A big part of design, and certainly the most visible, are the materials we choose for a space and how they are used and composed. These materials are what make a space feel classic or edgy, hard or soft, relaxing or energizing. They can make a space feel familiar or they can take on new, innovative forms and challenge our expectations. But what I believe is even more important for a well designed space is how it allows us to seamlessly do what we need to do within it – and if this aspect is done really well, we won’t even realize it.
A large portion of the design conversations for office spaces focus on providing a productive environment that includes all the amenities that make your workday enjoyable. It is not only about designing a space that looks cool, it is about providing privacy from distractions and meeting spaces for collaboration. In a restaurant the overall aesthetic can set the mood, but the experience is remembered by things like how efficiently the staff move around and provide service and whether the acoustics of the space allow a diner to hear the conversation at their table. In a hotel we all appreciate high end finishes, but ultimately we want easily navigable halls and a quiet room with a comfortable bed and an accessible plug for our phone.
The goals with designing laboratories are the same. As we design this lab, we have not talked at length about what the highly technical spaces with equipment will look like. Instead, we have been focused on ideas – for instance what will allow the users to move through their day without hassle and inspire them to develop innovative ideas. We are considering how to make the space enjoyable to be in throughout the day, and how to create an identity for the institution. It is about thinking beyond the obvious and creating a place that people are excited to be a part of.