Digital technology and design trends have changed the expectations of the modern office worker. Hip co-working spaces are popping up everywhere, with fast wi-fi, single-origin coffees and interiors that look like a boutique Brooklyn hotel. Meanwhile mobile devices and a plethora of smart collaborative apps is fuelling the rise of remote working. Faced with this kind of competition, the sterile cubicle-filled offices of yesteryear can look decidedly drab and unappealing.
While the Silicon Valley behemoths install slides and tree houses into their workspaces, environmental graphics are a more prosaic approach to creating an inspiring office. Here are several ways you can revitalise your workspace to impress your clients and enhance the mood and productivity of staff:
Reception and Lobby Areas
The reception desk is the first touch point for visitors, so it’s a great opportunity to make a strong client impression. A company logo behind the desk is an obvious starting point, from simple and cost effective vinyl wall decals applied directly to the wall surface, to flat cut acrylic logos with polished edges. These can be flush mounted directly to a wall or desk, or fitted with spacers to create a 3D effect. For a more premium look, brushed steel or mirror effect acrylic can be used. For a real show-stopper, built-up letters with LED backlighting to give a halo illumination are guaranteed to impress.
Lobby areas can be transformed with a tension fabric system (TFS), either front-lit or backlit to create a stunning lightbox. These are great for bold on-brand graphics, or to showcase art and photography as part of a CSR scheme. Photographs and illustrations can also be printed to exhibition grade dibond panels for a sleek contemporary look, or printed onto canvas for something more traditional.
TFS graphics can also be used as soft signage for office wayfinding; the interchangeable graphics means the wayfinding signage can be easily updated when required.
Creative environmental graphics are a great way to enhance the office space, and may even help boost employee mood and productivity!
Walls can be decorated in a variety of ways. Vinyl wall decals can be cut and applied directly to painted surfaces. Paired with the right paint colour, this can be used for a very crisp, contemporary look. Digitally printed wallpaper can be used for full height wall murals, and custom printed with any supplied illustration or photograph. Try a soothing landscape for a calm, serene open plan office, or perhaps a colourful graffiti-influenced graphic to energise a studio.
For workspaces with glass partitioning, DDA requirements specify that full height glass must have manifestation graphics applied to ensure staff or visitors don’t accidentally walk into it. Typically, these take the form of standard dots or bands, but this needn’t be the case. Glass graphics provide another opportunity to create a visually interesting space, or to extend the brand message. Frosted vinyl can be cut into a variety of patterns for a subtle effect that allows for plenty of daylight. Printed window films are a relatively new technology: the advances in materials has led to optically clear films that — when installed correctly — look like the graphic has been printed directly on the glass itself. A custom designed graphic can be applied over multiple sections of glass, creating a visual focal point for an entire office. Alternatively, graphics can be different for individual rooms or zones, acting as both decoration and subtle wayfinding.
Tension fabric systems can be suspended to hide any unsightly ceilings, or used as freestanding dividers for breaking up large open plan spaces to create various areas. When mounted to walls, they can also be fitted with acoustic foam panels which help reduce noise within a room, ideal for busy offices with handling lots of phone calls.
Lifts, lobbies, waiting areas and corridors see a lot of traffic, but are spaces that we either hurry through or twiddle our thumbs in. These dull transitional areas can be improved with appealing graphics that give you something interesting to look at while waiting for the copy machine to become free.
Printed vinyl wraps can be applied to lift doors and interiors, perfect for a flash of whimsy. Corridors can become slimline gallery spaces: photographs of brand-related products or services can be reversed printed onto perspex and mounted on chrome spacers for a super glossy, high-end finish.
Breakout areas are frequently used for extending brand messaging. Again, cut vinyl decals can be applied to brightly painted wall: typographic arrangements of brand values, company mission statements and inspirational quotes remain popular choices. To stand out, consider using a glossy vinyl against a satin paint of the same colour, for a sophisticated tone-on-tone look. A well designed piece of bespoke typography will look better than a few words set in Arial, especially if paired with a metallic vinyl such as gold or gunmetal.
Meeting and Boardrooms
For rooms where privacy is paramount, glass graphics can be printed to allow light to pass through, whilst obscuring detail. Designs can range from a minimalist white fade obscuring just part of the glass, to a full height graphic. As these rooms are more specialised, they often benefit from a more daring graphic than you might use in the rest of the office. Full colour graphics work exceptionally well in rooms that receive a lot of daylight, transforming partitions into an exciting, modern alternative to stained glass.