The Design Phase: Where Aesthetics Meet Functionality
Updated: May 4
THE DESIGN PHASE:
WHERE AESTHETICS MEET FUNCTIONALITY
An understanding of how aesthetics and functionality
merge to create a balanced design,
and how the result can benefit your space.
HOW DOES IT BENEFIT YOUR SPACE?
First impressions can be long-lasting. Creating a "wow factor" the moment you enter a space can give your company an edge and create a memorable impression. A space should be representative of the company's core values and culture. An impression of a company begins the moment a space is entered, however; the initial impact is not only dependent on the look and feel of a space, but also on the functionality of the operation.
It is crucial to consider the users of the space, and what it takes for them to be productive. (Check out our blog, "The Importance of Programming" for a great read on how to gather this information!) Whether it is a long-time employee, a visitor, or a potential recruit, you want the people coming into your space to feel comfortable. A well-designed space can be very beneficial for onboarding and employee retention. Employees want the space they spend most of their day in to be comfortable, efficient, and beautiful. People are more likely to be productive and happy to come to work if they feel comfortable in their space. Happy employees help create a better company culture, which is a leading factor in attracting young talent.
GOOD DESIGN IS COMPRISED OF TWO FACTORS:
FUNCTIONALITY AND AESTHETIC
A well-designed space cannot be achieved without both functionality and aesthetics.
Functional design is the process of examining what the intended use of space is and how to improve it to create a more productive and efficient space.
"Form follows function" is a standard design principle that explains functional design. Originally coined by architect Louis Sullivan, this concept speaks on the fundamentals of design emphasizing function over aesthetics. The main point made by Sullivan was, if the aesthetics do not add to the functionality of a space, it should not be included in the design. While this idea was first used as an architectural principle, designers of many professions continue to celebrate this and use it to this day.
Functionality is at the forefront of design because spaces need to be designed based on the people in the space. Just because something is aesthetically pleasing and goes with the design scheme doesn’t mean it will be comfortable, functional, or promote productivity. For example, sitting in an uncomfortable chair for eight hours reflects a bad design choice. Without considering functionality in the design process, the office space will look good but won't support productivity or comfort.
Aesthetic design is the branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of beauty and artistic taste. Designers use aesthetics to complement their designs’ usability, and so enhance functionality with attractive layouts.
Aesthetics can elevate a bland, one-note space to something that gives a wow factor. Designers can use existing finishes to round out a palette, adding emphasis and balance, or they can create a new palette from project inspiration or branding.
One’s initial reaction to a space is primarily based on aesthetics. The initial reaction is important to set the right mood. Aesthetic design has the ability to make the user feel the emotion of the space. For example, in a start-up company, you may want people who walk into the space to feel the energy and buzz tied to a young, up-and-coming company. On the other hand, when entering a spa, you want your user to feel calm and serene.
HOW CAN AESTHETICS HELP
Aesthetics should be used to complement the functionality of the space. Aesthetic design choices aid the user to understand how the space is meant to be utilized. A pop of color behind a reception desk can draw the visitor's eye into the space and make them gravitate toward the receptionist. Graphics can also be used to aid in functionality. For example, wall graphics can put emphasis on space or help with wayfinding.
A WELL-BALANCED DESIGN
There are plenty of measurable results that you should immediately notice after you have implemented a new design. The designer, through the programming process, should have identified any inefficiencies in your previous space and created a functional solution for your inefficiencies. Improved morale seems to be one of the first and most noticeable results that you should expect to see, and for many, is also the most rewarding.