Monthly Archives: February 2014

Health Safety and Welfare

One of the greatest challenges of Interior Designer is the innate misunderstanding regarding what we do. The result is a misunderstanding as to why regulation of the term “Interior Designer” or more commonly “Registered Interior Designer” is important.

The most common response I get when I tell people I’m an interior designer is: “Oh, that sounds like fun and I could really use your help picking paint colors for X room in my house!” I usually smile and tell them I will be happy to help, but I’m actually a commercial designer. When all I’m doing is picking paint, you wouldn’t care whether or not your interior designer has a license.

Paint is the tip of a very large iceberg. The deep, submerged parts of the iceberg include a well of technical knowledge regarding fire codes, building codes, general knowledge of construction techniques and materials, ADA Guidelines, sustainable building, and building signage.  There is the ability to transfer this knowledge to contract documentation for a contractor to build, and specialized product knowledge for specialized applications. A hospital needs hypoallergenic and antimicrobial materials like floors and curtains that would probably not show up in your home. Our work touches that of all other building trades including and at times crossing over the responsibilities of architects, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, IT technicians, and general contracting.

I’ve completed entire projects where my job is to create construction documents and paint is not a consideration at all. Conversely, I’ve done projects where we don’t move a single wall but help only with the selection of furniture, fabrics and paints. That’s a large area of general and specialized knowledge.

When the iceberg goes so deep into the parameters that affect building safety,  (like where to locate your exit signs and fire extinguishers, yes we do that too!) you get into an area where legal responsibility for the correctness of the work IS an issue. That is why the development of legislation is important. If your interior designer is helping your office to add that vacant tenant unit next door to your space and expand that little kitchenette into a full break room then you (or your boss) will want to know that anyone who works on that project has been vetted and know their stuff.

Regulation over the terminology like “Registered Interior Designer” is a state-to-state issue with roughly half of our state governments (and all Federal government work) requiring licensing and registration to prove minimum competency. Just like your CPA and CFA, and just like your Architect.

See a little more here regarding Health Safety and Welfare as an issue that affects interior design legislation.


Researching Trends for your Office

If you’ve been involved in an office re-design in the last 5 years, you’ve probably heard the term “benching.” This term generally refers to a long table configuration that serves several users without cubical partitions and often has a track or tray of technology components run down the center spine of the table. About 2010 this was the new tool that all the furniture companies were scrambling to produce a version of.

This past year I’ve seen a dozens of furniture companies in the commercial world scrambling to put out a sit-to-stand table or desk. This hot trend gives a user the choice to push away their chair and work at a standing or bar height as they see fit to stretch their legs. It’s not actually a new idea (I’ve spent my far share of time at a drafting board at standing height) but the power and pneumatic controls are what make this trend really appealing, because it’s not easy to adjust the older versions of these sit-to-stand tables.

Every few years there is a new furniture idea that needs to be evaluated for whether or not its adoption is appropriate for your clients, or your work style. I find one of the best repositories for researching these trends and all the new ones (they will only come faster in our technology-driven world) is Haworth.

Haworth, as well as being one of the many large and fine commercial office companies in the US, also devotes a great deal of energy to research. If you’re interested in what’s coming next, what is affecting workplaces now, then the following link is a home base to exploring technologies, theories and thought-processes affecting the office world today.

Haworth Resources: Trends

They also have their White Papers readily accessible and on topics of strange, but serious significance. I’ve just added this one to my “to read” list:

Work 2020: The Effect of Higher Oil Prices on the Future of Work

As a final resource, I will include an excerpt for Gensler’s 2014 Design Forecast: a quick, graphic read discussing those factors in 2014 affecting office trends today (technology, health and wellness)  and very applicable considerations for all your office design considerations:

Six Design Meta-Trends

Enjoy Researching!