Interior Design Today, Part One

By Jill Duncan, Grant Kanik, Gracie Andraos on June 7, 2017

We sat down with four new members of the HKS interior design team—Jill Duncan, Grant Kanik and Gracie Andraos—to glean their insights about the state of design today. In the first of a two-part story, they share their points of view on the forces driving change for our interior design clients.

What are you working on right now?

[GA] I’m working on The Campus at Legacy West, where we’re rebranding and repositioning the campus as a multi-tenant facility. As the lead design firm for the redevelopment, we’re guiding the client in a direction that will breathe new life into the overall concept. It’s a fast-moving project with a lot of moving parts, but there is a significant opportunity to modernize the facility and emphasize amenities and public spaces.

[GK] In London, we’re doing a project right now for Farrer & Co., one of the oldest law firms in the UK. They have a very rich history, and they’re also known as agile and creative thinkers. They’re based in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the heart of the UK legal industry, and a lot of the buildings there were originally designed as homes. Adapting residential environments into a contemporary workplace has been an incredible opportunity and an engaging design challenge.

What advice do you offer clients looking to leverage workspace to engage employees and attract the best talent?

[JD] We advise our clients to be genuine and look within. The workplace is a visual manifestation of who you are. If clients align workplace with their business and culture, they’ll attract the kind of people that will thrive there.

[GK] My advice to clients is: pay attention to your people, your culture, and how you express your brand. People are attracted to environments that feel authentic, and they are moving away from branding that is overt or forced.

What is the greatest driver for change in the workplace?

[GA] There’s a need for balance between privacy and transparency in the modern workplace. High workstation panels dominated in the past, but we are breaking down those walls to create a more open environment. As we design to strike the right balance between privacy and transparency, we emphasize amenity spaces that provide multifunctional opportunities for either private or group work.

What can workplace designers learn from our colleagues in hospitality design or healthcare design?

[JD] Our colleagues who design interiors for hospitality projects are masters at creating personalized experiences. We see work environments needing to create that sense of connection by being more experience based and welcoming from the moment you enter. Likewise we have a unique perspective about what corporations seek in offsite hospitality venues. By cross pollinating our sector knowledge we bring the latest design insight to both.

[GK] The healthcare team has a sophisticated understanding of the user experience, and the staff and client experiences are the two most important drivers in workplace strategy. That’s why our workplace designers are learning the approach and the tools that our healthcare design colleagues use. Workplace strategy feeds back into healthcare design with tools and processes like performance mapping and space utilization.

Do you have a long-term goal at HKS?

[GA] I’m all about mentoring and collaborating. I want to see our studio and our junior designers grow.

[JD] One personal priority is to make a meaningful difference, always. Often asking the question: are we bringing extra value, are we moving the needle, are we making good things happen and are people following? Internally, this makes us better, and our clients count on us to ask the tough questions that will reveal new approaches. Sometimes the status quo has a purpose, but assuming that is dangerous.

Read part two.

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