We caught up with Ellie Ross, the Cork-based interior architect and designer who was tasked with fitting out the Voxpro – powered by TELUS International Dublin and Cork offices. She talked industry trends and the art of inspiring employees with design.
Could you give us a brief insight into how you approached the design of the Voxpro – powered by TELUS International offices and where you drew your inspiration from?
A key design approach for Voxpro was to take on board the energy and vibrancy of the brand. Voxpro places such a strong emphasis on setting itself apart and creating an employee-centric environment, so it was paramount that the spaces reflected this.
What industry trends are you currently witnessing?
The ‘industrial’ look has become very popular with large office spaces. This type of design sees exposed ventilation and electrics on ceilings; elements that act as a backdrop rather than a feature. Dark colours and contrasting metal finishes are also popular and tend to provide a space with an open plan and relaxed feel. The industrial approach allows for opportunities to create more contemporary ceilings and features in smaller spaces.
In your view, what are the most important elements of a workplace design that help engage, inspire and improve the wellbeing of employees?
While comfort is an important feature for employees and our spaces and furniture orientation is always designed with the end user in mind, I believe that the most crucial element of engaging employees is to ensure that they feel like they are part of a micro community and that they have the ability to work and develop with the company in groups of shared experiences.
A given cluster of employees will experience their days in a similar way with a range of stimuli – such as lighting, sound and colour – impacting their day-to-day activity. This collective experience helps foster work relationships and can be achieved in various subtle ways such as through exposure to inspirational imagery. While it is important that the workplace is comfortable, I believe that if you can develop positive relationships with your co-workers, it will enhance dramatically the workplace experience. Suitable and sophisticated design can go a long way to helping achieve this.
Do you believe staff should have some input into office design if it is a refurbishment?
It’s important that all users of a space have a voice and input into their work environment. It’s the designer’s job to integrate these voices and distil the requests into the essence of what’s needed instead of what’s wanted. The experience of team leaders is key to this.
The UXUI (user experience and user interface) of how employees use their spaces – from the main entrance, to lockers or coffee spaces, to an employee’s desk – is of great importance, as is the quality of these areas and how they are used. Quite often, the end user or employee will focus on a small or minute – albeit important – detail rather than look at the bigger picture. It’s the designer’s job to filter and prioritise these elements.
Would you say there are there any drawbacks for an employer in having ‘quirky’ or vibrant offices?
There are drawbacks to every design, and there are always elements – especially experimental ones – that prove more impractical than they appeared at the outset. Strong lighting and sounds or particularly vibrant colours can sometimes be distracting and over-stimulating in a work environment.
However, once a lighting and colour scheme has been thought through and successfully practiced by means of 3D modelling or montaging, having a quirky space can be really refreshing. Elements such as the glitter balls that we integrated into various Voxpro spaces are often introduced in areas that encourage chat or movement, while more consistent and neutral colour palettes with splashes of lighting or colour are used in creative ways for work stations. In short, vibrant design elements can be very exciting in areas meant for group activities.
Any key advice you can share for employers considering investment in a new office fit out?
Budget is paramount. I would advise that they set aside a substantial amount for materials. The standard of the finish can make or break a project so it’s best not to compromise on quality. While often the client may not be prepared for the primary costs of equipment or furniture, it is important to remember that it’s the finish that people will talk about.
In conclusion, it’s about delivering the dream office for the employer as much as it is for the employee so, in the case of Voxpro, we tried to deliver on Voxpro’s mantra – dream big!
Ellie Ross is an interior architect and designer with GCA Architects & Designers
Last year, the Voxpro – powered by TELUS International Dublin office featured on Officelovin, an online platform focused on innovative office architecture and design. Did you know that Voxpro has its own garden? Read all about the Voxgro Project here.
If your company is interested in delivering a beautiful customer experience from state-of-the-art offices (and gardens!) like these, give us a shout.