Offices started out as rooms of moderate size. The prototype was the library or study used by aristocratic 'gentlemen' or the consulting room of professionals. Such an office is by nature, private.
With the advent of larger organisations, businesses, government agencies, banks and brokerages, another kind of office appeared; an office for staff with several people sharing one open space. This style is often referred to as the 'American' style of office.
The modern 'open' office is the result of a particular planning approach that was first tried around 1960. One important element of any office, however, is the reception area.
The reception area is the first thing people see when they walk into an office building. It creates an impression about the office. So it's surprising how few of them are actually well designed. They are supposed to be a key focal point, and so special care has to be taken in the design to make them warm and welcoming for visitors.
Form and Colour: These are vital issues when planning a reception corner. The interior wall could be made from rotating wood panels or dazzling glass blocks. It could be painted a bright colour, or otherwise made colourful with the use of posters, signboards or art displays. A bold, dramatic colour on the reception-area wall creates an impact. The wall could be a curved one, provided there is enough space. Changing the form or texture of the wall is a small way to make a big change.
The reception area is characterised by furniture and finished in neutral tones meant to enhance the sense of airiness and accessibility. Furniture may also play an important role in making the place look more attractive.
Reception Desk: The reception desk or table is the focal point of this corner, so it has to be dynamic and dramatic as well as functional. The reception table is always an individual piece of furniture, which is not similar to any other type of office furniture.
The typical height for reception desks is 30"-34" and they come with counter tops that help maintain the secrecy of the paperwork that passes through this area, and helps maintain the privacy of the receptionist(s). Arrangements should be made for telephones, computers, PABX machines, etc.
Sofa: Plush sofas with bright upholstery look smart and trendy. Corporate colours can be used in the upholstery for sofas in the reception areas in banks, insurance and law chambers, etc. For hospitals and other more public areas, synthetic fabrics or leather can be used for easy maintenance.
Coffee table and magazine: Tables are useful for doing small, emergency paperwork on, but large tables are hard to incorporate into small areas. A small coffee table often does the trick. A slick magazine rack can be a good source of entertainment for the visitor.
False ceiling and lighting: People today love to use attractive false ceilings in the reception area, which look nice and help hide ugly electrical wiring. Lighting is essential. Tube-lights work serve general purposes, spotlights create a special illuminative effect, and picture lights are also popular. Lighting should be selected according to the other elements present in the reception area.
Painting and plants: A home or an office without art is like an empty bowl. Art displays add colour and character to any office space, and particularly the reception area. Green plants bring in a fresh and welcoming feeling into the area.
Designs make corporate images. They inspire workers. They impress potential clients and visitors. They make businesses work better. They help shape corporate culture and influence people who come in contact with them. The design of offices is integral to the success of the organisation.
By Nazneen Haque Mimi
Photos: Mohidul Islam