The design process often takes interesting directions throughout the course of a project.
After projects are complete, it is insightful to reflect on the process that took place to give insights to future projects. Reflecting back on a few recent projects has me pondering what does change look like for our clients and how can we help for the initial reaction to change by employees when the environment they knew has evolved?
One project specifically had several “light bulb” moments for the decision group throughout the design process. From the beginning we were involved with a tight group of creative minds from various job sectors within the company. All of us were working towards the goal of space optimization and planning for the future. The office culture of this company has its own identity and the expression of their brand needed to be present through the furniture layout.
Beginning stages of the design process included test fits that were drawn to better understand the workstation size that met the company’s projections for future occupants. After determining a comfortable workstation footprint of a 6 x 6’ configuration, we created several workstation typicals and had conversations based around the idea of change. Ultimately, the group ended up with the decision for a slightly lower height version of how their existing panel based product was configured. We started with a stepping stone of change, but after touring the Steelcase Headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan the decision group had the chance to trial a variety of settings, listen to Steelcase insights, and hands on experience a variety of product lines. The group had a mind shift on the flight back home, which leaned towards a more open office concept that was previously being questioned by the group.
The workstation typical evolved to a lower, non-panel based solution.
The concept of “I” spaces for individuals and “We” spaces for groups became more identified in the furniture layouts than previously planned for. Ultimately, the product was finalized, more employees were exposed to the new office design, and demo products were brought in for employees to trial before the installation. By the end of the design process, the client had embraced the idea of change from what they knew existed in their space to what the future is gearing them towards.
Change is part of the design process both for the design and the end users of the space.
It is noticeable that change takes time for users to adapt to in a new environment, especially when we are used to living in our surroundings for many years. When traveling down the next design process, my advice is do not be afraid to travel a different path for the future and keep employees engaged throughout the design process to better prepare for the change that lies ahead.
by Katie Parker, Design Consultant