Designing the office: Furnishing your workspace

12th August 2021 | 3 min read

“Comfort and functionality are key” when it comes to selecting office furnishings, according to Emily Ross, director at Run Interiors, which provides the commercial and hospitality sectors, including LABS, with a turn-key service for interiors, comprising furniture, accessories, art and bespoke products.

She adds that original ideas or recreations of historical characteristics within workspaces are possible and can be great, so long as they don’t impact the functionality and comfort of the office for employees. “A­ fabulous design which doesn’t ‘work’ is futile,” she says.

There is though, an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to workspace fixtures and fittings, so Emily recommends creating a wish list to suit the needs of your company and then integrating this with the fundamental aspects, such as lighting, movement and balance.

You will also need to make sure through your furniture selections that you are creating a safe working environment to ensure employees feel protected.

Additionally, Emily explains that if you want to have items within your office that are part of a new trend you need to consider that it may not always suit your environment in the future, particularly because as trends move on colour palettes change. However, she believes its “important to recognise what styles and design details you are drawn to and embrace it. Highlighting and lifting an interior with a unique accent item can add to the space.”

Similarly, she thinks adapting furniture by use of finishes and colours to match a business’s brand, while not necessarily the wrong approach, is more impactful when kept to just a few subtle features such as a statement mural wall, accent items or literature display. She adds that “many businesses are beginning to recognise that their branding is more likely to grow and possibly develop faster than their office interior and so are willing to avoid a brand exercise of matching the furniture to the business”.

Finding Inspiration

Openwork by Joseph Dirand is Emily’s favourite item of furniture. “It’s modernist furniture at its best. This piece is not your typical commercial furniture, but a design inspired by perhaps a more architectural form, the new from the old,” she says.

She adds that Malgorzata Bany and Martin Massé are also influential sources of inspiration for her too. “They are not your typical source of inspiration for commercial spaces and haven’t always been of influence to me, but their use of materials and individual designs are capable of being used in multiple sectors.”

Emily explains that when furnishing your workplace, you need to consider the environment of the workspace, its potential and the image you want to project of your business through your furnishings.

It’s therefore worth seeing your office furniture as an investment rather than an expense for the business and look at higher quality items. Not only does it need to withstand heavy use, but it’s also “about creating the best representation of your brand, your company’s ethos and the people that work for the business”.

In order to achieve this, “knowing the culture and story behind a brand is what needs to be focused on, when creating an interior concept,” she says.

Mission statements are key to gaining this insight into a business and its purpose, enabling you or a designer to understand where the firm is currently, but also the direction it wants to move forward in.

“Whether the business’ goal is to focus more heavily on client facing meetings, encourage staff to work from the office or create a flat organisation with no hierarchy. The interior architecture of the workspace can assist and implement these movements,” Emily says.

“An office interior should be seen as a company’s personality. First impressions form mental images of our encounters and these first impression can greatly influence how we are perceived and remembered.”

She adds: ­“Visual representation for many people is the easiest impression formation, whether someone is visiting an office space or is an employee.”