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Have you ever walked into an office and just thought, ‘Wow how good does this office look? I would really like to work here.’

That should be the mindset you have when starting the design process.


I see many offices of all different styles and finishes, layouts and furniture. Some look fantastic and make very clever use of the space, and some add character to the business by introducing either great colours or finishes that immediately make an impression. Sometimes there are fun facilities like a company breakout area that might have a pool table, ping-pong table or an Xbox to amuse staff, plus build team spirit.

Other offices have been specifically designed so you can take in the awesome outside views.

I recall a premises I went to visit in North Sydney, Australia. From street level I thought it looked an old, pretty nasty looking building. The lift arrived at level four and the doors opened and ‘WOW’ what a view. It was a crystal clear Sydney morning in May and the harbour views from this building were spectacular. Straight away I could take in the Opera House framed by the Harbour Bridge; the water was just sparkling and the city was shining with the sun’s rays. The building’s full-length exterior windows really took advantage of the awesome harbour view. Yes I could work here.

Now of course we can’t all have harbour views but there are other ways to create great spaces. I have seen other premises with balconies where the designer had installed a barbeque, a gas heater and a funky outdoor setting, added some feature lights, nice cushions and a timber screen to build a great area for staff and casual client meetings. It really worked well for that particular business and this is what you need to think about. What will work best for your business?


Firstly, let’s get a definition of whom we are talking about here, because you will come across this same question in your search to find someone to work with. When I say the word ‘designer’ I mean all the professionals that work in this area of office design. Be it architects, interior designers, draftsmen/draftswomen, engineers and more.


I don’t mean a colour consultant or decorator. These guys are great at colour but they don’t provide the full services that you get from a designer. (For example, a designer also knows whether your building has the required load-bearing specifications for that storage compactus you want.)

You are looking for someone to provide you with a design service to suit your needs. A good designer will advise on many areas including business branding and how you want your new premises to look and feel, the impression your clients and your sta will get when they walk in the front door. A good designer will draw from you all the elements that you want your business premises to be.

They will also understand designing with regard to Work, Health and Safety, building regulations and Disability Discrimination Act compliance. A good design has a number of benefits you’ve not even thought of – like reduced absenteeism and sick days – productivity will be boosted.

It’s the designer’s job also to expand your wish list – you know the one you started back in the detailed thinking stage.

They will take your detailed list and provide specific products and finishes that may be functional, trendy, environmentally friendly, look great, useful or just off the planet amazing if you give them enough design rope.

Designers also understand building – or they should. There’s no point in designing something that your building can’t cope with. For example how services are reticulated throughout the premises, or when a load-bearing structure is required and when it is not.


Like everything, there are advantages and disadvantages of using particular types of businesses to undertake your design. Let me explain.

In the past I have worked with architects – one-man bands and large 100+ employees architectural firms and of course those mid-way firms with between five – twenty employees, all of which have their pros and cons.