“Design creates culture. Culture shapes
values. Values determine the future.” -Robert L. Peters
As we have learned over the last year and a half, the spaces we live in matter. They matter to our productivity, our creativity, and overall, to our wellbeing. We have learned that things like color, ergonomics, and flexibility are essential to helping us be successful. At OEC, we asked four designers from different firms to tell us what they are doing to create spaces that inspire, whether that be encouraging people to return to work with confidence or striving toward personal transformation.
Digging A Deep Well
At KovichCo Interiors, inspiration has always been at the heart of the business. Led by its principal, Jordan Yankovich, the 4-and-a-half-year-old firm has skyrocketed in popularity through its various commercial and residential projects. “Inspiration is something that we really take to heart. It is a part of our process, and we never neglect it no matter what the project is.” But in a world of recycling and regurgitation, finding real inspiration is difficult.
Because Jordan tries not to repeat herself, except for the occasional mohair, she has to foster a creative spirit. “As designers, you want to be inspired all the time, so one of our mantras here is to be continually digging a deeper well that you have to draw on when you meet a client. Curiosity is one of our core cultural values, so everyone is expected to go down rabbit holes and share things with the team.” Recently those rabbit holes have come to include anything from design books to Antiques Roadshows.
For KovichCo, the idea of trends does not even register. Instead, they find inspiration by working very closely with their clients to discover what they need to accomplish in the space. “I love building the concept and reaching into the depths. I’ve pulled poetry out of clients or pictures, and they’ll have this look of, ‘Aren’t you going to pick carpet?’” By diving deep into what their clients want, KovichCo can create a more robust vision that appeals to all the senses. In some cases, they will even reselect a chair before they change a fabric. “Textiles are incredibly important both in color and pattern stories, and getting that tactile feel is really important because you want to hit people in all senses. I also believe strongly in the emotional side, not just functionality. I want to know what the space is doing for me emotionally.” While KovichCo may not be the perfect designer for everyone, they certainly are fun, thanks to one of Jordan’s important policies. “If it scares you a little bit, go for it.”
Colors That Inspire
Similar to KovichCo, Megumi Haus at CSHQA also starts with the vision of the client. Because CSHQA has a diverse portfolio with everything from government, aviation, and hospitality, to retail and office, beginning with a substantial client vision is extremely helpful. “Discovering what the client wants is definitely a great place to start. Then it is our job to guide them and give them other options.” However, if left to her own devices, Megumi prefers to pull inspiration from nature by using muted, neutral colors with a bit of color popping throughout. “I tell people; you don’t see a huge orange field in nature. When you walk in the park, you’ll see browns and grays and a little bit of green. So, I try to give a nice neutral palette that they can accessorize.”
Themes That Inspire
Jordyn McKnight from Kieffer Design Group (KDG) designs mainly hotels with some commercial and multifamily projects. With the hospitality industry taking a big hit this past year, creating spaces that inspire people to travel is top of mind for the firm. For one of their recent projects in downtown Boise, they pulled inspiration from the surrounding foothills. “With the foothills in the background, we took this idea of home and incorporated the colors of the foothills, which are pops of blues and indigo.” One of the exciting ways the firm achieved a homey feel was by creating a wall of recycled leather belts. The belt wall is unique in that it immediately puts guests at ease. From there, creating the rest of that feel comes down to spatial layout. “If you design something well, it makes people want to go to that space. Giving them an opportunity to decide if they want to sit in a grouping of four where they can be social, or by themselves helps them feel like they are a part of something.”
Furnishings That Inspire
For Catie Buck at Babcock Design Group, she likes to push clients a little bit out of their comfort zone. “I feel like pushing the envelope amplifies the customization of the space for the client.” Starting with the client’s branding and culture as a foundation, Catie plays with color, texture, and lighting to create an inspirational space. “If there is one thing I could push as a designer, it would be lighting and chairs. They need to make a statement while being comfortable and functional. For me, furniture is like the icing on the cake.”
These designers all have something in common. They are being invited to design in workplaces and homes like never before. People are beginning to realize that designers provide a holistic approach that fosters community and, if they are lucky, leave them inspired.
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