In Conversation

climate change

Climate Change: From a Commercial Interior Design Perspective

By In Conversation

The Chairman of Chameleon Business Interiors discusses how the commercial interior design industry needs to take responsibility for sustainability as the climate change crisis worsens.

Climate change has already had serious, observable effects on the environment. More frequent and extreme droughts and storms have been experienced along with wild bush fires, intense heat waves, unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels, warming oceans and more. Just as the scientists predicted, we are now experiencing these effects of climate change which are expected to worsen if change doesn’t happen.

The construction industry is responsible for 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking water pollution, 50% of landfill waste and 50% of ozone depletion, according to a study conducted by Willmott Dixon, which is disturbingly high. Being part of the construction industry, it is important that we try to influence and lead change towards becoming a more sustainable industry as a whole.  Every single choice we make as commercial interior designers impacts climate change. Whether that be the materials, furniture or construction methods we choose, it all effects the environment.

I have always believed that what we put into our workspaces, influences health and well-being. Finishes, furniture, lighting and spatial arrangements all influence how you feel which carries, through into the work you do. With both sustainability and wellness at the forefront of our minds when designing spaces, it makes for a better quality of life for both humans and nature.

Sustainability in design is no longer an option, it is a necessity. With public engagement in climate change increasing, and the crisis itself worsening, it is becoming ever more important for the industry to take action towards becoming more sustainable; both the world needs it and the public expects it. As an organisation, one of our core values is integrity, meaning all of our decisions are based on strong moral principles which feeds into ensuring sustainability is at the forefront of our work.

Workspaces now need to focus around sustainability as well as employees. They need to have a low carbon impact as well as catering to the human needs of variety, collaboration and comfort. It is inevitable, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, that workspaces will needs to change, accommodating cultural, societal changes and evolving organisational needs which incurs a carbon cost. I recommend that it is carefully considered how you ‘spend’ your carbon and whether it is as sustainable as possible.

Designing with longevity, flexibility and a low carbon impact in mind, will ensure the most ethical and sustainable ways of redesigning your office interior. Additionally, interior designers have power through specification. Checking that suppliers are sustainable, using sustainable materials or making changes towards becoming more sustainable will help to promote change within the industry.

What are you doing to become more sustainable and drive the industry towards change?

Shaun Watts, Chairman of Chameleon Business Interiors

Return to the office

In Conversation: Returning to the Office

By In Conversation

We sat down with Kevin McIntosh, our Head of Design to discuss his thoughts on returning to the office.

You have worked in commercial interior design for over 20 years and worked on countless projects, how have you seen the office space change over time?

KM: There has been a massive change in office spaces since the start of my career. At the start of my career, Approved Document M had only just been introduced which started to make workspaces more accessible for everyone, so a lot of my initial designing was spent making workspaces more accessible for people. There was the transition into businesses opting for open plan office spaces which involved a lot of removing walls and providing a new contemporary feel to the office through design. However, we soon saw the downfall of the open plan office with businesses experiencing difficulties with noise control and privacy which then naturally led onto to the more cellularised offices that we see today. These involve sort of broken up areas that flow into one another all with their own purpose such as closed off meeting rooms, flexi-working desks, collaboration spaces and so on. There’s definitely been a lesson to learn about the functionality of office spaces.

Is the office still important?

KM: Massively important. While there is never a one size fits all approach to this and that’s what makes my job so interesting, I still believe for the majority that the office is vital for successful operations. If anything, almost two years of remote working has shown us that the office is more important than ever to provide collaboration, sociability and innovation which both we need and businesses need to survive. I think we will see further changes to office spaces as a result of the new purpose of the office with things like the use of breakout rooms as a necessity not a luxury unlike before.

How can design be used to encourage employees to return to the office and the attract and retain new talent?

KM: There’s definitely been a move towards what we in the industry call a destination office which is essentially a hub for employees that provides them with a reason to come to the office and a location where everything is. Essentially, the office is now being used for collaboration and innovation and remote working is being used for the more solo tasks that require focus and time. It is important that the office provides the correct facilities for employees that enable and encourage collaboration and innovation which can be done through elements such as meeting spaces for various group sizes.

What do you see the office space like in the future?

KM: The office is becoming ever more employee-centric. The pandemic has demonstrated how we can work remotely  which has led to the office needing to cater to what employees need and want from the office in order to facilitate their return. I feel a lot of trends have accelerated as a result of the pandemic and it is likely that we will see an increase in cellularised office spaces featuring flexi-working spaces, breakout spaces, comfort areas, collaboration area, meeting rooms and kitchenettes with coffee facilities.

Thinking about refurbishing your office? Get in touch with us today.