The concept of simplifying design is often hailed as an ideal, but it can sometimes result in interiors that feel sterile and devoid of emotion. While simplicity is certainly a commendable quality in the realm of design, it is essential to strike a delicate balance. When a space is inhabited, the natural inclination is to infuse it with elements that evoke warmth and a sense of humanity. This may involve painting over stark white walls, adorning them with captivating artworks, and introducing soft touches that foster comfort. In essence, it's not that simplicity itself is the problem, but rather an overemphasis on it to the exclusion of other essential aspects.

This brings us to the well-known design mantra of "form follows function." However, the notion that form and function are entirely separate entities is an oversimplification. In truth, form and function are intrinsically linked and they should be regarded as interconnected elements that mutually enhance one another. Altering the form of a design element will undoubtedly have an impact on its functionality, and vice versa.

After a fashion

Quoting supposed design rules may be seen as fashionable, but it presents a conundrum. As Coco Chanel famously stated, "Fashion fades, only style remains the same." Fashion is transient and is replaced by new trends over time. The same applies to office design.

However, it is worth noting that the stylish environments and products we admire today were once considered new fashion themselves. They have stood the test of time because they possess certain qualities that make them enduring and timeless. They either lack the offensive qualities found in their counterparts or possess a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them universally appealing. As designers, it is our responsibility to create solutions that have longevity and avoid inherent obsolescence, both for our clients and the overall design landscape.

It’s not black and white

The topic of colour is a complex one, filled with rules, social meanings, and superstitions. One such rule states, "Blue and green should not be seen." But who made that rule? If you look out of your window, you'll realise that blue and green are possibly the most common natural combination.

It is often believed that blue and green are calming colours, while red and orange are stimulating. However, it's not as straightforward as that. The intensity of a colour plays a significant role in its perceived calming or invigorating effect. Any colour can be perceived as calm if its intensity is softened, and vice versa.

While it is possible to influence mood with colour, it's important to understand that different colours can have distinct meanings and associations in different countries. However, rules, as they say, are meant to be broken (and what a foolish saying that is, by the way), especially when it comes to colour combinations.

Out in the open

Are open plan offices truly efficient workspaces? Well, when it comes to space utilisation, undoubtedly. However, as environments for efficient work, they may not be suitable for everyone.

While open plan offices facilitate communication and collaboration by eliminating physical barriers, they are often rife with distractions that hinder concentration and focus. Visual and auditory distractions abound in such settings. Therefore, the most effective workspaces are those that offer a combination of various work environments to accommodate different needs.

Creating different work zones to cater to individuals is important, but one traditional practice is fading away. The unwritten rule that mandates managers to have assigned offices with the best views and elevated positions has been rightly challenged.

Two points emerge: Firstly, it's not always necessary for a senior individual in a business to have a separate office. Secondly, historical data suggests that managers spend only half their time in their offices, despite having spaces twice as large as their subordinates. So, why invest in costly enclosed offices that obstruct natural light and ventilation, occupying prime views?

Over time, many design rules have emerged to justify personal preferences, benefiting design teams who shy away from pushing boundaries and reinventing. Long-accepted notions, such as vertical lines making shapes appear slimmer, have been scientifically proven inaccurate.

A myth is defined as a widely held but false belief or idea. It is the responsibility of the design team to educate and consider their clients' specific requirements, rather than perpetuating myths. The office design team holds the key to reimagining workspaces.