Delving deeper than decor to explore the power of home as a path to wellbeing #happyinside

February 9, 2021

Interior Design Masters: Episode 2

Offices: lessons 3 + 4

The brief: design a sophisticated office space that includes three clear zones — space for working, room for meetings and a “breakout zone” for creativity or quiet time. The location is a premium, contemporary workspace with shared communal lounges, modern kitchen areas, an in-house gym and café. Supplied furniture is all from high-specification Scandinavian brands like Menu, Gubi, Hay, Hem and Vitra, and quality finishes abound. Designers will work in teams of three, but each one must take a zone as their own.

Each group has been given a different fictional brand to design for: an established tech company looking for “a cool and dynamic office space to appeal to its progressive workforce”; a media PR company that wants an “exciting and inspirational workspace for its sociable workforce”; and a sustainable beauty brand in need ofn”new premises to attract its socially conscious employees”.

IDM2 Alan and Michelle discuss the week’s brief

Interior Design Masters

IDM2 Episode 2: This week we were clearly channelling the same sartorial vibe. #twins

If show homes were about selling a dream, then designing an office is seduction!

The entire landscape of office-based work has radically changed in the last year. Before Covid, shared workspaces were promoted as the antidote to the traditional corporate space, but today, even these look less attracive in favour of WFH. The big design question then is what’s needed to entice us away from the security of our homes and back to work elsewhere?

After all, i think the demise of the office is over-stated. Human beings are innately social creatures and we need to come together to get things done. But, if businesses are smart, offices will be smaller and used as 3 day/week hub points for shared learning, innovation and collaboration.

To succeed then, a designer needs to delve into the benefits of meeting up with colleagues IRL, rather than working remotely. Customising a space to feel like a sort of private member’s club that you really want to join. Comfort certainly has to be key — elements of ‘home’ — but a professional version, not a cosy one.

It should also be about connection, community and a cohesive brand identity. If you’re working in  a shared space, you need to be able to walk in and immediately be able to identify your team, know where to park your laptop, and where to get a cup of tea.

IDM2 Episode 2: View from the other side of my on-screen office, where the judging happens!

IDM2 Episode 2: Behind the scenes, where the judging happens!

Key will be absorbing design ideas from around them — the building as well as their teammates — and seeing how a similar language can be incorporated into their own designs, but with the aim of lifting everything up, not compromising and diluting.

The creative use and layout of the furniture is also paramount. The devices built or used to partition one area from another, and the fulsome and bold use of wall and/or floor treatments.

The finished designs must also subscribe to the design-led ethos and style of the building as a whole. Albeit there were certain constraints: the floor tiles cannot be changed, nor doors or windows painted, or ceiling lights or blinds removed.

Interior Design Masters

IDM2 Episode 2: View from the big chief’s chair.

Interior Design Masters

IDM2 Episode 2: Paul, Siobhan and Barbara: dream team? You’ll have to watch to find out!

IDM2 Episode 2: Behind the scenes at the studio. Alan getting his mic fitted

Lesson Three

Avoid designerly clichés

There was a time in the mid 90s when design went through a ‘fun’ phase and many offices looked more like children’s play centres than adult workspaces.

Grown-ups do not need primary colours and bean bags to be productive, nor egg-shaped pods to be creative. All any of us need is good daylight, ergonomic furniture, space to focus and space to come together as a team. This applies to pretty much any space you care to consider.

Interior Design Masters Episode 2: what’s Siobhan up to? Making stools?

Interior Design Masters Episode 2: Team Beauty Brand, upholster Michaela, former doctor Peter and textile artist Charlotte, before…

Lesson Four

Engage the imagination

Imagination is a word that seems to get missed out of many conversations about design. We love to talk of colour theory and function, layout and zoning, but what of those flights of fancy that provoke original thinking and clever problem-solving when the obvious moves are not possible?

Imagination in design is the ability to think of something that the client couldn’t have conceived by themselves. It is the ability to think laterally when it’s clear that something cannot be done as initially visualised. It is the very essence of creativity, otherwise surely we’d all be designers? And I’m not sure it can be taught. I think you either have it, or you don’t.

It’s ultimately what distinguishes those spaces that truly uplft you, from those that just serve a purpose. As they say, constraints can be the mother of all invention, if you choose to see it that way.

Interior Design Masters Episode 2: Michelle Ogundehin and guest judge Linda Boronkay

IDM Episode 2: Michelle Ogundehin and guest judge Linda Boronkay debate offices.

this week’s Guest judge

This week’s guest judge, Linda Boronkay, was formerly the Design Director of the Soho House Group. As such, it was Linda who made ‘soho house’ into an adjective with her seemingly effortless melange of vintage and modern, cosy comfort and generous easy living with which the brand became synonymous.

Now out on her own as a designer, her recipe for success? “Interior design for me is about creating a fantasy, a safe haven and an unforgettable experience. It’s about how objects, colours, lights, or the lack of these, make you feel. It’s the emotional response to the physical world that excites me.”

Linda Boronkay Design Studio

Linda Boronkay, Interior Design Masters guest judge in Episode 2

And finally… MY Wardrobe notes

Added because people always ask, and I can’t respond to every message individually! Note too that these are all my own clothes, and I rarely wear ‘in season’ clothing. I’m more of a ‘classics’ girl. Which I mention bcause most of the pieces are at least a year or so old, if not more so. Ps My top tip for ‘designer’ wear? The Outnet. Great stuff regularly upto 70% off. (Not an ad. Just sharing 😉

Briefing: Pale pink Tibi top with flared sleeves; blue patterned ‘S Max Mara trousers; white Malone Soulier loafers

Viewing: 3.1 Philip Lim jacket; Les Soeurs navy blue jumpsuit (from The Tidy Street General Store in Brighton); white Malone Soulier loafers

Judging: Peter Pilotto silk shirt; ‘S Max Mara jeans; Marc Jacobs jewelled peep-toe heels

IDM2 EPisode Two: ready to stride in and set the week’s brief.

PS If you missed Series One of Interior Design Masters, you can watch it now on Netflix or BBCiPlayer.

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5 replies »

  1. Really enjoying this year’s series. Your behind the scenes notes are are golden nuggets of information and instruction. Finally totally frivolous but I love your wardrobe details. Thank you!

  2. I am loving the series so far. Having worked in open plan and individual offices I notice there is nowhere in the mostly impressive solutions for properly quiet or private meetings and/or work. LB was an incisive co-judge – a great collaboration. And the master classes are a special treat!

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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends, wellbeing and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.