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Shining from the inside

Published on Monday, 16 Jun 2014
A strategically designed workplace can reap substantial rewards by helping staff discover a new dimension to their working lives.
Photo: M Moser & Associates

The process requires time and effort, but an experienced and skilled interior designer knows to make it a smooth and efficient one.

According to Ziggy Bautista, associate director at M Moser & Associates and a specialist in workplace environment design, winning the trust of a client at the outset is a surefire way to a successful redesign process. "The client will value the opinions of the designer, and trust that any decisions or recommendations from them will be of interest for the client," he says.

Design is a service-type profession that deals with people's emotions, dreams and ambitions. Clients with strong ambitions and big dreams need a perfect team around them to ensure their dreams become a reality.

"This is more than just good communication skills," Bautista says. "It is also about honesty, dignity and integrity. You need to be able to show to the client that he has met a designer who will give 100 per cent. Unfortunately, there is a shortage in the supply of that kind of designer in the market."

A common mistake designers make when approaching an office-redesign project is that they don't realise the language they use is different to the one that the client speaks.

"For example, when a client and a designer both talk about being modern, it is not always the same thing," Bautista says. "When a client says 'contemporary', they could mean 'upper house'. When a designer says 'contemporary', that could be a 'minimal' design. When the client says 'hi-tech', sometimes what they really want is a lot of screens. But designers might think 'paperless'. [Designers] have to understand that clients are not architects and that they live in a different world."

Another common mistake sees designers failing to ask questions in the right way, resulting in clients that inevitably answer in the wrong way. Bautista says designers sometimes think too much and don't really pay attention to what clients want. "If we don't understand the client and know how they think, it will be a big mistake from the beginning," he says.

Communicating with clients and gaining their trust is just the first step. A design project can be split into several stages - such as from concept development to design development, and from construction development to handover - and therefore the whole process may take months, or even years, to complete.

A strategically designed workplace can improve productivity and effectively communicate values and dynamism to a company's staff. "It can improve efficiency because staff discover a new dimension to their workplace and in the way they work," Bautista says.

Recent ideas such as collaborative areas and breakout rooms may be viewed as flavour-of-the-month trends, but they do have their uses, Bautista says. "The truth is they help people discover how effectively they can truly work," he says.

One of Bautista's clients, Chubb, provides security and fire protection services. The company used to have several different locations and it was difficult for staff to work together. The company's management had a vision to create an open collaborative office, which was a new idea at the time.

Toward the end of the design-development stage, the designer chose to present the work in progress to Chubb's staff. Without knowing what they were looking at, they were excited - a space that was open, bright, and colourful, with lots of different ways to work and communicate.

"They started to realise that the essential part of their lives is in fact communicating with people," Bautista says.

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