Last week, we introduced you to Elsy Studios Associate Sarah Zales. This week, we’re sharing her top five tips for great workspace design. With more than 18 years in the business, and a constant eye on what’s next, Sarah is a great resource for our clients.

  1. A good space plan is everything. If you start with poor circulation and rooms that are too small for the furniture, it is like putting lipstick on a pig! A thorough understanding of the work flow in an office is critical in creating a space that is functional, provides opportunity for an ‘experience’ and allows for expansion.
  2. A dark, a light and a range of tones. I learned this trick early on in my career during a black-and-white photography class. A well-balanced photo will include a black, a white and a range of gray tones. The same can be said about design. Often it is the white that is forgotten, and a space will feel dull without it.
  3. Create an open feel without sacrificing acoustics. First, figure out where people are likely to congregate naturally, then start by creating openness there. Take care with the surrounding areas. Incorporating clerestory glass, translucent materials, acoustical panels in the wall or ceiling and a sound masking system can all help buffer the noise from quiet work areas.
  4. Don’t forget the ceiling. The two largest planes in a typical office space are the floor and the ceiling. Since most offices utilize acoustical ceiling tile and grid, the look can be boring. The ceiling is a great canvas, providing an opportunity to carry design elements from room to room, or create a directional flow through the space. The addition of drywalls soffits, a bold color, wood wall covering and acoustical panels can make a more cohesive design. Integrating the ceiling design with decorative lighting will take your design to the next level.
  5. Find your comfort zone and then take it one step further. Often a client is the office manager or a partner in a firm. They are typically experts when it comes to the function of the office and the workplace culture. The best designs come from collaboration with the client and designer to accommodate their needs and create a design that slightly pushes the boundaries. From great risk comes great reward!