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Designing an efficient space

IN the past two decades, interior designers have made quantum leaps in their profession, moving from selecting fashionable office colour schemes to creating productive and efficient workplaces that contribute to a business’s bottom line.

According to Mark Mitcheson-Low, managing partner at Perth’s largest interior design firm Woods Bagot, a good office design can save a business money in two ways.

“Efficient planning could reduce the amount of office space needed. If it reduces the space needed by 20 per cent, that is 20 per cent less space that the business needs to lease, which is a saving.” Mr Mitcheson-Low said.

“And if people have a good work environment that promotes good office interaction and morale, they will be more productive, which is also good for the business.”

Creating a productive office meant becoming immersed in the day to day and future functions of a business, Mr Mitcheson-Low said. “We become involved in the strategic planning of the businesses, looking at its present office dynamics and how and where it will grow in the future, and then planning for it,” he said.

“To this end we help clients find a building that suits their needs.”

Interior designers also helped businesses adapt to changing trends in workplace culture, according to Blake Thornton Smith Designers principal Ben Blake.

“Management systems have changed and roles have been redefined,” Mr Blake said.

“Instead of glass offices and cubicles, there are now more informal spaces to allow greater informal interaction between employees and departments.

“And this is important in today’s fluid workplace, where people are changing jobs regularly.”

Designing the best possible office for a client also meant keeping abreast of the latest and greatest office technologies, according to Interiors Australia client services manager Murray Simcock.

“It is much more than cushion scattering and colour schemes, we have to look at the workplace dynamics and how employees communicate visually, verbally and digitally … and find the most appropriate and cost effective products to suit,” Mr Simcock said.

“We have to keep up with all the products and understand what effects they will produce. For example if more computers are put into an office in an older building, we then have to look at the airconditioning to make sure it will still be appropriate.”

He said interior designers had to look at all facets of an office, including security, lighting, office furniture and communication systems as well as the hidden elements of an office, which included electrical wiring, drainage and building structure.

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