Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be one of our designers? Paul Dare, head of design in London, talks about why he chose the world of commercial interiors, the behind-the-scenes of office design and what he hopes to see in the future.

Paul Dare

Head of Design

19th Oct 2021

How did you start your office design career?

As a child, I’ve always been creative so it was just a matter time until I recognised my strengths. When I was young, I was exposed to lots of the traditional professions you’d expect - doctor, lawyer, architect and so on. But I was forever drawing - even in my earliest memories, I can see myself drawing.

I remember my first glimpse of the world that existed alongside architecture. I found it all really thrilling. My uncle, an architect, took me to his studio. It was incredible to see models, drawings and photographs of his completed buildings. I understood that there were plumbers, bricklayers and a whole world of trades that were all linked through the design and sketches to take things from concept to reality.

Paul Dare office design London

What’s so special about office design and build?

I really bought into the psychology of office design. Right from the start, I’ve always thought it’s fascinating that a physical environment can impact peoples’ behaviour. And, more than that, it can actually make them feel happy, productive and fulfilled, or grumpy, unmotivated and unsatisfied.

When you dig a little deeper, you begin to see how even varying industries, sectors and businesses require different things for their employees. Perhaps more specialised lighting in laboratories, quiet areas and sound acoustics in confidential settings, or vibrant breakouts in startups. Discovering the unique composition of what each space can offer is special.

I love to observe and analyse people to see how they engage with a space. What do they take away from their experience? How do they feel? What has supported them throughout the day? We spend more time in the office than at home. I really believe that a successful office design is one that replicates the comfort and ‘sanctuary’ factor of home in some meaningful way. Sometimes discovering that the smallest change will make the biggest impact is the most rewarding part of the day.

Young people discussing cool office design

What is one thing you would change about the office design industry?

Like all sectors, change and growth takes time. It can be frustrating to remain patient when things don’t feel as though they’re moving fast enough.

The most recent example is the adoption and acceptance of technology in commercial settings, which has largely been driven by the pandemic.

These technologies - digital receptions and online desk-booking systems, for example - have been around for a long time. Until now, clients have been reluctant. We see many who want to wait for the technologies to be proven first, despite their obvious advantages. The pandemic has encouraged many to jump into more agile, innovative ways of working and engagement.

Living wall in conference room desig

What gets you excited about office design?

It’s the creation part that gets me out of bed. The client's brief will always need further investigation and often it’s not even a true reflection of what they’re after. We dissect the brief, look at examples, understand their needs, desires and unique culture. We look at the failings and successes of their existing workspace. We take all of that and try to distil it into a workable solution that ticks all the boxes.

It’s truly something special when those scraps of paper and sparks of inspiration become walls in a physical space. And, of course, the absolute highlight of the entire process is handover day when staff walk around for the first time. Is that my desk? Hey, look at that furniture. Who wants a coffee in the new breakout area? I can see the river from here! It’s incredible to see the excitement; each person going around exploring all the newness and experiencing the space fully. It’s magic.

Body Shop handover office fit out