Is Good Design Good Business?
by Attila Lawrence
In today's competitive business environment, corporate cultures tend to focus on improving product quality while minimizing costs and managing risks. Too often, the workplace is regarded not as a design opportunity but as a "real estate asset" and a "cost-center."
And yet human productivity, and therefore business profitability, can be greatly enhanced by a well designed, user-responsive office environment. Natural light, comfortable temperatures, and a quiet ambience are not just desirable working conditions: they make good business sense.
Designers can play a crucial role in turning office interiors into value-enhancing support systems for business strategies. To exploit these opportunities, they must go beyond conventional thinking about function in the programming phase of design projects. They must also consider qualitative issues linking specific features of the physical environment with human performance.
Current research demonstrates how certain design features affect productivity, and how productivity affects the bottom line of even high-technology and fast-growing corporations. Most importantly, this research can prove invaluable in helping a designer persuade a client about the corporate and shareholder benefits of good design.
Research suggests that a well designed workplace can increase employee productivity by as much as 20 percent. This was the conclusion of a recent study, "How Design Increases Productivity: Expert Insights," published by the American Society of interior Designers. This report and other studies confirm the relationship between productivity and design factors such as access, comfort, privacy, and flexibility. They claim that building interiors that produce desirable physical, emotional, and psychological responses ultimately support corporate goals.
The Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas, by Fentress Bradburn Architects, is surrounded by a natural landscape. Sited to minimize occupant exposure to air pollutants, it supports human creativity and overall performance.
Photo: Attila Lawrence
The recently completed School of Architecture at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV), designed by Swisher and Hall Architects, attracts increasing numbers of student and faculty to engage in creative activities supported by high technology.
Image: Swisher and Hall Architects
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