Posts Tagged ‘offices’

Building Designer Mark Iscaro puts the case for sustainable office furnishings

April 23, 2012

Thanks to building designer Mark Iscaro from Firstangle in Victoria, Australia for his views on sourcing sustainable products for office use.

I’m sitting in my lounge-room, staring at my wonderful recycled brick feature wall, with my 7 year old couch sitting in front of it, and pondering how to freshen up my office (in my garage). I have carpet cut offs and old rugs down on the concrete acting as flooring – very ‘eco chic’ of me I know!

When setting up your office, be it for the first time or be it renewing old worn out furniture pieces, considering the eco credentials of the new furniture often plays second fiddle to price-driven decisions of most businesses. In saying that, there are options out there that are not only cost efficient but are also sustainably minded. You just need to know where to look in order to find the product.

Much like incorporating sustainable options within your home, incorporating them into your office can be rather daunting, but don’t despair, for I have some great ideas and suggestions on how and where to look to find those solutions within budget and with eco credentials in mind. Firstly we need to consider the options available to us. There are quite a few but we will focus on the four most popular sustainable choices.

Recycled (Second Hand/Reconditioned Furniture)
Renewed (Repaired/Rebuilt Furniture)
Up-cycled (New Furniture From Recycled Parts)
New (Eco Friendly Furniture)



Two contrasting approaches to hot desking

April 5, 2012

At a seminar at Ecobuild, I heard of two very different approaches to hot desking. This anecdote was part of a talk by Phyllida Mills, architect with Penoyre & Prasad LLP and a member of the SBID’s sustainability panel. The practice had successfully implemented an interior refurbishment with sustainability as a key part of the brief. Hot desking was just one of several aspects of the finished interior that allowed better use of the space, and accommodated the needs of several different types of users, ranging from communications team to more academic types who were accustomed to quiter, more studious workspace.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ ‘desk booking’ system was mentioned – I looked into this a bit more and it is based around a contactless ID card, and a booking system that operates like a hotel room booking system.

102 of these can be booked when required using the “hotelling”, or hot-desking, system.  For example, members of staff from another city who need to work in Zurich for a short time, identify themselves at the entrance using the LEGIC contactless smart card, and use the same card to book a desk at one of the three hotelling consoles in the foyer.  When they leave the building in the evening, it is an easy matter to release the desk again, using the LEGIC smart card.

This type of system can cause problems, if no resource is dedicated to administer the system, and if the users are not familiar with booking in and booking out. Forum posts on the Lean Enterprise Institute explore these problems, and explore ways of using lean principles to find the solution to a system that wasn’t working.

The City, London

PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Zurich is a large office- 1064 workstations- and a computer based system might well be the best option. But for small teams, a ‘visually managed’ system is much easier and more efficient. In other words, placing a rubber duck on the desk when it is free.

Rubber duck on desk

Contract carpets: colour and design trends

February 7, 2012

Researching new carpet designs I have found that while linears remain strong, a new trend for patterns is emerging. Natural and neutral colours are still core, but manufacturers are also branching out into bolder, more daring colourways.

The popular linear trend prevails with these continuing to be strongly specified for contract and in particular, corporate interiors.

Designs such as Christy Carpets’ Spice Route, installed at this training centre in Oxford, remain in demand.

New linear designs are still being released, with Forbo’s tactile Arran range, part of the Tessera collection. It takes the linear concept in a new direction with its heavyweight, multi-height loop pile. Unashamedly irregular peaks and furrows give it a natural, almost ‘artisan’ appearance.

Milliken’s new Southern Analog modular carpet tiles (below) are another indication that linear is moving towards new concepts. Two designs are incorporated: the variegated linear elements of Panoramic that create a feeling of rhythm and progression, along with the mirage-like structure of Viewfinder, that creates effects such as sun flares and ripples on still water.

Product designers are looking to the next trend and more organic, patterned styles are also coming in. Vanessa Brady, President of the SBID, said recently in advance of the Surface Design show: “Colour is back, it should be muted so as to last the test of time, it should be toned down, to fit the sweeping change in society’s outlook – less ‘show’ more subtlety.”

Intimate high back chairs

December 21, 2011

High-back armchairs provide a private, intimate space in which to relax, enjoy a quiet moment, and block out the distractions and hustle and bustle of modern life.

They are often designed and specified for public areas, receptions, atria or break-out spaces, such as the Norah by JDD, while others, like the Remind chair by Nube Italia are suited to cosy residential interiors.

Click on the images to go through to manufacturer websites.
Which is your favourite?
Check out the poll at the bottom of this post.

Alcove High Back Love Seat
The Alcove High Back Love Seat is designed by Bouroullec Brothers for Vitra. It is the high-back version of the Alcove, which is also available as a two-seater and a three-seater.
Vitra are holding a Christmas market until 22 December at their Clerkenwell Road showroom where you can check out the Alcove and shop for christmas items.

Available direct from Vitra or from suppliers such as
Connections Interiors.
Photographer: Marc Eggimann | © Vitra (

Ska Rating

February 13, 2011

I heard about the Ska Rating from Joe Cilia of the Association of Interior Specialists.

It’s an environmental benchmarking and rating tool for interior design and fit-out projects. The system has been adopted by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and will enable you to measure 100% of the environmental performance of an office fit-out. It will allow the sustainability of existing building stock to be improved, where a BREEAM rating would not be achievable.


Office atrium refurb rant

June 28, 2010

I’ve been tweeting recently about the refurbishment of the atrium of our office building – the building houses four large open-plan offices: a commercial publisher (us), two public bodies and a business banking centre.

I’m not a qualified designer or architect, but I have a bit of knowledge built up over the years, researching and editing information about interior and architecture products and this atrium refurbishment really isn’t working for me.

This morning I came in to find my fears were confirmed: the stone-effect tiles in the atrium are being replaced with flexible sheet flooring. I won’t mention the product, because there is nothing wrong with resilient flooring per se, but for this application it just seems inappropriate. Fine for a school or sports centre, but without getting ideas above my station, the organisations in this building would expect something with a little more prestige.

The ceramic tiles in in the toilets have already been replaced with anti-slip vinyl flooring. While this is a slightly more suitable application, I still didn’t think a replacement was needed. It’s not an improvement aesthetically, as the flooring is now out of step with the white wall tiles in the individual toilet rooms. Furthermore, the men’s has blue and the ladies a light red: for goodness sake, this isn’t a primary school!

To be honest a good scrub would probably have sufficed. The installation isn’t exactly immaculate either and may lead to maintenance problems: there is no coving, and the gaps between the edge of the sheet and the wall will fill up with dirt before long. The thin screed that now covers the atrium and balcony appears to have been poured on top of the tiles, and our office door doesn’t open properly. So how is the new sheet going to fit?

Aesthetic and design considerations aside, it was simply a waste to replace the tiles, although the carpet tiles that covered the stairs and balcony level had reached the end of its life. I suspect anti-slip flooring may have been chosen as an anti-litigious measure, and to give the building a ‘new feel’ for prospective new tenants.

In my view a better use of the money would have been to install some lighting controls for the atrium- it has big fluorescent fittings that burn all day during summer when the space is filled with natural light. There are taps that constantly drip in the disabled cubicle, and the solid wood sliding door is almost too heavy for an able-bodied user to operate. A consultation with the users might have uncovered these issues, or that there is little provision for cycle parking and the smokers might appreciate a shelter.

Isn’t how a building is used just as important, if not more so, than than how it looks?