Office: Focus - Q&A: Dominic Coleman, Kibre

Cathy Hayward talks to designers in the workplace design space and looks at some of the most exciting upcoming projects:

Edited By Cathy Hayward

What are your thoughts currently on office design and what do clients now require from architects and designers since Covid?

Office design has moved away from a strict place of work to one that allows life to continue within it and marry work, social and creativity. We are designing far more places for people to meet informally. Video conferencing spaces are under huge demand and allowing meeting rooms to be freed up. There’s also greater interest in cafes, event spaces, dining areas and meditation spaces.

How proactive are clients on thinking ahead for projects for next year or beyond?

We find they tend not to get the interiors involved in this process until its sorted from a lease perspective. We are generally brought in at quite short notice once they are into negotiations or a lease has been signed.

What would you say are the seismic changes from office design pre-Covid and now?

Seismic changes in my opinion have been pulled in from the employees and the change of mindset post-Covid and working from home. As designers, we are creating spaces for the people, not just to the companies’ needs and requirements. We need to put them first and understand their wishes, which creates a more collaborative team.

Employers are working hard to create a homely environment that is inviting and one in which people want to spend time. There is a need in the office for people to be able to meet and communicate in person and get the most out of the office environment as opposed to being desk-bound.

They have, or rather are becoming, more social spaces, with the increase in co-working spaces coming up and the large amounts of amenity offices need to take this into consideration.

What have been the biggest design challenges and opportunities to emerge from the shift in the role of the office in recent years?

From a challenge perspective it is managing the social and amenity element of an office and the desk balance. VC is obviously a huge part of everyone’s day to day life, acoustically to ensure clients have the right spaces and comfort.

Time is another factor, designing for the people and creating the space takes more time over the old office design of packing desks in and blanketing it with light.

What key exhibitions, events or other sources help to keep you inspired?

Magazines are a great resource, as are visits to exhibitions such as Salone del Mobile, Maison Objet and UK trade shows, which are all great for new products and designs. However, nothing is better than being really nosy and looking into how people, work, live and use spaces.

Which office design, or other project, has inspired or influenced your own creative thinking?

As we come from a residential background, we look to merge resi interiors into the commercial space to change the environment and energy. Places such as the Old Session House in Clerkenwell inspire me.

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