So many things support a healthy culture at work. It is about the variety of types of spaces offered to employees, the acceptance of broad diversity in staff perspectives and skills, as well as management’s desire to build a community that makes an office culture-rich and productive. One component in making all that work is the lighting.
Office lighting levels and colors determine how we see and feel the office environment.
While lighting engineers are striving for an overall “well lit, bright” and “evenly lit” environment, it may be that creating different lighting levels within the corporate office provides some relief or at least some options for the office worker. There is a lighting design theory prevalent now that says when light levels change within an environment, workers note the change and it reduces comfort. We at r.o.i. Design wonder if changes in office light levels create an opportunity for more comfort, not less.
We are conditioned by light in nature. Our relationship with the sun makes us aware of how the light feels different in the spring than in the fall. We walk through the woods and experience direct and bright light in clearings, indirect and dappled light in the forest, and the reflective light while by water.
So how do you bring natural lighting design to your office?
Consider indirect lighting.
Most light we experience is reflected off of other things. Today there are a variety of fixtures that push light to ceilings, and walls that redirect light into the environment. At least 50% of office light needs to use this technique.
Consider changeable lighting.
Giving office dwellers the ability to dim lighting is crucial. Projections and computer screens require less ambient light. And it has been proven that at 3 pm, most offices need a boost of light to energize the office, while earlier in the day people are more productive with less direct light.
Consider multiple sources and points of light within a space.
If an interior space requires a certain level of lumens, make sure that requirement comes from not just one source. Many successfully lit spaces use direct downlight from the highest point, pendant lighting from 8 to 9 feet off the floor, and wall lighting that is 7 feet off the floor. This technique also allows decorative lighting to provide a function, and not just to be pretty.
Consider direct lighting to focus attention.
Much like lighting a billboard, signage, corporate messaging and images, create a “hot spot” of focused light to emphasize what’s important.
While this all sounds expensive, lighting needs can be accomplished on a budget. We are seeing an increased practice of knowledgeable lighting designers working in collaboration with us to create these superiorly lit environments at an affordable price point. Together, lighting design and interior design create spaces that work.
Do you love the open office environment, but sometimes struggle
with the need for a quiet spot to get a project done, have a private
conversation, or just have a moment by yourself?
While trends in office space planning are moving towards no
walls and open spaces, the reality is that most people sometimes need an area
which is peaceful and private, where they aren’t interrupted.
The open office isn’t going away
because it has proven to be great for managing by overhearing, training the new
hire, and collaboration. It also helps the growing company be flexible as they
need to add or move employees without calling a contractor and building more
So, how are offices balancing the need to be together but
“apart”? Our annual trip to NeoCon proved that manufactures are paying
attention to their customers’ open office needs. We saw lots of creative ways
to get a moment of isolation, while still being “available”.
This year the drapery curtain showed up in several showrooms, turning the cubicle walls into a framework that allows for a curtain to be drawn for full separation, or just some. Herman Miller created a lounge in their open office using a giant red velvet curtain and globe lights. Groovy!
There were also a lot of “pods”,
little rooms that manufacturers are now offering as part of the line of
furniture. You buy this tiny room and place it within the open office and plug
it in for power and ventilation.
There were canopies, lids and cones
of all shapes and sizes that aim to keep your voice from traveling to the next.
There was one we called “the cone of silence” that you can pull down around a
So, don’t hate the open office, it doesn’t have to make you
frustrated. You just need to get creative with some relief spaces!
We congratulate our clients who recently had ribbon cuttings and are enjoying their new spaces. These include C.B.D. Consulting (Dixon Architecture and First Companies), Miller Dental (Dixon Architecture and DAR Development), West Michigan Dermatology (R2Design and First Companies), and more! Stay tuned for articles with more information on these exciting projects.
Our next projects to be complete are in the final phase of design. This means we are answering questions that come up at the job site, making any reselections based on budget or lead time issues, and supporting the process through review and consult. Here are some updates on the projects in the final phase.
This is a great new corporate office for this dynamic, young company who is currently busting at the seams in their current office. They wanted a neutral scheme with a POP! This includes very cool light fixtures, and of course, really cool furnishings. We are working with Dixon Architecture and Dykhouse Construction, and this project will be complete in early summer.
Mill Steel Job Progress Photos
United Commercial Services (UCS)
Our friends at UCS bought an older building and are gutting it to create a new, fresh and functional office for their crew; offices as well as a warehouse. Designing for a commercial cleaning company is interesting. We learned a lot about what truly maintainable finishes are. We are working with Lott3Metz Architecture and Pinnacle Construction, and this project will be complete just about the time the kids go back to school!
UCS Job Progress Photos
West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry
With over 500 people visiting their office a day, including parents and siblings, these energetic docs were ready to create a new space that was able to house their busy, busy practice. Gaining some efficiencies and creating more patient comforts were top priorities. No dinosaurs or primary colors here, just warm relaxing fun. The new office includes three kids’ holding areas, a generous open hygiene area, private treatment rooms, and consulting rooms. When it is finished, there will be a model train running throughout the office!
West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry Concept Renderings
With a dynamic young president and a focus on innovation, West Michigan Compounding is a company to watch! With a business plan to grow operations, they needed to expand their offices. Wolverine Building Group reached out to r.o.i. Design for interior design services for this office expansion, which more than doubled the office space, added break-out space and new restrooms.
Ashley Everin, Vice President of West Michigan Compounding, wanted the new office to have a clean, loft look with open ceilings, concrete floors, glass office walls, a touch of reclaimed wood, and new office systems.
In addition to interior finishes, r.o.i. Design assisted them in finding an office furniture supplier who could provide “the look” they wanted. West Michigan Office Interiors was one of four groups we reached out to, and West Michigan Compounding chose to work with them to create a great open office.
An interior design’s success is dependent on how it is lit. Identical finishes lit in two ways will appear totally different. r.o.i. Design has been asked to create initial lighting plans more frequently in the last two years than ever before. There is a growing understanding that the selection of finishes works hand in hand with the lighting.
Our design criteria for lighting is emerging as we increase our understanding of LED (Light Emitting Diodes) and the opportunities to customize decorative fixtures and interior architecture using LED.
Our success in lighting design has been based on some
Different types of spaces need different lighting effects and light levels
For people to feel comfortable in an office space, lighting should reflect nature in that 1/3 of the light is direct, 1/3 of the light is indirect and 1/3 of the light is reflective. Taking natural light (or the lack of) into account is critical.
In a retail space, it is important to direct the eye by creating a greater variety of light levels from walkways to displays and to checkouts. Retail lighting is more theatrical and uses hot-spots to direct customer attention to merchandise and wayfinding.
In a restaurant and hospitality setting, customer transaction areas need to be well lit but customers are comfortable with a more dim environment. It is common for wall art, displays, and perimeters to have brighter accents.
For a professional medical space, waiting and nonmedical spaces need to have different levels of light and different options of light levels for patients to choose what makes them comfortable, while the surgical and medical spaces tend to be more consistently “bright”.
Using decorative and custom light fixtures to enhance brand
or design scheme is well accepted
Decorative fixtures add to the décor, but also add interest and in many cases “ease” the user.
Lights need to be experienced at a variety of levels and locations within a space. Occupants aren’t comfortable with a light source that is close to their reach if it’s just a square box of emitting light. We like the light closest to us to be friendlier and have character.
LED lighting is very flexible, and almost anything can become a light fixture; an object that holds a light, expands the light or just carries the light. This could be a reception desk, a cove, a pane of glass, the reveal of a wall, a planter, or a decorative object.
Exploring the opportunities in color temperature and light levels
Behavior is impacted by light, and in the case of LED lighting the color temperature and intensity of light has specific effects on people.
Giving users options to use all or none of the lighting in an office space has been proving to create employee satisfaction.
At r.o.i. Design, we like to stay on top of new products and current trends in the design world. One important way that we do this is by attending design shows to see these new products and trends firsthand. This spring, we attended two major design shows, International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City and NeoCon in Chicago. Read on to learn more about we saw and discovered.
ICFF, New York City
Thirty years ago this show started as an international furniture show, introducing new ideas and new materials for furniture. But today it is not limited to furniture. They describe themselves as North American’s platform for global design, showcasing the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next. ICFF NYC hosts more than 800 exhibitors from more than 40 countries in 11 categories from furniture to materials to kitchen and bath to fabricators.
r.o.i. Design spent a day at the show and came away with a couple of observations. LED lighting promotes creativity in all product design, but the decorative lighting designs were breathtaking. A couple of memorable showcases were Featherbeams decorative faux trusses and metalwork, Puff Buff Design, LED lights in vinyl bubbles that are shipped unassembled from Poland, and Knuckles and Other Good Joints, beautiful metal joinery that promotes custom table designs.
ICFF is part of Design Week in NYC and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum was part of the Design Week agenda. They were featuring two major exhibits, “Access+Ability” and “Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color”.
“Access+Ability” is an exposition of product designs that enable humans to freely engage with their environment. There has been a surge of design with and by people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Fueled by advances in research, technology, and fabrication, this proliferation of functional, life-enhancing products is creating unprecedented access in homes, schools, workplaces, and the world at large. “Access+Ability” features over 70 innovative designs developed in the last decade.
The second exhibit, “Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color” explores the elusive, complex phenomenon of color perception and how it has captivated artists, designers, scientists, and sages. Featuring over 190 objects spanning antiquity to the present from the extraordinary collections of Smithsonian Libraries and Cooper Hewitt, the exhibition reveals how designers apply the theories of the world’s greatest color thinkers to bring order and excitement to the visual world.
NeoCon 2018, Chicago
We took a day trip to Chicago again this year to attend NeoCon. This year marked the 50th annual Neocon! While the six-plus hours on the road (round-trip) made for a long, hurried day, we still enjoyed the opportunity to see what is new in the world of commercial furnishings.
As usual, NeoCon was crowded with industry professionals on six floors of the Merchandise Mart. Some floors are occupied by the permanent showrooms of larger established manufacturers of furniture, textiles, carpet, and wallcovering. Other floors are full of booths represented by smaller groups and some newcomers. Large or small, many of these exhibitors have something unique, exciting, or just plain beautiful to introduce each year. This year was no exception, as we saw many items to whet our designer appetite.
Here are some of the trends and cool stuff we saw at NeoCon this year.
The styles and colors of the late-midcentury modern style are coming back in retro full-force. This style is super-chic right now in the commercial office industry. Of course, these styles are updated to today’s standards of technology, sustainability, and environmental quality.
Intricate and complex geometric patterns are trending. We saw a lot of these tessellations in fabrics, wall panels, and even light fixtures at this year’s NeoCon.
Adjustable Desks – This trend actually took off a few years ago, but it was interesting to see how almost everyone has adjustable height workstations now. There are some great designs out there. Heck, even r.o.i. Design created custom adjustable desks recently for one of our clients!
We noticed a lot of furniture now features natural wood paired up with powder-coated metals. When past trends in furniture were all wood or no wood at all, these new designs seem to strike a balance between the two.