An office is a home away from home, a place many people will spend almost half of their waking hours. But while we can organise and redecorate our homes to meet our comfort and needs, offices are all too often inflexible and unproductive.
“There are far too many offices that are simply not functional,” says interior architect Eric Boudart.
“They can be too noisy or there might be a light that’s creating glare on your screen. It might sound stupid, but it doesn’t matter if an office looks nice if you get into trouble the moment you start to move around. These offices can limit our freedom and prevent us from delivering on our potential, even if you’re not aware of it.”
Eric and fellow interior designer André Peeters have collaborated for more than 30 years, and are responsible for helping NORNORM’s clients to create productive, healthy and optimal workspaces.
“We start by identifying the main functions that they need, from receptions, offices, lounge areas, focus areas and coffee corners, for example. But there is much more to consider when designing the perfect office. You need to create the right movement flows and understand where people are entering and leaving from. The design needs to limit traffic around spaces where there is concentrated work, and create lounge areas that stimulate collaboration and informal meetings,” says André.
Form follows function
Eric and André help clients to look beyond their assumptions by proposing non-traditional solutions that maximise the functionality of a space.
“We help clients to figure out what can be done differently by finding new ways to structure and organise offices. We have to understand what a client needs, but most of the time they aren’t yet aware of what they really want, or need,” says Eric.
The goal is to create offices that make people happy, not just because they work better, but because they deserve it too. And for this to happen, workspaces both need to serve the needs of users, and also feel good to be in too.
“Form follows function,” says Eric. “Wellbeing is not simply about the ergonomics of furniture and the acoustics of a space, but it’s also how things look.”
Eric and André have created 12 different style expressions that can match many different settings. From desks and seating, to lighting and decor, the style expressions capture a Nordic aesthetic of simple shapes, clean lines and natural colours.
“We want people’s needs and activities to be supported in a functional manner and in an outstanding visual environment,” says André. “When you add in an understanding of flow, daylight, acoustics and all of the possibilities a building offers, you end up supporting creativity and collaboration.”