The Value of Thoughtful of Interior Design— NEWS

Interior-Design-Graphic

In 2022, the Nacht & Lewis team eagerly returned to the office after an extended period of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The excitement of reuniting in person prompted us to evaluate our workspace. After 20 years in the same building with minimal updates, it was clear that our environment needed a fresh perspective and a modern overhaul. Driven by our firm’s philosophy, core values, and vision for the future, we reassessed each area’s functionality and design.

We started by examining which spaces were underutilized or not functioning optimally. Through careful analysis and staff input, we identified areas that were working, those that needed improvement, and those that had to be completely reimagined.

Our first step was to redesign inefficient or underutilized areas, followed by a focus on improving lighting. Lastly, we put together a dynamic color and material scheme that would refresh our workspace. Thoughtful interior design requires careful consideration of various elements to create a harmonious and functional space.

By focusing on these elements, we transformed our office into a space that reflects our firm’s history and vision for the future while meeting the functional needs of our team. Here’s to another century of innovation and excellence!

Functionality

The design needed to meet the needs and activities of the people using the space. We considered the purpose of each room and planned the layout accordingly. For instance, while a kitchen requires efficient workflow patterns, a living room should provide comfortable seating and facilitate social interaction.

Originally, to access the majority of our office from the reception area, one had to pass through the copy and mail area—an awkward entrance. We relocated this area to a still central but less prominent location, using systems furniture for future flexibility. We partitioned it with a decorative acoustic hanging panel and significantly reduced its size, recognizing that our paper and supply storage needs had diminished.

Aesthetics

We aimed to create a visually pleasing environment by balancing elements such as colors, textures, patterns, and lighting. Our inspiration came from the building’s vernacular, including circular fretwork, our iconic yellow, and nature. We used a Maharam fabric, designed by English men’s clothing designer Paul Smith, to guide our color vision. Most walls and new workstations were kept white or light cream, with pops of color to maintain a crisp overall look and feel.

The centerpiece of our revamped space is a portrait of our founder, Leonard Starks, painted by world-renowned Sacramento artist David Garibaldi. This artwork symbolizes our rich history and commitment to the future.

Scale and Proportion

Paying attention to scale and proportion is essential in creating a harmonious space. This involves ensuring furniture, accessories, and architectural features fit the size of the room. Oversized or undersized elements can disrupt the visual balance, making a space feel either cramped or too sparse.

In our building, we have a dramatic +20 feet high open area, complemented by a lower ceiling work area created from the floating office space above. Both ceilings are exposed but painted black to conceal the building’s HVAC and electrical conduits. Initially, the lower ceiling work area felt dark and cave-like. To address this, we added LED linear lighting, bringing the space to life. Now, each area flows seamlessly into the next. We also lowered the workstation panels to enhance collaboration and visibility.

Balance

Achieving balance in a space involves distributing visual weight evenly. This can be done through symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements of furniture, lighting fixtures, and decorative objects.

Before our remodel, the overall space was overly symmetrical, leading to a monotonous feel. We reconfigured and moved areas to break up this uniformity. For example, we transformed the old Stark’s Lounge, which housed outdated furniture and a rarely used pool table, into a vibrant collaboration space. We added fun lighting, acoustic rounds, and a collaborative banquette. This banquette now serves as an alternate workspace, a spot for informal meetings (both in-person and virtual), or a place to take a break. Introducing such breakout spaces added an element of asymmetry, breaking up the balanced sea of systems furniture.

Natural Light

Maximizing natural light is key to creating an inviting and healthy atmosphere. Proper window positioning and flexible window treatments allow for optimal control of light levels. Mirrors can also be used to reflect and amplify natural light.

We are fortunate to have abundant natural light in our office. However, due to a lower ceiling within the interior space, walled-in areas that were no longer serving their intended purposes, and high partitions of systems furniture, much of the office felt cave-like. To address this, we removed some interior walls and installed low-partition systems furniture. This allows natural light to filter into the core of the space, brightening the entire office.

Layout and Traffic Flow

A well-planned layout is crucial for ensuring logical and efficient movement within a space. It’s important to allow sufficient room for easy navigation and avoid obstacles or bottlenecks. Consideration must be given to the placement of doors, windows, and furniture in relation to traffic flow.

Two major factors we aimed to improve in our remodel were creating a better flow throughout the space and establishing alternate work, meeting, and breakout areas. We realized that our entryway was not as inviting as it could be. To address this, we designed an open waiting area that doubles as a casual meeting space. Additionally, we identified back-of-house areas that had become obsolete. With the shift towards digital storage and reduced paper usage over the past 20 years, we demolished the outdated mail/copy room, reconfigured the reception area, and created a proper waiting area—now known as the new Stark’s Lounge.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Comfort should be a priority in any workspace. This involves selecting furniture and furnishings that are both visually appealing and ergonomic. Consideration of human scale and interaction with the space is essential, as is choosing materials and textures that provide tactile comfort.

Our existing Ampersand Room will continue to serve as a respite area for breaks, phone calls, and small meetings. We have updated it with more comfortable furniture and a more inviting color palette. In the future, we plan to add technical equipment to support podcast broadcasting.

An unused office has been transformed into our official Lactation Room, providing a comfortable, quiet space to support our staff with growing families.

Personalization

Incorporating elements that reflect the personality and interests of the inhabitants can significantly enhance a workspace. Personal touches such as artwork, photographs, or sentimental objects create a sense of belonging and make the space feel more inviting.

We take pride in our firm’s philosophy, accomplishments, and projects. To honor these, our marketing team collaborated with a local graphics firm to create thoughtful graphic pieces. These pieces showcase our local projects and highlight our core values, adding a personalized touch that celebrates our legacy.

Storage and Organization

Adequate storage solutions are essential for keeping a space clutter-free and organized. Built-in storage options, multifunctional furniture, and creative ways to maximize storage capacity can achieve this without sacrificing aesthetics.

Our original materials library was tucked away at the back of our office, hidden from view and challenging to keep organized. It often became a dumping ground for old project samples. We decided to bring the library into the main space, transforming it into a collaboration and working area. With well-designed open and closed storage, ample room, and collaboration work tables, we now have a functional and organized space that fosters creativity and efficiency.

Sustainability

Incorporating environmentally friendly practices and materials into the design is vital. Energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and sustainable materials like reclaimed wood or recycled materials should be considered. Prioritizing long-lasting quality minimizes waste and reduces the need for frequent replacements.

Before our remodel, we lacked a robust sustainability program. By adding several recycling receptacles throughout the office, our staff has become much more conscientious about properly recycling waste. This small but significant change reflects our commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Written by: Stephanie Smith

June 3, 2024

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