Shop interiors needs to start changing to engage shoppers.
I guess often you think of interiors as simply nice furniture arrangement and choice of colours and fabrics or a distinctive branded look but there’s clearly a lot of psychology, strategy and depth of knowledge with suppliers and new industry innovations that are considered.
For sure, it’s a lifetime of experience enabling me the advantage of many of the answers already programmed and accessible by clients. Successful commercial interiors are the result of a unique and sensitive response to location, architecture, and client vision. Though philosophically open to new influences in technology and sustainability, it is important to push the aesthetic envelope to give our projects the strong, inspired identities. Strong working relationships with environmentally responsible suppliers are invaluable and the new products being introduced to the market are more innovative than ever before. We invigorate, brand and transform commercial spaces to help our clients improve their interiors to meet their business developing requirements and I love to be a part of them realizing this value.
With another business we designed with the fluidity of their client base in mind. We designed a flexibility into the space, so if the business lost its largest client and the staff dropped by 50% the design allowed for this and on the other hand if the business increased its numbers by 50% we had a strategy in place to accommodate different staff levels at different times without the office being overcrowded or feeling half empt
Can you tell me more about the impact of your design work on different business’s for whom you have designed spaces for?
Absolutely, the results stories are that which make this work so rewarding. The passion I feel for the impact that interior changes can make to a business ensures that I genuinely love my job and get a real kick out of working with my clients.
In one office I worked on, the staff’s attitude towards their space changed dramatically after I completed the redesign. They were no longer ashamed of their office and started inviting clients to meet them in their offices. This saved them travelling time, hotel costs, car running costs and man hours for the internal staff to meet clients away from the office. The clients response was also recongisable as they knew there was a client suite for them to use with great coffee, wifi to plug their laptops in, a landline, a trade resource library and reception staff who could assist with any requirements. In return this company became an extension of their clients business and their relationships were more genuine and regular with more loyalty and dependence on their business, The change to the space changed the culture of that business entirely.
The ability for a business to market incredible looking visual representation of their office’s lends to the credibility of the business and inspires new clients to place their trust with that business. And I always love to see the effect a smarter space has on the staff because they genuinely up the standard of their physical appearance to match a space. You genuinely see new hairstyles, new clothes and new attitudes, it’s brilliant.
I think it’s important to realize that interior design is not just about spending money, it’s more about strategy. There have been times when rearranging, a bit of paint and the perfect piece of image defining furniture have been all that the space needed. Again, that scenario is what I speak of as a trip to the interior doctor. Spend a hour or two with me, let me design a price a strategy and the fresh energy which flows through your business is invaluable.
A client had a fantastic old cinema building that they wanted for an office. Once the design brief was established, the business secured a massive project and the staff/team doubled in size, and the cinema space became too small for the business but they loved the space. With the proper interior consultancy we understood the business enough to adapt the design to allow them to accommodate the size of their increased team. As we design with job roles, teams and outcomes we designed the space to produce outcomes. If you think each staff member only worked a standard 40 hours a week and so typically 2 days of a week, holidays, sick days and working from home or visiting other offices. The teams committed to working in a fluid environment. Some roles required nesting while most roles where happy to see the whole office environment as their nest. People discovered that it created a fun way to work, as lots of different spaces where provided. This meant that staff became more responsible and independent and responsible for their actions and times. The team also discovered on days where they needed to be by themselves and concentrate they could, and when they wanted thinking time there were perfect places to sit or stand or just to read. Once the team realised the benefits of the new way of working they found work became enjoyable as it was easy to be productive, as files were placed where they needed them. It’s all in the detail and strategy.
So do clients hand everything over to you or do they remain heavily involved? Are you their design conduit to achieve what they have in their mind or do you visually create what they want to achieve as a more functional or financial type goal?
I find that each of my clients know what they want in some or multiple ways and we begin with a great deal of dialogue where I tease out the answers I need so that I can deliver for them what’s in their head or their heart.
Some articulate their vision perfectly but do not have the broad knowledge of suppliers, regulatory restrictions or requirements or an idea of the costs and the essential tricks to reduce those costs and ensure a result to a deadline.
Other clients know their own business instinctively but do not have a clear vision for communicating their purpose visually and I can present them visual scenario’s to inspire as many people know what they like once they see it.
Others simply know the difference they require to their bottom line and have admitted that if their visuals relationship that staff and clients have with their business space will bring the business more revenue and loyalty then they’re prepared to make a strategic investment and look to see the results on their P&L statements for the new year.
Whatever the scenario, over the years I have developed an understanding as to how I can ascertain what a client wants and needs and how to deliver this and all the advantages that my knowledge base and experience allows to save them money, provide value and improve the experience.
Understanding and interpreting a clients needs has become somewhat of an artform and once the client has had a taste and realized the direct improvement to their business they also get to know with greater clarity, the parts of the overall experience they want direct involvement with and the body of work they prefer to hand over to my expertise.
Can you be more specific about the knowledge base you draw on to contribute to your part in that equation, in addition to a talent and flare for the look of a space?
The role I play in this ‘define’ and ‘create’ type interior evolution, is to use the visual and functional power of an interior to embody the space with the energy required to directly energise the business.
Ergonomic’s is a knowledge base drawn upon to ensure the space flows for it’s users and encourages the behaviour’s relevant to that space. Creating the space for the business to thrive with increased efficiency and less frustration. Where the business’s directors are comfortable, I will often consult with all the staff in their company to try to intimately understand how the business could improve their personal spaces ergonomic’s to motivate them and increase their productivity and in turn this has often led to a distinct improvement in the staff performance in the business.
The sustainability or ‘green’ attributes of the design encompasses a whole new depth of knowledge from the different types of lighting used in the space to ensuring that the lifecycle of the products used are a fit with the ethics of the business. You see now that many business’s are really caring about their ethical associations. You have chocolate and cosmetic companies who are completely changing the ingredients of their product to stop the use of palm oil to reinforce their commitment to protect our rainforests and this corporate responsibility applies in every area of the interior of a space. We ensure our business’s interiors are created with integrity and all environmental values considered.
You mentioned ‘desired change’ just earlier. Is that what Interior design is about for you? A clients desire to achieve change or improvement in their business?
My clients are incredibly varied, from boutique hotel developments and re-fits to offices for firms such as financial consultancies or the corporate offices for an international brewery. I’ve worked on large retail complex’s to the more intimate individual shop fit outs and on doctors offices to maternity wards.
You could say the one thing that all clients have in common is the desire for ‘change’ but I think I prefer expressions such as ‘define’, ‘evolve’, ‘adapt’, ‘create’, ‘connect’, etc…
In truth sometimes my work is very functional. The depth of knowledge in current regulatory requirements for the site, preventative design requirements, essential functionality requirements, space flexibility requirements and often requirements that exceed the budget and require a strategy to achieve both the result regardless.
Sometimes that’s like the birth of something, a true creation from start to finish where you’re changing a blank canvas into a powerful tool. In this situation, the value engineered by the interior designer forming working relationships with the project team to optimise the design has significantly cut costs and created a much more functional space for the client. When the Client, Architect, QS, structural engineer, M+E (HVAC), Product Suppliers and Interior Designers work together simultaneously, clients always get the best result.