By Dylan Draves
Commercial Interior Designer, Tiscareno Associates
As competition creates more choices for employees returning to the office after two years of remote work, companies must now create workplaces that draw people to them. Brand identity functions as a way to engage employees and reassure them that they made the right employment choice.
Signage is often top of mind when discussing how to incorporate the brand into a tenant improvement design. While signage does play a big role, it is just one of many interior design elements that can help reinforce a company’s brand and values. At Tiscareno Associates, a Seattle architectural firm, we understand the role of signage in good interior design, but we also consider the additional elements to be just as essential.
Color creates visual identity
Color and brand are intimately related as brand identity, and graphics often revolve around specific colors. However, color use in commercial interior design goes beyond literal branding. A family of colors needs to work across real and digital applications.
Colors can be used in combination, or sequence, to create different zones, or tell a story as one moves through a space. Warm colors can make a space feel more energized or exciting, while cool colors, or neutrals, can reinforce a sense of calm and stability. By invoking a psychological response, colors can go beyond brand to reflect a company’s core values.
Reflecting brand in furniture, materials and detailing
The finishing touches within a space can also make important value statements. Furniture can convey a sense of continuity through consistency, or a sense of personal style through variety, and can establish a formal, or informal, tone in both look and function. Example: lounge seating versus conference table.
In terms of materials, using a more constrained palette will make a space feel more unified and formal while using a wider variety of materials and textures will make a space feel more creative and open to change. Different types of lines and shapes also convey different ideas. Straight lines and edges set a more formal and efficient tone while curves create are more innovative in nature.
Form, function and brand
Whether an interior is mainly private offices, open collaboration areas or workstations will be largely determined by the programming and functional needs of the business. However, the way those choices relate to an organization’s core values cannot be overlooked. A company with well-defined core values will integrate them into whatever types of spaces are programmed.
Placing an executive office in the corner sends a very different message than giving that prime space to the break room. An office with a glass front versus a solid front sends a very different message about transparency, access, and communication. The lobby or entrance also plays a big role in reflecting a brand. An oversized and separated lobby gives a sense of formality and importance. Blending the reception area into the rest of the space, or forgoing a traditional lobby altogether, implies a much more casual identity.
There are as many ways to arrange spaces as there are types of spaces. Each option provides another opportunity to express a company’s brand and values.
Having workstations open to each other, or centered around an open collaboration area, can signal that collaboration is valued. Congregating all the workstations in one area, and all the conference rooms in another, makes an office feel more unified. Dispersing them into individual clusters or team areas emphasizes the individual departments or groups.
One approach may not fit all
Maintaining a consistent brand across multiple office floors, buildings or even locations around the world, can be important for larger companies. However, it can be equally important to recognize the individual character of different teams and departments. The sales group versus the marketing group, versus the engineering group, may all work very differently and have different personalities that should be reflected in their spaces.
As discussed earlier, using different space types and arrangements, as well as color, furniture and detailing to distinguish these groups, can help employees take pride, not just in the larger corporation, but also in their individual business unit.
Working with a knowledgeable commercial interior designer and commercial architect is critical in ensuring your brand and values are reflected in your office space. As an architecture firm in Seattle, Tiscareno Associates has a wealth of experience working with clients of a variety of sizes to design an office interior that reflects both their brand and values, and improves employee productivity, satisfaction, and pride.
About the Author
Dylan Draves is a LEED accredited Architectural and Interior Designer and educator, with expertise in corporate interiors, healthcare and multifamily design. With 7 years of experience, Dylan is guided by the principle that good design can positively impact a user’s overall experience, and in essence, make life better. He is most inspired to create spaces where people work and live, whether the goal is to enhance productivity at the office, or to transform a residential unit into a functional home.
A recent example of this dedication to a user’s experience is exhibited through Dylan’s contribution to the Solera Apartments, a mixed use affordable housing architecture project in Renton, WA, where, within the design process, he specifically worked to balance achieving the desired modulation on the façade to help break down the building’s scale, while still providing units with functional and spacious layouts on the interior. Dylan is also a critical team member for a new multifamily development in Lynnwood, and is actively consulted on interior design for corporate interior tenant improvement projects.
From basketball to baking, Dylan’s interests also include sustainability, Architecture Theory and traveling. At Tiscareno Associates, a Seattle architectural firm, Dylan started up, and leads, an Architectural Book Club, encouraging discovery and discussion among his colleagues. In addition to his tenant improvement work at Tiscareno, Dylan currently teaches commercial interior design studios at Seattle Pacific University.
Prior to SPU, he was an adjunct professor of interior design at both Maryville University and at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his Masters of Architecture. He also has an undergraduate degree in interior design from the University of Texas at Austin.