Archive for the ‘interior design’ Category

“New family room leaves all smiling” article

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

July 23, 2011, the New Orleans Times Picayune featured “New family room leaves all smiling” highlighting Elemental Design’s Myers Eggleston Family Room project.

“I could never have come up with this,” Eggleston said, glancing around the now-finished family space.  “Let’s put it this way,” Eggleston said with a smile. “I’m much happier with this room.”

The project was submitted to the 2011 IIDA Delta Regional Chapter Re:Awards Design Competition.  The judges commented, “Fresh colors – good use of old and new.  Fun space and great update.” and “Very creative use of the space, much better than what was happening before. The Art collection helps bring the rooms together.”

How to Select Cost Effective, Quality, Durable Office Furniture

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

When selecting office furniture for our workplace, one of the first considerations that comes to most people’s minds is cost.  In many cases, budgets guide our design process from start to finish.  So how do you select furniture that will fit within your budget without sacrificing quality?  How do you find affordable office furniture that won’t fall apart in a year?

It is important to avoid being sucked into the trap of believing the most cost effective furniture is the least expensive.  Big sales, low prices, and short lead times can sound attractive but they can leave you with office furniture that has poor construction, a minimal or non-existent warranty, and little to no ergonomic benefits.  Office furniture will ideally last a decade or more, so its important to make the necessary investment rather than settling for a quick, cheap option.  Working with a reputable furniture dealer to order the right furniture for your needs will most times give your more value than buying retail.

Solid wood furniture is one of the most attractive and long lasting options for the office.  It can also be the most expensive option, so if you’re on a strict budget, this should be reserved for the most visible parts of your office.  Incorporate solid wood into the reception area, the offices of the most important executives (if they regularly have clients present in the office), and any other public area.  Not all of the furniture even has to be solid wood.  Solid wood guest chairs and a solid wood desk will be the most visible areas, while you can get away with laminate or veneer on the bookcases, return, and storage areas.

Laminate furniture is very durable and the manufacturing technology has improved greatly in the last several years.  This is a viable option for a large portion of most offices.  The visual look of “Wood” laminates have been greatly improved and is sometimes indistinguishable from actual wood.  Laminate desktop surface are much more durable and not easily scratched.

Talk to your designer about what you value most so they can select the best furniture for you.

Timeless, yet Updated, Color Schemes for the Office

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Whether you are decorating your home office or a commercial space, the color scheme that you select says much about your attitude in the workplace and the philosophy of your brand.  In some cases, a logo or the company colors can dictate a color scheme, however, there are also times when you’ll have the opportunity and creative freedom to select colors all your own.  When this opportunity arises, the best bet is to pick a color scheme that is versatile and timeless yet current, and colors that encourage productivity and concentrati0n.  A backdrop of neutral pieces accented with the colors you love is always classic.

There are some colors which typically fare better in office environments than others.  These colors have stood up to the test of time and are  proven to enhance workplace  morale.

  • Beige – Steer clear of stark white and instead look for a color with more depth, such as a beige.  This is a great neutral that can be accented with bolder pops of color.
  • Olive – Olive is a warm, rich, earthy color that will keep you grounded and focused on the tasks at hand.
  • Blue – Blues from a restful light blue to a bright royal blue to a serious navy are great in the office.  Blue is the universal favorite color and most workers will be happy to see blue in the office.
  • Oranges, Yellows, and Reds – These colors should not be the main color of a room because they can make people feel irritable or agitated over long periods of time, but they are great choices for accent colors.  A bright color in small doses is perfect for keeping energy up.
  • Pink  – If you’re looking for a color  to spark creativity and imaginative thinking, pink is your color.  It’s perfect for those in creative fields.
  • Brown – From light tan to dark chocolate brown, brown is a strong color that serves as the backbone of an office.  It creates a cozy, yet studious setting.

Stay away from colors that are too bright in large quantities and color combination that contrast starkly.  These distract workers and create a current of uneasiness.

When you’re choosing the color scheme for your office, keep in mind the choices that will stick with you the longest.  Wood stains on casegoods and flooring should be versatile so that any future color fabric and paint changes will look just as stylish as the original scheme.  Dark stained wood is always classic and looks polished with beige, brown, or gray as your base color in upholstery, systems furniture, carpeting, and fabric.

Once you have a neutral backdrop in your key pieces in the office, it’s time to incorporate color.  As we covered earlier, colors that encourage energy and creativity are wonderful in office settings.  Yellow is a huge color in design right now, and orange and red are always popular.  Bright orange accent pillows in the lounge area, subtle yellow in a tackboard fabric, a well designed pink pen holder, these are all ways to incorporate color in a way that is not overwhelming yet makes an impact.  If you’re looking for a more airy, soothing palate, try light woods and laminates with creamy off whites, light blues, and pale olive greens.

Whichever colors you choose to use, make sure to base your color scheme around a grounded neutral.  This way you can accent it with bright colors that can be switched out every 5 years or every decade.  It is the more daring colors that will make an office look dated, so when those colors are easy to change, your office can remain timeless yet fresh.

Sustainable Ideas for Interior Designers

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

As interior designers, there are many things that we can do to increase sustainability and lower the environmental footprint of clients’ projects.  By selecting our materials thoughtfully and giving careful consideration before buying completely new products, the project can become both green and efficient.  Of course there are the obvious suggestions of using low-VOC paints, installing dimmers on lights to reduce energy usage, using renewable resources, and investing in Energy Star appliances, but there are many other ideas that can make a major impact on carrying out your project as sustainably as possible.

  • Use local manufacturers and vendors.  This is beneficial for several reasons.  When you use local products, the resources that would otherwise be used to transport items from one country, state, or city to another are greatly reduced, as is the time that it takes in shipping.  Shipping materials create pollution in their production and waste in their disposal.  The amount of shipping materials necessary for local shipping is far less than that for cross-country freight.  As we attempt to become less fuel-dependent, it is also an important benefit that far less gas and fuel is used in shipping when you’re just going across town rather than to a different state.  Using local vendors and manufacturers also pumps money into the local economy and helps small businesses.
  • Look to antique stores rather than showrooms full of brand new furniture.  Antiques have already been manufactured so their environmental footprint is now minimal.  If they are not sold, beautiful antiques could end up discarded, adding to overflowing trash dumps.  By shopping antiques, you will again find yourself helping the local economy and reducing the impact that manufacturing has on the environment, while also creating a home full of character and history.
  • Stick to the old adage Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.  Look at a client’s current pieces and see what you can do to make these pieces work in a new room.  Sofas, ottomans, and other upholstered pieces can be recovered.  Wood furniture that is looking a little worn can be painted or refinished.  Take the fabric or trim from drapery and make accent pillows or upholster a vintage chair.  The initial manufacturing process releases so many pollutants and uses  so many materials, that simply repurposing what you have can make a dramatic difference in the carbon footprint of your project.  While the cost may not be substantially different, the sustainable result is.

These ideas will help your project get on the right track towards staying sustainable.  The end result will not only be just as gorgeous as your other designs, but both you and your client will feel great about the lack of  negative impact that your work has on the environment.

Green Workplaces, Productive Employees

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Are you thinking about an office renovation? Looking to spruce up the workplace?  If so, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of introducing green elements into the new design of your office.  Many people consider the idea, then dismiss it, wondering if it’s really worth the extra research and potential cost.  Turns out, it may pay off to devote a little extra time or money on going green.  As studies are showing, green offices lead to more productive employees.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was reported that in a building with natural lighting where and when
available, natural ventilation to supplement air conditioning, and improved air quality, employees had, on average, an additional 39
hours of productivity a year.

To break this 39 hours statistic down, here are a few observations from the study:  Allergy sufferers reported that the hours they spent affected per month by environmental allergies decreased by more than half.  Employees reported the number of hours they felt stressed or depressed decreased by a little under a third every month.  Decreasing hours lost to allergies and poor mental health led to less days lost to absenteeism and illness.

Some opinions argue that these statistics are simply due to a placebo affect, that employees feel better about their health and going to work when they believe that their employer is looking out for their well being.  Regardless, the productivity hours speak for themselves. When employees are in a green workplace, they are happier and healthier.

Wondering how to most increase productivity with green changes in your workplace?

Use natural light wherever and whenever possible.  Seat employees near windows and keep those blinds open.  Turn off the interior lights when it is possible to work by natural light. When it is absolutely necessary to use office lighting, use energy star approved lighting. Knowing that their lighting is having a positive impact on the environment will improve employee morale.

Improve ventilation and air quality.  Use fans, open windows, and use the vent setting on air conditioning units.  While it may seem
counter-intuitive to let outdoor air in on the way to improving allergies and health, it actually has proven beneficial for employees.
By filtering the stale office air out, dust allergies are greatly reduced.

While the positive effects on the environment should be enough reason to go green anywhere, the improved productivity in the workplace is surely an added incentive.  The best part about going green in the office is that you can completely overhaul your office with low VOC paints, sustainable furniture, and carpets free of chemicals, or you do something as simple as letting light and air in.  Just knowing that you care about the environment and about your employees will make your office a happier, healthier place to work.

Suggestions for recent Interior Design Graduates

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Congratulations on your interior design degree.  The next thing on your agenda is to find a job if your internship didn’t change into one.  I have been an interior designer for 18 years now. Here are some things that I have found useful while job hunting.

* Send your resume to any firm that even vaguely looks like it would be suitable for interior design or architecture.

* Look at the job posting at IIDA, ASID, AIA. Don’t only look at open posting, read all to see if the firm does the kind of work you are interested.  Then send your resume to the ones that look like a fit for your personality and what you want to do.

* Do internet search for local interior design or architecture firms.

* Do internet search for facilities groups of corporations that do in-house design and reconfiguration

* Keep an open mind about what kind of work you might like to do. Usually after finished school and a few internships, there are still a lot of areas out there. You never know what you might fall into that you will love.

* Be willing to try many different areas of design. I have worked for many types of firms: single architect office, custom furniture design, furniture showroom, window covering retail shop (in store and in home), museum, architectural firms, big E little A firm in architecture department, interior design firms (often have technical side and FF&E side), custom cabinetry shop, furniture dealer, etc.

* Remember that at this point in your career, you could work as an intern architect doing cad work also. Great experience for an interior designer to have the technical background.

* I did get a relocation position through Zweig White which is an architectural / interior design recruiting firm. That was about 7 years into my career after I had passed my licensing exam.

* If you can’t find a position right away spend time educating yourself with the many online and often free white papers, webinars, etc. I have had time recently to do this and was greatly impressed by the quality of valuable education out there.

* Be actively involved in your local IIDA, ASID, AIA organizations. Volunteer on their committees and boards and get to know working professionals. Networking is the best way to find a position.

* Keep in touch with your local product reps. They are usually extremely helpful and know what is going on in the local firms and often who is hiring. I have got a lot of good leads from my reps.

* Use the power of social media to your advantage.  Use your connections on LinkedIn or Facebook to network with local designers.  Then set up a time to have coffee to meet them.  Ask them to critique your portfolio or offer a practice interview.

* Consider working as an intern until you can find a paying position.

* Consider working for a non-profit until you can find a paying position. Even volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or other similar group would be very educational.

* Consider studying for the LEED exam.  The industry is moving toward desiring this in addition to your degree.  It could give you an edge over other potential employees.

If design is your passion, be open and something will come your way.

Design Links

IIDA International Interior Design Association

ASID Americal Society of Interior Designers

USGBC US Green Building Council

IFMA International Facility Management Association

NCIDQ National Council for Interior Design Qualification

CIDA Council for Interior Design Accreditation

The American Institute of Architects

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)

Louisiana State Board of Interior Designers

Spring is in the air and it is time for some color!

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The southern parts of the country have lots of plants blooming. The snow covered north has a few hardy blossoms breaking through. Even Arizona is green and covered with colorful blooms. Here are some articles on various kinds of color for your enjoyment.

2010 Color trends by Sherwin Williams are great inspiration with eye candy photos. Archives to 2006.

Lost Greek city that may have inspired Atlantis myth gives up secrets

Color + Design Blog / Gods In Color: Painted Sculpture Of Classical Antiquity by COLOURlovers

Talking Turquoise. The story behind this cool hue, which is dominating the design world….

The Origin of Magenta. When your name is derived from the battlefield, its no wonder people pay attention to you.

Matte Black Is the New “Black” (always been a favorite of mine!)

Shades of Night: Why is Light Essential for Your Design?

Color in Unexpected Places - these are some fun ideas, try one out!

Textile Trends for 2010

Specialty paint ideas. I like faux chair rail and stripes. Have used lace-like stencil in stripes for accent wall.

Favorite colors test shows CEOs are different; take the test

Free Color Personality Test for fun. Ebook “Powerful Networking Secrets…” on same page is worth looking at.

HOW TO: Create That Amazing Avatar Make-up. Wow – add to your costume idea file! I need to have her over before my next costume party!

Happy creating!

Suzanne (Dummer) Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

Dedicated to improving quality of life through functional interior design.

QuoteActions – Inspirational quotes and actions

Fulfilling your dreams

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Many people have dreams that they do not know how to fulfill on their own, especially in regards to the design of their offices and homes. Interior design is an art and science that assists the client in the process of bringing their dreams to life in the built environment. There are many aspects to consider of how we relate to the built environment. Here are a few articles I have found that discuss a few of these aspects.

To open links in a new browser page, CTRL-click the link.

Practice: The Third Dimension of Brand. Integrating into how interior design is experienced

Repositioning: Breathing New Life into Older Buildings. Updates will help market positioning in future

Designing for Health: Expanding the Definition of Sustainability to Include Chemical Awareness

Transformative Design: The Means to Sustainability and Future Success

Designing for Health: Leading by Design – A Place to Flourish

Designers are Motivators – how design can have a direct positive impact on public health and well-being.

What Is Your Real Business? Interior Design? What does the client really want?

Here’s a great website to find playgrounds in your area or to help build them too

Giving and Receiving Inspiration

Happy creating!

Suzanne (Dummer) Stafford, IIDA LEED-AP
Elemental Design, LLC

Dedicated to improving quality of life through functional interior design.