We were recently asked by a client to design several “Frankenlabs:” small laboratories with a variety of details, furniture and layouts that are a testing ground for a separate, larger project. Designing and specifying laboratory furniture is as complex as the processes and discoveries that will occur within, on and around it. Determining design goals and criteria can be overwhelming when faced with “Frankenlab” design freedom.
To help narrow down design criteria for specific investigation, we needed to help the client and ourselves identify the design problems. To facilitate this, we assembled a catalogue of Payette’s recently completed and “seminal” laboratory projects. The catalogue consisted of photos and technical drawings of everything related to the laboratory spaces for about 11 projects. We commandeered some pinup space and posted a collage of photos and details. It was eye-opening to see the spread of variety in bench configuration, shelf quantity, shelf density, bench support/frame design, lighting strategies, color, casework configuration, seating, connections, raceways, etc. We anticipate that we will be able to use the collage to help the client identify focus areas for our “Frankenlabs.”
The simple process of collecting information, pinning up, stepping back and getting feedback reinforced how critical it is to leverage our own office to develop design, talk about design, and create design ideas as a firm and not just a design team. It reaffirmed the adage that we should always be striving to do something better and try something different than what we did before. And it will inspire great design.