Interior design affects our lives every day. Exploring possibilities, working with the right interior design partner, and finding the right design make all the difference in crafting how people experience the business, not just the space, and the right choices can lift a business to a new level. I had the privilege of interviewing four interior designers from three members of the Construction Institute: George J. Perham, AIA, IIDA, principal-in-charge and vice president, and Stephanie Barbagiovanni, NCIDQ, senior associate, registered interior designer, at Antinozzi Associates; Stevanie Demko, IIDA, interior design principal, from ID3A, LLC; and Terri LaRose Frink, IIDA, principal/studio leader interior architecture, of the S/L/A/M Collaborative.
For each of them, the process is one of shaping interior design to honor the spirit of a business while meeting the needs of the business, its team of employees, and its clients, allowing them to work together effectively in the space. Yet each brings a unique perspective to the discussion. Here’s what they had to say.
What you see as the trends in interior design? What do you find useful or exciting?
Perham and Barbagiovanni are extremely thoughtful about trends. They point out that trends are exactly that. Trends may have value, but they are not inherently focused on any individual clients’ needs. For example, LED lighting has taken over the lighting industry, but as with other technology, things are changing quickly. It’s important to help a client navigate through technology choices to make selections appropriate for them. Current colors and finishes are bright and exciting. Perham and Barbagiovanni design to infuse the company branding into the décor, so that every space captures the company’s spirit and reflects its values. “We get very intimate,” Perham says. “As soon as you walk in the front door, you can’t be in anyone else’s space.”
Demko brings a combination of focus and flexibility through the creation of agile space. That means creating conferences spaces that can accommodate a 10- to 12-person group with technology, white boards, and other collaborative tools, along with spaces for groups as small as two. She is seeing more of a need for open space, with a variety of types of space and flexible use, and less of a need for the private rooms. Demko mentions that integration with offshore offices adds an interesting dimension that she is exploring for ways to translate into space. Working with a client who is ready to change their space means engaging them in a different thought process. Many clients are attached to what they know and, designers, Demko says, are trying to help them figure out what they are becoming. New materials and techniques, like laser cutting are allowing her to give her clients “the wow without the wow budget.”
Frink explained that a current trend is to reduce the footprint of real estate while creating spaces that will attract and retain employees. This involves providing a variety of spaces, including cafés and lounges. A major challenge of many businesses is knowledge transfer. Much information exchange is unplanned, so providing the right environment to promote the exchange of knowledge is an important component of design. In Frink’s words, “From an interior design perspective, it is not so much about the color of the carpet or the type of furniture, it is about designing an environment that truly supports the way people work and encourages the behaviors and information exchange that help make the business successful. This is what is matters.”
What is the best way for owners to work with interior designers to achieve the results they desire?
All four emphasized that engaging an interior designer as soon as possible is key. The question “How much space do we need?” can only be answered by asking “What is the best way for your team to use space?” Perham and Barbagiovanni point out that current 3D modeling technology has greatly enhanced owners’ ability to review alternative designs and really see how the space will look, feel, and work. Demko says she likes to hit the ground running with clients, to see how they are working and doing business. “What I love is when the client knows they need something different and they allow us to explore innovative ideas with them.” It’s about collaboration, connecting, and translating ideas that are reflective of the client. Frink says it is critical for owners to be sure that the designers have the open support of the senior business managers to help invest the managers and employees in the process. She also notes that the owner’s dialogue often starts with size discussions. However, good design is about figuring out the attitude and behaviors that are good for the business. And the design of space comes from that.
Antinozzi Associates has offices in Bridgeport and Norwalk, Conn. ID3A is a full-service architectural and interior design firm with offices in Glastonbury, Conn. The SLAM Collaborative is in Glastonbury, Conn., with additional offices in Atlanta, Boston, and Syracuse, N.Y.
We also for some reason left off Nancy Greenwald’s by line on page 36. If you can add it, it should read; Nancy Greenwald is the director of the Construction Institute