Designing a Great Workspace Part I

Creativity, Adjustability, and Collaboration. With the constantly evolving trends, these three themes create the foundation for a great workspace. Laura and Caleigh are interior designers here at The Element Group and they sat down and shared some information about the design process.

What steps do you take when designing?

Caleigh:  

Step 1: Meet the client - This gives a sense of the personality the client that the designs are for, as well as the brand that the company stands for. Always go into the first client meeting with an understanding of who they are, through research. Learn about what could be done for them and as well as things such as past projects and missions.

Step 2: See the space - Either through photos or an onsite visit to see the space is essential. This is the time to define and understand the scope of the project, what the limitations and concerns may be, begin to explore all the available opportunities, and if needed, record measurements.

Step 3: Research + Idea gathering - Based on the client meeting and site visit, the information gathered is used to establish ideas for the space and to find photos of similar or drastically different spaces for inspiration.

Step 4: Schematic Design - This is when the formal design process starts. Using all the information gathered, one can start to scribble rough ideas and gather product images that support the ideas that are generated. When defining spaces, it is vital to start thinking about the space three dimensionally through things such as elevations and sketches. The design process continues with decisions about space size and functionality. Followed by materials, furniture, and finishes needed to ensure the look, feel and functionality the client desires. Once things are finalized, the completed design development and the construction documents are assembled in order to finally build the space

How do you determine the best color scheme for the space?

Laura:

It starts with an interview to determine the desired look, feel, and approach. Their design team gets involved and talks over their branding guidelines/standards in the form of a manual. This can contain the color palette, logo and how it should be used, and specific paint colors.

Desert Financial Credit Union Layout

Usually there is an element from another branch or their logo that they want to carry over. It could could be something like walnut paneling, a specific color blue or a special carpet. Sometimes, if there is a large logo wall with video displays, one of the colors featured could be used to create a stronger brand. There is usually a neutral color prevalent through the space, and then accent colors (along with environmental graphics) are used to focus the customer’s eye on certain areas. Often the carpet is selected first and it plays a huge factor in determining the rest of the details that will be added such as the laminates, tiling and countertops. Finding a carpet that enhances and blends with some of the accent colors can provide a base for everything else.

Blue Hills Bank: Seaport

Caleigh:

Utilizing a company's brand as the start off point and finding something else we would like to highlight is key. Using those logo style colors and brand guidelines as a key, the next step is to gather materials that complement and harmonize with the brand/logo, and find materials that will make the brand really POP. If a company has a bold logo color and style and values fun and bright graphics, the goal is to bring those colors subtly into the space so that the overall impression is not overwhelming. Balance is also key with color schemes. If there is a certain orange found in the graphics or on one side of the space, one should be bringing in that warm tone on the other side whether it is through paint, fabric color, or wood tone.

What would be 3 or 4 crucial things to keep in mind when designing a modern workspace?

Laura:

  • Simplicity.  An uncluttered and sophisticated approach that emphasizes fine lines and a sleek, seamless look. A well planned space will allow extensive collaboration in addition to focused individual work. One should have more than one option in the space, this includes conference rooms with increased privacy so not to disturb the other people working, areas dedicated to individual work, and areas for the team to meet and alternatively hang out. There also should be private spaces that allow individuals to find an increased focus. Finally, there should be ample space given to an individual so they can perform their job effectively and efficiently.

Popular Community Bank Lobby Furniture: Dadeland Branch I

  • Furniture and Finishes. Furniture must be comfortable and ergonomic and both must work together to capture the feel and design of the space, be it traditional, modern, or transitional. Comfortable ergonomic furniture is something that has been stressed over and over again as it is one of the most important elements. It is crucial to have options in order to easily adapt to different body types and preferences and be welcoming and supportive of the person in it. It should be of high quality and welcoming.

  • Signage and Wayfinding. For a client, properly designed signage helps the customer identify key areas and clearly directs them around the space.

Newburyport Bank: Newburyport, Massachusetts

  • Glass. Previously, workspace design only used this delicate, yet versatile media for small window panes. Now, designers are embracing this material and are seeking to incorporate it as much as possible. Having an abundance of glass in the design improves the sleek and modern aspect of the space and boosts the moral of the people working there. Glass can be treated in a way that it can regulate heat and still provide ample light, thus reducing electrical costs.

  • To extend on that, Lighting is really important, whether it is for employees, overall illumination, or to highlight features, it should be appropriate for the task at hand.

Part II Coming Soon!

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Interview written and conducted by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group

Edited by Bryn Baldasaro and Dawn Rabinowitz

Special thanks to Laura Mynahan and Caleigh Pollard

Avidia Bank: Leominster Renovation

Avidia Bank: the striking result of a merge between Hudson Savings Bank and Westborough Bank, chose to renovate their Leominster Branch in an unconventional way. They closed the main portion of the branch over the course of eight days in order to get the branch as fully functional as possible in the least amount of time. CarrieAnne Cormier of Avidia Bank graciously spoke with me over the phone to share some insight into the project. 

 Avidia has recently built two other branches that had a more modern look and feel. In order to keep with brand standards and maintain consistency, CarrieAnne felt that it was time to bring Leominster up to snuff. While well maintained, the last time it was updated was in 2005, the year it opened. It was time for a change. For this space, they wanted a more modernized look, one that would attract and engage a younger demographic. Ultimately, this would target new customer segments and ideally build more market share in an area saturated with banks and credit unions. 

Makeover: Day 1

Makeover: Day 8

They chose to fast track this particular project due to the smaller square footage. Spatially, sectioning off parts of the branch while keeping the doors open was not a viable option. However, shutting down the branch for eight days was some cause for concern. To remedy this issue, Avidia decided to keep the drive-up open all week, providing service to customers throughout the entire renovation. This different approach to branch transformation presented its own challenges and stresses, but in the end the hard work paid off. CarrieAnne went on to say that this process was something that she deemed well worth repeating for another smaller branch. However, in terms of a larger one, she would opt for a more traditional approach. 

She made a point of mentioning the dedication of project managers Nate Henry (Element) and Mikala Geurtsen (Avidia) who were in close communication throughout the entirety of the project. Having project managers on both sides of the project allowed for smooth execution and easy troubleshooting. Based on the time crunch, there was little room for error and people were working round the clock to get this project done. There was a little hitch with a carpet being backordered, but that was quickly rectified by Element’s Alina Pawlowski who found a suitable replacement in record time.

 The branch is open now, and the reactions of the customers were priceless. CarrieAnne shared her favorite reaction which occurred only after 2 days after reopening. A customer came in and said, “Wow this doesn't even look like a bank, it’s beautiful!” 

She was very complimentary of the team at Element, saying that they were fun to work with and that they challenged Avidia to think creatively and experiment with different things. She then went on to say that Element does a great job of figuring out and then producing this “branch of the future,” a concept that extends beyond a sleek design and into an effective and smooth workflow.

A big thank you to CarrieAnne for jumping on the phone to answer some of my questions! You can find her on Instagram @banksmartcarrie and Twitter at @BankSmartCARRIE

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Written by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group
Edited by CarrieAnne Cormier

Intern Week: Matt Nguyen

Where do you go to school and what subject do you major in?

Wentworth Institute of Technology, Architecture

How did you first become interested in your field of study?

Since as far as I can remember. I was always interested in space/form. I love making spaces people use.

What’s your favorite food and why?

Favorite food, would have to say Korean BBQ.

Tell me about your favorite hobby.

Favorite hobby would have to be collecting things from figures to an assortment of weird pieces. 

How did you hear about Element and what was one thing that stood out to you about the company?

I first learned about Element through my school’s Career Fair. I remembering meeting Greg and Caleigh as they handed out free swag.

Lewis Clark Credit Union

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go, why, and who would you take with you?

I would travel to Spain because the weather is very nice and it’s rich with history/architecture. I would probably take my architecture friends.

Who are you interning under, what do they have you do, and out of all your responsibilities, which is your favorite/most interesting?

I was interning under Caleigh, but now it’s anyone who needs help. Mainly Jeff/Brian/Laura/Alina, on the architecture/interior side but I also help out with some graphics/renderings of spaces. Out of all my responsibility, I would have to say jumping back and forth between 3D modeling and 2D drafting.


Early phase exterior rendering

What is your favorite app and why?

I don’t have a favorite app unfortunately, but I do use snapchat/youtube a lot!

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Special thank you to Matt!

Organized by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group

Intern Week: Bryn Baldasaro

Where do you go to school and what subject do you major in?

I will be attending Ave Maria University as a History major in the fall, with a minor in Shakespeare in Performance.

How did you first become interested in your field of study?

I think my loved of history stemmed from my love of fantasy and the medieval worlds that Lewis and Tolkien showcased. From there it only grew and this year, my history teacher really encouraged and inspired me to pursue a history degree.

SquareSpace: Blog Line Up

What’s your favorite food and why?

That’s a tough one as I absolutely love all types of food! If I had to pick one thing, I would pick something I am craving right now; a good cup of tea/coffee and a scone.

Tell me about your favorite hobby.

I love to read, my favorite genre being fantasy. Lately, I have been really enjoying some of Kazuro Ishiguro’s works, and am currently working my way through Anna Karenina. I also love musical theatre and I enjoy horseback riding when I can get to the barn.

How did you hear about Element and what was one thing that stood out to you about the company?

I have been indirectly involved with the company from its conception, but I didn’t really work here until a few years ago. I really like the digital aspect of the company. I have seen so much growth in this field and I think that the digital elements are very cool and set the company apart.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go, why, and who would you take with you? 

I would love to go through Europe. I want to see some of the great castles as well as experience the culture of each place. I definitely want to visit Le Château des Versailles as well as Windsor Castle, Chatsworth House, Guédelon Castle, and explore Rome. I would probably go with my best friend of nearly 14 years!

Who are you interning under, what do they have you do, and out of all your responsibilities which is your favorite/most interesting?

I am interning under Nate Baldasaro. I write the blogs and work on the social media pages. I think the most interesting thing that I get to do is write and produce the blog posts.

What is your favorite app and why?

My favorite app would probably be Instagram. I am on it far too much, but its a great place to glean inspiration, stay connected with friends, and follow some really cool people!

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Organized by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group

Intern Week: Taylor Foley

Where do you go to school and what subject do you major in?

Currently, I’m majoring in Environmental Science at the University of New Hampshire, and minoring in Business Administration.

How did you first become interested in your field of study?

Senior year of high school I took AP Environmental Science. I already knew I wanted to do something with the environment going into college, but the teacher helped to cement my love for the natural world.

What’s your favorite food and why?

My favorite food would have to be a nice cheeseburger with bacon.

Tell me about your favorite hobby.

Anything outdoors! Hiking, kayaking, biking, skiing, and camping are some of my favorites.

How did you hear about Element and what was one thing that stood out to you about the company?

I’ve been involved with Element for a while, and I’ve been doing different jobs here since almost the beginning.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go, why, and who would you take with you? 

My dream is to go to New Zealand and hike around the country. Tongariro National Park is supposed to be beautiful, and the people who live there are supposed to be extremely friendly. I’d probably take my younger brother.

Notes and Correspondence for the Avidia Project

Who are you interning under, what do they have you do, and out of all your responsibilities which is your favorite/most interesting?

I’m interning under Nathan Henry as a project manager. I’ve really enjoyed visiting different branches at different parts of the construction process.

What is your favorite app and why?

Recently I’ve downloaded an app called AllTrails, which shows me a bunch of different hiking trails in the area, a lot of which I didn’t know existed.

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Special thank you to Taylor!

Organized by Bryn Baldasaro for The Element Group