The way spatial and design elements are used in residential and commercial projects vary a lot because of the needs of the client and the premise of the brief. While in private residential projects, the spatial diagram and use of materials need to work with the client’s lifestyle and aesthetic tastes, the design for commercial projects needs to work on more levels because it’s to do with the brand presentation as well as functionality, says Katerina Dionysopoulou and Billy Mavropoulos, Founders, London-based Bureau de Change
Our central London showroom of online furniture brand made.com, had to represent the brand in a way that would reach new audiences, whilst fulfilling the expectations of existing customers. This was challenging because the brand showcases thousands of products online. The design solution we adapted was to blend physical product with full-scale projections in a series of room sets. Customers are guided through a network of white-washed walls – curved like the pages of a book (referencing the literary history of Charing Cross Road). These walls provide a clean backdrop for the furniture and a canvas upon which products can be projected. The use of large format projection means a single room can show multiple combinations of product, changeable on demand. This opens up the possibility for customers to experience the full product catalogue without requiring a hangar-like showroom or costly central storage facilities
Commercial space a globally uniform concept, beyond cultural limitations?
Local design sensitivities, materials, fabrication methods and history are what we find exciting and broadening about working in overseas markets. Research forms a large part of our design process and we often make connections with the history of a site. We are interested in how the previous users have left their mark on a building or place and how this residue can be embossed within the texture of the design. Whilst change and progress is important, buildings should also have a sensitivity to their surrounding cultural landscape.
Informality in commercial spaces
The design language of workspaces is becoming much more varied, creating spaces that are more ‘human’ in quality and scale. With more remote working and communications, we seem to be moving away from the corporate open plan office space into a work environment that’s more fragmented and intimate. Splitting the office space up in this way provides the opportunity to use materials, colours and textures in an unexpected way, creating spaces which feel more appropriate for their intended use. Eg: for meetings which are purposefully informal, it makes sense to create an intimate environment specifically for that, rather than go against the grain with a sleek board room.
Spatial elements and viewers’ experience of spaces
For us, it’s the combination of spatial and design elements that creates an impact. We look at space as a whole and consider how materials, textures and colour can be distributed to create transitions in atmosphere throughout the building circulation. Visual or auditory contrasts emboss the atmospheric qualities of individual spaces, creating a kind of drama that leaves an impression on the user.
Sustainable elements into buildings or spaces
Rather than shoehorn sustainable elements into buildings or spaces, we think they should be integral to the concept and design from the beginning. As opposed to planting solar panels onto the building, it’s about utilising or integrating sustainable elements into order to manifest design elements, in an often-unexpected way. In terms of efficiency, it’s also about longevity and usability. The spatial diagram is a natural starting point for us and we consider in depth the lifespan of the project in terms of its materiality and the fabrication methods we use.