Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Color As A Communication Tool for Coworking Spaces

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Article by Anna Cashman via DeskMag

Color is a communication tool which also works for coworking spaces. It can stimulate, calm, appetize or depress. Color and decor play important functions in creating an environment conducive to work, but also conducive to communication, creativity and positive thinking. Investing time and energy into the design a workspace that inspires these qualities – whether space operators go it alone or enlist the help of their members – is time well spent.

The research into the effects of color on psychology is not extensive or indeed conclusive, though there are many theories that have infiltrated common design practice according to their emotional properties and symbolism. Naturally, depending on the tint or shade – and indeed the personality – these psychological responses are heightened or muted. But here are the most common associations of the primary and secondary colors, and where and why you should use them.

Red is associated with energy and intensity. It is the color the eye notices first in the color wheel: it seems to jump out at us. For this reason, red makes time appear to pass slower since we are highly aware of our environment. It is also physical stimulant, increasing pulse rate and adrenaline. Moreover, some studies suggest that red impairs performance. For these reasons, avoid overusing primary reds in work areas, as it can be oppressive and disquieting.

Red can however help add warmth to a room and give it depth, for example with a feature wall or soft furnishings. When using red as a highlight, however, ensure that attention to detail is paid: since it the the color the eye is drawn to first, any flaws in paintwork or upholstery will stick out like a sore thumb.

When using red, it should be reserved it for large open areas only, and used sparingly. Aim for burgundies or muted reds, like the color of brick. Red is a suitable color for kitchens and dining areas, as it is an appetite stimulant – consider fast food logos, most of which include red.

While still promoting excitement and vibrancy,orangeis less shocking than red, and can be used more liberally in a workspace without overbearing the senses. Orange is a good color to use if your space is feeling lackluster, as it uplifts and energizes.

Blue is at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum than red. People are said to be more productive in blue rooms, though it is not a color that inspires excitement or creativity, and can make a room feel cold and uninviting.

In addition, blues, along with grays, are common hues used to decorate traditional offices. Typically, this is the image coworking spaces try to avoid. If using blue in a workspace, consider using a complementary color scheme and break it up with warmer tones. Avoid using blue in the kitchen and dining areas because it is an appetite suppressant; the rarity of blue-colored foods in nature reflects this.

Green is the color of nature and is said to calm and relax. It also relieves tired eyes, and a pale tint especially improves reading ability, so is a good choice for all sized workspaces. Green is associated with eco-friendly products.

Brown is the second color associated with nature. It inspires feelings of trust and fidelity, and makes a space feel comfortable and inviting. For this reason, having brown upholstery, a chocolate colored wall, or wooden furniture can be a good addition to a meeting room. Using raw wood in a large, open workspace is an easy way to create a feeling of comfort.

White invokes a sense of spaciousness. It is neutral, so goes with most things, though if not broken up with other colors, can be sterile and bland. Apart from walls, using white to furnish requires time and money, since it dirties quickly, especially in a high-traffic environment like a coworking space. In some cultures white is the color of mourning.

There is often a compulsion to try to make small, darker spaces appear larger by painting them white. An alternative is to embrace their qualities, and use these rooms to create cozy, warm and inviting atmospheres. Use browns, burgundies and bronzes to create a sophisticated and comfortable spaces, perfect for informal meeting rooms or chill-out areas.

While the color yellow in the western world is considered happy, it actually increases impatience and irrationality. Yellow is also the most difficult color to look at and causes strain to the eyes. Avoid overusing yellow in a workspace for this reason. Golds, on the other hand, are easier on the eye, and are a good way to add an element of finesse and luxury to a workspace without spending big. Think cornices and skirting boards.

Black absorbs all light in the color spectrum, so avoid using blocks of black which can be oppressive. It is also used for mourning in Western cultures, so can drain positivity from a space. On the other hand, black is considered a technical color, and so can be a good choice for hackerspaces and tech-oriented coworking spaces. It also denotes power and control. A few black cushions can give your space a strong and empowered feeling.

Pale purples, like lavenders and lilacs, are calming and relaxing, and do not promote enthusiasm or creativity, so should be avoided in areas dedicated to work. Royal purple, however, symbolises royalty (no surprises there) and wealth. As it is rarely found in nature and can appear artificial.

Despite the fact that up until the mid-20th century pink – as it is a tint of red – was a masculine color, modern associations link it to femininity. Pink is believed to have a calming effect, and many refer to the instance of pink-painted prison cells reducing aggression of inmates. This belief is contested, but given its association with femininity, it does not lend itself to a coworking space’s décor.


Whatever colors you choose

Decorate your space from light to dark, vertically – like in nature. A ceiling that is darker than the floor creates uneasiness and is inharmonious.

If you have a statement piece of furniture or a sizeable work of art that you know will adorn your space, consider these when picking color schemes and soft furnishings. Take our colors from the piece, or use complementary colors to accentuate it.

Existing interior features

Work with the existing interior, and highlight interesting features. Much like artwork, columns, external gas and water pipes and stucco are interesting to look at and give a room texture. Use contrasting colors to highlight them, or paint them to help pick up other features in the room. These features are good ways to add warm hues – reds, oranges, and yellows – to a room without being over the top.

Temperature control

If your space has an abundance of natural afternoon sunlight, including orange in your color scheme is probably not a good move. Likewise, a dark room shouldn’t be painted blue. Colors change the perception of temperature, and so to  help reduce the amount spent on air conditioning and heating, use certain color schemes to create a feeling of warmth or coolness.


Put thought into your WCs. Coworkers will appreciate a well-kept and attractive bathroom, both for themselves and any clients they receive. Feature walls in patterned wallpaper or bold colors can work well in these areas.


Decorating doesn’t stop inside – don’t forget about your building’s façade: it’s the first impression that anyone has of your space. A bright cobalt blue building like 654 Work Cottage in Grand Rapids, Michigan may be just what the doctor ordered to draw attention to your space and encourage people to find out more about coworking.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean a paint job. There are many creative ways to create a block of color on a façade, like in Tokyo.

Paying attention to décor is of the utmost importance for a coworking space. The more comfortable and relaxed, yet motivated and enthusiastic they feel, the more likely they are to spend time in a space.


Thursday, July 28th, 2011


With a few simple ground rules, collaboration between designers and other professionals can produce remarkable results.

If there is one word that clearly defines the future of the interiors profession, it might be “collaboration.” Boundaries that once compartmentalized all design professionals in neat boxes of disciplines are being systematically erased by technology, integration and globalization. 

With ever-increasing complexities in design projects and higher performance expectations from owners and clients, the future is clear: No man or woman can be an island in the design profession. Most designers will acknowledge that acting together in teams can increase the success of problem solving, whether by reducing project costs or increasing building efficiencies. But collaboration is the next rung up the ladder, and such deeper thinking can give birth to unique approaches and concepts.

Collaboration is much more than the intersection of shared goals and objectives. If approached with mutual intent, it can be a process that creates a communal mind, bringing a group together to develop solutions in spite of diverse points of view, ranges of professional experiences and the promotion of individual advocacies. At the highest levels of the collaborative process, design teams may even consider untested possibilities that foster unexpected, innovative and novel outcomes.

Achieving a high level of successful collaboration requires a few key steps, and it starts with a clear agenda and an articulation of the desired outcomes. Taking the time to fully define client criteria, outline the project requirements and assess any circumstances is essential to achieving objectives. But avoid being too prescriptive in the first conversations with the team so participants feel open to freely contribute.

In his book, Collaboration, Morten T. Hansen, a management professor at the UC Berkley School of Information, expresses the importance of determining what is ultimately desired in the collaborative process, writing, “In their eagerness to get people to tear down silos and work in cross-unit teams, leaders often forget that the goal of collaboration is not collaboration itself, but results.”

The makeup of the team is also vital to achieving success at higher levels. The more difficult or complex the design problem, the more diverse in skills, expertise and disciplines the team should be. Having a facilitator with authority can also get the team focused on desired outcomes and keep everyone from getting bogged down in trying to solve every small detail. Leave the minute detailing to others or consider tasking small breakout groups with solving one part or component.

Whether the collaboration is in person with the use of white board and markers or as a virtual group over the Internet, there needs to be a high level of trust. Nothing will deter collaboration more than a lack of trust and accountability, so it is important to establish an atmosphere of goodwill, honesty and transparency.

Another step to creating successful collaborative outcomes is to agree in advance what the primary decision-making process will be. Will it be by majority, unanimous, recommendations that are then delegated to others or by group consensus? And what should occur when the team reaches an impasse? Establishing rules will be easier if all agree up front how roadblocks are to be handled.

If there is a deadline for certain important or critical decisions, make sure that it is near the top of the agenda. Have ample and sufficient time set aside to allow everyone to contribute their concepts freely and openly. The vetting of collaborative ideas permits a concept to grow and evolve into appropriate solutions, so be realistic about the amount of time and effort that may be needed.

Finally, ensure there is a methodology for evaluating the collaborative process. This helps the participants to know how well they did, whether some or all of the strategies will be implemented and who is to be responsible for the implementation.

Andrew Carnegie defined collaboration exceedingly well when he said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows uncommon results.”

The collaborative design process can be used for projects of varying shapes and sizes. It can even be applied to address social and environmental challenges. Imagine the opportunity to collaborate with interdisciplinary groups to raise the quality of lives around the planet. Whether designing affordable housing, creating retreats for at-risk youths or working with the disadvantaged to ensure safe, secure environments, the process of collaborative design can lead to solutions to such complex global problems. Remarkable things can and do happen when we collaborate.

Source:  Interiors and Sources – April 2011


Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Proper daylight harvesting can reduce the need for electrically-supplied lighting during daytime periods 

 Many design professionals have adopted daylight integration strategies within existing buildings and new construction projects, thanks to the acceptance in recent years of sustainable building principles and the recognized benefits to occupants.

Design teams are now creating and retrofitting facilities that effectively introduce daylight where the occupants need it most. But while bringing more natural light in is encouraging, there is such a thing as too much daylight, and the best way to achieve daylight integration is through a balanced approach.

 A Balanced Approach
You can introduce natural daylight into a building through a variety of means—each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common daylight delivery strategies include side-lighting (vertical glazing), top-lighting (skylights, roof monitors and tubular daylight delivery systems) and directional daylight systems (prismatic or sunlight concentrating systems). Developing a balanced day lighting design will most likely include more than one (or all) of these common delivery strategies.

 Balanced daylight design is a selective and methodical approach that delivers more light consistently throughout a space with lower lighting level fluctuations during the day and the seasons. Good daylight design can achieve lighting power reduction from 30 to 65 percent. To know which strategies will best serve your project, examine how well your space has access to unobstructed exposure to the sky. While daylight levels change constantly, the sky—excluding direct exposure to the sun—provides the most consistent indirect daylight, which is easier to design for.

Gain a better understanding of how daylight may be introduced within your project by performing an assessment of the surrounding built environment. Study how the sun moves across the sky during the day. Evaluate seasonal weather and local climate patterns (cloudiness in winter, etc.). If your region is cloudy a majority of the time, your space will receive a lower amount of overall daylight, so your strategies may need to be more aggressive.

 Surface Finishes
Daylight quality is a direct product of how light is reflected off surfaces. That’s why both interior and exterior surfaces play such a big role in how we interpret if a space is well-lit. Surface color and texture greatly influence how light is distributed throughout a space. Higher reflective surfaces reflect light so the space appears brighter, while darker surfaces absorb more light and may make a space seem poorly lit.

 Strategically locate higher reflective surfaces within a room to best enhance daylight distribution. For example, vertical surfaces adjacent to a window typically should be lighter in color so the eye is capable of adjusting between the lighting levels coming through the window and other surfaces. Typically the first 15 feet of the wall surfaces perpendicular to the side lighting or top lighting glazing surface should be light colored. Be mindful that lighter colored flooring or polished surfaces, such as marble, may cause unwanted glare problems due to the mirror-like surface. Try to find wall finishes with reflectance values of 55 percent or higher. Keep in mind that wood surfaces, even ash and pine, will have reflectance below 50 percent and will get darker as the wood patinas over time.

 HVAC Systems
Proper daylight harvesting can reduce the need for electrically-supplied lighting during daytime periods, which will also reduce a space’s cooling demand. However, you need to select the right strategy to realize those interactive savings. For instance, a new skylight may bring in more light, but if the location and size are not chosen properly the skylight may be a source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Factor in all of the effects your daylight strategy will have on the performance of the space’s HVAC system when determining the overall savings of that strategy. In existing facilities, the introduction of additional day lighting strategies may put unwanted burdens on existing HVAC systems, causing higher energy and maintenance costs.

 When installing a daylight system, consider how the strategy can satisfy multiple purposes and positively influence building performance. Leverage your client’s capital investment so that the daylight system will also accomplish another energy or comfort-related measure. One example is to design the skylight or roof monitor with operable windows to encourage passive exhausting and/or the introduction of natural ventilation.

 Daylight Controls
Allowing daylight into your building is just one part of the solution. Another aspect is controlling and managing the daylight so it doesn’t cause glare or visual discomfort. You can incorporate fixed controls, such as an exterior shading device or an interior lighting shelf, to shade unwanted direct sunlight penetration from entering through vertical glazed fenestrations. Other controls, like retractable blinds and shade clothes, electro-chromatic glazing, etc., can be activated automatically or through occupant input. Due to human nature, however, occupants that lower shades or close blinds to block out glare often forget to raise them again, which essentially undermines your daylight strategy and negates any electrical lighting savings.

 Effective day lighting can enhance a building’s spatial qualities, reduce the load on electrically-supplied lighting and provide significant occupant benefits, such as increased productivity, better employee retention and increased retail sales. As you retrofit your next project or are designing a new one, seek out opportunities to incorporate daylight and gain the benefits in energy reduction and occupant satisfaction

 By Eric McDaniel

Eric McDaniel, Associate AIA, LEED AP, is a technical consultant at Green Building Services Inc


Thursday, February 17th, 2011

In the past, lounge areas of offices were all show and no go. Often, these were designer showpieces that were rarely used. What a difference technology and collaborative work styles has made. Over the last decade, the humble lounge has grown in importance.

In many offices, the lounge has become the most sought after workspace — inviting, comfortable and collaborative– a definite departure from the cubicle culture.

And the office furniture industry is responding with a flood of new and innovative products that make office lounge spaces hum. It isn’t an easy task. Designers still want to use lounge

areas as their office showplaces. Yet the demands on the furniture have changed greatly. Lounges are no longer just for lounging around. They are de facto extensions of the greater office and they must function as such.

When designing lounge furniture, manufacturers must consider ergonomics, wire management and collaboration.  So much for a simple sofa and a few side chairs. Blame it on the young generation of workers flooding offices around the world, said Keith Metcalf, senior industrial designer at Kimball Office who helped create the company’s new Villa lounge furniture collection.


“A lot of the changes that we see going on seems to filter through younger generations based on the way they study and work, plus add to that technology,” he said. “Technology has allowed us to get so mobile. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you work. A lot of times what we’ll see is people will take laptops and mobile devices and work in these mobile places. They are so much more laid back and they become so much more productive because it is almost like they are back at home.”

Kimball designed Villa to be everything to everyone. Designers get to create beautiful spaces that adapt to any environment and workers get comfortable, productive furniture. “Villa is a product that can be configured in any space you want,” Metcalf said. “There are no restrictions. Customers say, ‘We have a waiting area that needs an update.’ Villa ties into the existing environment, but it can also do things like work around walls. Still, it is appealing to people who want to do heads down work and teaming, but in a little more relaxed environment.”

Mike Keilhauer, president of Keilhauer, said he noticed a large emphasis on lounge furniture at Orgatec. European companies like Bene are producing striking lounge furniture that supports work and collaboration, but looks beautiful as well.  It’s Toguna piece, part of the new PARCS collection designed by Luke Pearson of PearsonLloyd, uses a circular, half-open shape that creates an acoustically screened, free-standing piece of furniture to be used in collaborative spaces.

Companies like Vitra and Dauphin also displayed new lounge furniture. “There’s something going on,” Keilhauer said of the change in lounge furniture. “I think what’s happening is that our customers are trying to adapt workplaces to changing technology. Really, chairs and seating have been driven by technology since we started 30 years ago, from a secretary taking dictation to an iPad, Iphone and Blackberry where workspaces become more portable. It used to be you would work in an office and have a separate lounge area.  Now you can actually work in those teaming areas.”

Keilhauer created its Cahoots lounge furniture, launched at NeoCon, to address all the needs of the modern office lounge. Cahoots allows the lounge space to evolve as technology and workstyles change.  Lounge spaces have not eliminated the need for conference rooms, Metcalf said. The changing nature of work have created office spaces that blend a bit of everything. There might be a smattering of cubicles mixed with some lounge pieces and a few small private conference areas. “A lot of the changes you are seeing have to do with technology and space limitations,”Metcalf said. “Any square footage is money, so designers are watching how they lay out the space. When you mix the furniture, it allows different solutions for employees.

“You are seeing generations coming out of college nowadays who learned in teaming environments. That’s how work is being done today too. It is also opening the door to some of these lounge solutions. Lounges used to be used as an entrance way or decorative area. Now it is a workspace.” Keilhauer said he sees the same trends affecting orders at his company. And the collaborative lounge areas aren’t just limited to creative firms like ad agencies and design houses. “All of our work is being driven by our thumbs now,” he said.

“Accountants are working the same way as designers. If you look at lounges in the lobbies of buildings, you find people working away. Anywhere you go now can become a workplace. I’m finding it to be an interesting challenge. If people are doing work that intensely everywhere, how do you support that interaction. We can’t ignore technology. The rise of devices like the iPhone and iPad, what does that mean?”

Kimball’s Villa and Keilhauer’s Cahoots both are based on the concept of modular building blocks of furniture where each piece has its own individual function, but all pieces can be combined to create flexible lounge landscapes.  “We didn’t just think about the spatial relationship between furniture and the space it inhabits,” said Gernot Bohmann, principal of EOOS, the firm that designed Cahoots for Keilhauer. “Our goal was to integrate social components in our design concept. The Meet chair (a triangular club chair) for example, is ideal for communicating in a small group of up to four people. If you place four Meet chairs in a square, you create a private environment, open to the people inside the circle, who are shielded from outside distractions.”

In contrast, the Work chair, when combined with the Notebook table, builds a place for concentration, ideal for single workers. Relax, an upholstered shell chair, works well for taking a break or for more casual seating when using a laptop or notebook computer. Metcalf said Kimball wants to create lounge furniture that’s “upgradable.” “I wanted to develop a product that was sort of like building blocks,” he said. “I wanted our customers to be  able to outfit a space with these shapes and sizes and arrangements so they can go around walls or any obstacles. Aesthetics of it feature simple, clean lines and this building block principle.

That keeps it simple.”

From MMQB – January 2011


Friday, August 1st, 2008

Americans believe when they become sick, diseased or injured, they need medical attention to be cured. We have long associated curing with healing, believing that to be cured is to be healed. Thus, it is the expectation that medical facilities are healing environments. However, are they? Can a place heal? What’s the proof?

Healing environments continue to be defined with new qualities including safety, security, accessibility, sustainability, and now evidence-based design. Using evidence to validate the use of a particular design has become the tool of choice. Evidence shows how to mitigate barriers; evidence shows that better lighting, art programs and even water features improve patient outcomes—and reduce operating costs.

“Healing Environments – What’s the Proof”, new book by Barbara Huelat, defines the characteristics of a healing environment, listing ten essential components that make a difference in health outcomes: place, change, people, comfort, senses, knowledge, empowerment, biophilia, spirit and experience. Readers are challenged to look differently at humanity’s natural ability to heal and to integrate supporting evidence. (more…)