering to them, like those that mimic sharkskin.
Additionally, we are incorporating technology such as sensor-activated lights, elevators, doors, and bath fixtures that allow people to avoid touching surface. Disinfecting UV lights that clean entire rooms overnight and negative pressure rooms like those used in medical facilities are also options to contain germs.
The Nur ceiling light fitted with Integralis technology
Do you believe any changes that may be being made today in commercial, retail or office spaces, such as those to make them more safe or healthy, will have lasting effects?
Yes, I believe that changes being made today as a result of the pandemic will permanently change design for commercial spaces. Employers and business owners now have a heightened awareness of wellness, and this has placed the safety and well being of their customers and employees at the forefront of their thinking. If there is a silver lining to these very difficult times, it is adding wellness as a core design requirement along with aesthetics and functionality.
Would you say the health, comfort, functionality, flow or style of workspaces is top of mind for businesses today and if not, what is?
Business owners are still trying to figure out how they will function in their spaces, what their needs will be post pandemic and what their operations will look like in the future. The shift to remote operations and need for social distancing has forever changed companies, and I believe commercial design will be an evolving process for some time to come.
That said, I do not believe that aesthetics will ever stop being top of mind, either. Beautiful spaces make people feel good and work harder. Because planning can be very challenging during these times, flexibility in space is also top of mind. Additionally, technology is changing the way we design and use spaces and that will only increase. So I would add aesthetics, flexibility and technology usage to the list of health, comfort, function, flow and style. The world of commercial interior design has gotten more demanding and interesting. Frankly, we’re loving it at Sensory Six. Nothing inspires us more than a good challenge.
We are here to help. We offer expert advice, great designs, and strong supplier relationships to help you create commercial spaces that will provide positive employee and customer experiences. Give us a call.