[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]
 December 3, 1999

Office decor speaks volumes to clients

Let’s, for a moment, leave behind the weightier topics executives must tackle — bottom lines, labor woes, Y2K, IPOs — and turn to something lighter: interior design. Yes, office decor, the designers say, speaks volumes to clients and employees about the quality of the company’s services.

Dress the part, they always say. And that goes for the executive office as well as the executive. The designers will tell you: If an office looks professional, employees are likely follow suit (no pun intended).

“If you dress your interiors, you’re going to have better personnel,´ said Sylvie Glass, an architect at CCMK in Fort Collins with 21 years of design experience. Glass explained that internal clients — otherwise known as employees — respond to a well-furnished office by dressing better, providing better service, and sometimes, staying with the company longer.

“Productivity of staff has something to do with the way the place looks,” she said.

Of course, around here a “professional” look is more casual than suit and tie, but the quality of the furnishings and the overall appearance can be both professional and casual.

“We tend to be relatively casual here, so you don’t find a lot of slick stuff,” Glass said. “We’re not a suit-and tie-town, but there is a lot of uptown-looking furniture in the offices.”

From antiques to fabrics, from walls to window coverings, interior designers help executives create the kind of corporate image that will propel companies and retain employees. And when they’re plunking down $700 to $2,000 for a chair, executives begin to realize that producing an image is a hefty investment.

It’s about space

Across the board, interior designers say that companies are more interested now in the usability of a space than they were in previous years. Remember the executive suites complete with armoires, private bathrooms, expansive bars and windows that spanned entire sides of buildings? Well, apparently such conspicuous ego massaging is a thing of the past. And while a few companies will maintain private bathrooms for special clients or high-level executives, designers say that extravagant executive privilege is history as well.

As Chuck Peel, vice president of Business Interiors, which has offices in Denver and Fort Collins, explains, “There isn’t anymore work that goes on in a large office.”

In fact, Peel has seen some executives separate their offices into spaces for computer use and for meetings to use the space to its best ability. Peel says that his clients are “a lot more savvy than they used to be” when it comes to making design decisions, and articulating the look they want to project through their offices.

And when it comes to a design’s success, interior-design professionals rely on their clients for details about how they work on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. To get a complete picture of the kind of work they need to accommodate, interior designers often meet directly with management and the employees who will be using the space.

Glass advises clients to keep a diary of what they do during the day so they can identify what type of space they need to do their work effectively. Without that information, designers often revisit facilities after the work is done only to find that the space is being used entirely differently than intended.

The challenge is getting the message right from the start. Some executives have unrealistic ideas about the message they want to send to employees and clients, so the designer must sort out the realities before work begins.

One designer outfitted an office with a series of cubicles. The management’s intent was to send a message of egalitarianism, but the result was disastrous. Glass recalled that there were executives making phone calls under their desks in an effort to find some semblance of privacy.

“If you gave people the option, everyone would choose to have an office of their own,” she concludes.

A remedy for the whispering-under-the-desk scenario and other gaffs is modular furniture. Movable walls and cubicles give flexibility, a plus in rapidly changing environments.

It really pays off to use modular furniture, Glass said. “It’s a lot easier than having construction debris in your office.”

Dollar signs dominate

Another trend — one that makes the designers smile — is the big-budget project. Executives are opening their pockets and laying out generous sums for office remodels.

“People are spending more while the economy is good,” Peel said. “They’re spending significantly more on furniture, and architectural details such as trimming, glass and other design elements.”

Interior design has become closely aligned with architecture And while a remodel seems to be the most popular type of project in these days of rising property values, many firms, such as CCMK, offer services from the blueprint stage onward.

Overall designs can run from $1,000 to $10,000 and more for an office, depending on the size of the space and the specs. Most budgets are set for an entire office building rather than on a per-office basis. And that influences executives’ preferences. More executives are free to design their offices as they see fit, and ergonomic furniture design tops the list of many an executive’s makeover musts.

Consciousness is up in terms of replacing outdated furniture and work stations with pieces that will prevent injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain. Ergonomic work stations are more expensive than the traditional set-up, but when companies consider the long-term benefit of healthy employees, prices of $3,000 to $5,000 per station may seem more manageable.

From the floor up, designers say that the most popular carpeting these days is a looped style that wears well, presents a professional ground cover and is priced at an average of $25 a yard. Clients of Inside Out Inc. in Fort Collins and Greeley are opting for carpeting over hardwood, said Karen Roberts, an interior designer with the store.

Overall, Roberts said, “clients are spending more, and they’re looking for a total package, including paint, carpet and fabric for the chairs.

Burgundy and green win the popularity contest for color. But color — like any other facet of interior design — is strictly a matter of taste, Peel said.

“Designers will tell you that vibrant colors are in, but I don’t hear executives coming in and asking for them,” he added.

Let’s, for a moment, leave behind the weightier topics executives must tackle — bottom lines, labor woes, Y2K, IPOs — and turn to something lighter: interior design. Yes, office decor, the designers say, speaks volumes to clients and employees about the quality of the company’s services.

Dress the part, they always say. And that goes for the executive office as well as the executive. The designers will tell you: If an office looks professional, employees are likely follow suit (no pun intended).

“If you dress your interiors, you’re going to have better personnel,´ said Sylvie Glass, an architect at CCMK in…

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]

Related Content

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-interstitial zone="30"]