The office break room – it’s the place staff visit many times per day. They may be dropping off their lunch in the fridge, grabbing a cup of coffee, sharing a piece of birthday cake, eating lunch with co-workers, or just finding a spot to focus on some work other than in their cubicle. The “water cooler” days are over. Companies value their employees and want them to feel at home at work, so they are providing break rooms that aim to please. It’s more than just pleasing staff, it’s about building a culture of sharing, collaboration, inclusion, and performance.
r.o.i. Design has fashioned many break rooms, and here are some of the common employee requests:
Enough refrigeration, coffee pots, and microwaves:
“I don’t always have a lot of time for breaks, and if there is a line for the appliances, I skip a break.”
A company with less than 18 employees can get away with one 33” wide refrigerator and one microwave, but as soon as the population tips that number, more appliances are needed. People will congregate at the same time. The value of informal collaboration is priceless, so no one should have to wait to be engaged with others.
Enough space so it’s not cluttered and messy:
“If I am going to spend time in that room, it has to be orderly and calm or I am not going to bother. I also want a variety of seating options as well as everything being clean.”
So, what is enough space, and how do owners legitimize that investment? In planning, if the break room can take on some of the requirements for meeting and gathering, and managers promote the space as a meeting space, then the break room creates an ROI. It can also be a great place to build an internal brand and messaging.
Natural light and natural lighting:
“My desk isn’t close to a window, so I look forward to spending time in the break room and look outside.”
Since most of our designs are in Michigan, the dark seasons can be brutal. Anything owners can do to create settings with natural light, adequate artificial light, related plant space, and outdoor space is significant.
Healthy vending options:
“I don’t expect my work to provide my lunch but when I am too busy to get healthy food, it would be great to know I can get something more than a candy bar or a bag of chips.”
If owners don’t have resources to provide healthy snacks, there are a variety of vendors who have creative programs for healthy snacks.
Information and Technology:
“My job is stressful, and I am staring at a screen all day, but it would be great to look at something other than spreadsheets and plans. Something that informs, educates and entertains me and takes me away from my day.”
Some companies rely on monitors that stream CNN, ABC, CBS, etc. Other companies are getting creative about streaming nature videos, replays of the weekend sports, and editorial videos that relate to the issues of the day.
The cool factor:
“If my break room looked like my local hangout, and my bosses were OK with that, it would say a lot about where I work. I think I could relax more if the break room didn’t feel like part of a corporate plan”.
The break rooms of today are one part Starbucks, one part Whole Foods, and one part Google. The recipe for cool shifts daily, but it doesn’t look like the rest of the office.
Our customers have talked about the hiring process, and the
tour they give to prospective employees, and clearly the break room has a
significant impact on how applicants feel about the company. So the break room
is more than an afterthought, it has a role in describing the goals of the
company and the current corporate culture.
Even six years ago, the buzz about the “casualization” of the workplace started to peak and has been growing since. In an article by Retrofit Magazine, “Today’s Corporate Break Rooms”, a very key point is featured: “If you’re a building owner or facility manager planning to retrofit your office space to incorporate a corporate café or town hall, one thing is clear: You may have the most attractive spaces designed and constructed but unless the culture of your organization is aligned with the casual work style they support, the investment will be for naught. Management must encourage and foster a more flexible approach to how and where people work for these casual breakout spaces to be successful…”
For r.o.i. Design, the View Point project allowed us to use all our skills and resources. In addition to planning and interior design, we took on the challenge of adding the finishing touches to a warehouse-loft-look by designing, procuring and installing décor. We used numerous reclaimed items, along with new items to complete the look.
We shopped Pitsch Wrecking and came away with some old
windows, bikes, and a few feet of chain-link fencing. We stripped the bikes and
painted them in their entirety, and then hung them from the ceiling. We disassembled
some of the bikes and just mounted their painted wheels on the wall. We cleaned
up the windows, made them shatterproof, and arranged them in the lounge area.
We wanted to use some old warehouse doors but couldn’t find any.
So, we built them in our shop and faux painted them to create the look we wanted,
then installed them in key areas.
We found an artist who had some great “old sign” graphics
and asked them to change the verbiage and design to accommodate some Grand
Valley State University words and icons.
And with the addition of a few IKEA mirrors and some faux
painting by Michael Pfleghaar, the warehouse-loft-look took shape.
Campus View, a major player in student housing in Allendale, MI, wanted to create a different housing option for the student who wants a private personal space but still needs to be connected to a community. They own the building formerly housing “Brian’s Books” near Pierce Road and 48th Street just south of the Grand Valley State University Campus. They decided to turn this 20-year-old retail space into View Point, with 24 small studio apartments, an open lounge area, a common kitchen, an exercise room, and a laundry room.
They called in TJA Architects and r.o.i. Design to help them conceive and execute a plan to create View Point. We developed a hipster design criterion, while still providing top-notch amenities.
Keeping the basic architecture of the building, we had to conceive an exterior finish that would separate it from its former retail storefront look. One of the main front gables was minimized and the face of the building was sided in three different colors of metal panel to create random vertical stripes. We highlighted the entrances with a dramatic asymmetrical face of dark siding contrasted with warm wood planking around the entry doors.
These design criteria resulted in some fun details in the interior common areas:
Oversized, 24-inch tall apartment numbers stenciled on the walls
Funky wicker woven corridor light fixtures
Planked and octagonal modular carpet patterns in random patterns
Custom canvas art using iconic Grand Valley State University names and places
Found and repurposed items for decor
View Point offers its residents a well-appointed one-room apartment with a full bathroom. Each unit includes a small kitchenette area with solid surface countertops, study area, sitting area with a wall-mounted TV, and a bed with trundle storage. Just outside each unit is a lounge area with seating, a huge TV, and a spacious common kitchen with an 18-foot island and personal storage for each resident.
West Michigan Dermatology Opens New Office in Grandville
What was once the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse at 3434 Rivertown Point Court in Grandville, is now the new home of West Michigan Dermatology. The 13,000-square-foot space underwent a huge transformation from restaurant to medical office facility that includes a private waiting area for their patients, a MOHS surgical center, a skin revitalizing center, modern exam rooms, and administrative space. First Companies, the contractor, also added additional square footage to the building to accommodate a pathology lab, a call center, surgical open office space, and a break room.
Architect Jon Blair, from R2Design, created an exterior design that included a complete facelift; adding stone, wood pergola, wood brackets, and metal awnings. First Companies, Jon Blair, and r.o.i. Design also created the Holland office for West Michigan Dermatology earlier this year and joined up again to create this beautiful space.
Customer care is at the forefront for
West Michigan Dermatology, so the customer greeting and check-in spaces were
scrutinized. The waiting areas are generous and in clear view of the reception
area. The inspiration for the design came from a lakefront cottage, where the
colors are calming and natural; a palette of blue, aqua, gray, cream and white.
All photographs courtesy: First Companies, Inc.
A couple of favorite details include:
The lobby carpet, whose pattern is a reminiscence of the water to sand patterns you see at the beach.
The entry faux skylight that filters the light from the “tower” into the space.
The beams and millwork details at entry and reception.
The wall covering in the Skin Revitalizing waiting room.
The MOHS waiting room seating collection.
On this project, we also designed a custom desk for the open office surgical team that has two heights and offers a convenient way for the providers to work with the medical team.
For more information on West Michigan Dermatology Grandville and the services they offer, visit their website.
Congratulations to Mill Steel Company on the opening of
their new headquarters on Lucerne Drive in Grand Rapids.
This 30-year-old brick building exterior was modernized with new paint and metal siding, roof dormers, canopies and railings, decorative light fixtures and new signage. r.o.i. Design could be seen with large finish samples walking around in the snow and rain last year, working with Mill Steel imagining all of the finish changes.
This project began with r.o.i Design managing a programming step, interviewing a variety of people from Mill Steel and creating bubble plans for Dixon Architecture to use in creating the floor plan. The plan included private offices and meeting rooms, but proportionately much more open office, collaborative and shared spaces. There are a café and a breakroom, as well as a patio and fire pit. Staff have plenty of breakout areas for private conversations or just to get away.
Mill Steel wanted the space to be engaging and represent their personalities; they liked clean lines and assured us they weren’t afraid of color. The interior was completely demolished and remodeled – most new walls have glass doors and windows that open up all the rooms to the natural light. r.o.i. Design worked closely with contractors on the lighting and ceiling plans to make sure the space was well lit and energized. The color scheme included their brand blue color but overall was kept neutral, light and bright.
Some of our favorite interior design features include:
Ametal paneled wall in the lobby
A “Live Wall” in the breakroom
Pivot doors from the breakroom to the training room
A custom twenty-one-foot boardroom table
Painted wall graphics
Floors with interesting carpet and luxury vinyl tile patterns throughout the office.
Thank you to Dixon Architecture and Dykhouse Construction
for partnering with us on this great project.
Mill Steel is one of the largest steel service centers in
the nation. They specialize in
flat-rolled carbon steel for various markets including automotive, appliance,
construction, HVAC, and agriculture. Their 32,000 sq. ft. facility is a
two-story building with walkouts on both levels and conveniently located to
For more information on Mill Steel, visit their website.
Can’t find the perfect board room table? Need a storage cabinet that looks like a piece of furniture versus a laminate box? Want a custom-sized sofa? Need to incorporate graphics into custom pieces? We can help.
r.o.i. Design grew out of the furniture industry and we continue
to design custom furniture as part of our interior design services.
Ryan Bright, Creative Executive, has a degree in furniture design and met r.o.i. Design when he was a design intern for Widdicomb Furniture in 1999. Since joining r.o.i. Design he has designed many custom pieces for our customers.
Mary Witte, Owner and Creative Lead, owned a custom millwork company, Designers Workshop, which was purchased by Widdicomb Furniture. There she continued to design custom millwork and furniture and was acknowledged by the industry with an award from American Home for her designs.
Ronda Geyer, Procurement and Product Manager, coordinates our furniture vendors to make sure custom pieces are delivered and installed as designed.
We have maintained relationships with custom furniture makers and finishers that we met through our experience as furniture makers and still use today to fabricate custom pieces.
Some of our recent designs include:
From concept to installation, r.o.i. Design delivers custom furnishings fulfilling our promise to provide Budget, Brand, and Beauty.