A recent discussion led us to reviewing the role of a business school as part of a universities make up. We thought we’d share some of our thoughts with you.
Currently the Higher Education sector is a most interesting area of design as it is at the intersection of commercial, hospitality and learning environments. Broadly a building which would once have taken its design cues from the corporate world, now sees corporate culture being more influenced by the world of the start-up, co-working spaces and coffee culture as also being places where business is done.
In all sectors Interior Design has a key role to play in how we experience these spaces whether at work or in learning. Let’s look at why.
Space resonates with us as humans — playing a key role in how we feel and perform. The design of any learning and working environment will heavily influence an organisation’s culture, tone of voice and community cohesion.
In the HE context — a business school is a key asset to any university. From a student perspective the department will play a key role in creating the foundation for a future career. As a department it is likely to be visited by important visitors from business, with the most potential to attract external funding.
As a result, the experience of any student or visitor to the building will be heavily influenced by the feel of the interior and the quality of interactions with, and navigation of, the internal spaces. For the a business school to have the desired impact on campus and on a university community, it is essential the design of the interior as well as the exterior is considered with care: the student, teacher and visitor experience are shaped by the internal space.
This is true to any sector. A design project provides an opportunity that goes beyond the material.
It’s the moment to consider setting a new standard in the user experience — a moment to enhance and reposition your brand, to drive the culture of your business, collaboration between individuals, teams, departments or faculties. And in our case for the business school, it’s a time to consider space as a sales tool — one that will provide the first impression to prospective students and business.
How can interior design help?
The synergy between a building and its interior spaces is best achieved when interior design is recognised as being more than the material finishes, more than a sprinkling of paint colours that are derived from brand guidelines.
Our belief is that interior design and the architecture which frames it are of equal importance. Interior designers start and finish their work with the needs of the user — how they will feel and utilise their environment is our primary concern; this shapes the experience of being in the building.
At Hart Miller Design we regard the functional and emotional aspects of a design as having equal value. A thorough approach to interior design will provide a business with a space that will support their approach to work as it evolves and grows now and in the future.
As interior designers, our skill is to plan the use of space to maximise its potential and performance — ensuring a space can support the users in the work they are engaged in. Effective space planning can address needs for private, public and collaborative spaces. It can address the need to be flexible and adaptable to safeguard the investment for now and the future.
A loose fit approach, which we define as seeing that any interior fit out should allow for future fluidity, would see the end-user considering investments in items such as furniture as being key so that the pieces are suitable for longevity and flexibility. Work settings should be able to grow, shrink and be agile.
Even defining where certain activities take place within a building will likely evolve and flex over time. This is how interior design will maximise the potential of a building now and in the future.
And, as you would also expect — designers will add vital layers to well-formed functional spaces with the application of on-trend colours, surface and material finishes, styling, dressing — call it what you will — all these elements work together to contribute to how you feel.