Holidays at the Office

Hey, Melanie Solimine here! I am a marketing intern at Avery Design Interiors this fall and a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. I am stepping in today, because Catherine is working on her launch for her new website.

Here are some inspirational photos for your holiday interior decoration at your office!

Catherine is passionate about bringing her client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

Thinking about redesigning your office in the new year? To set up your complimentary consultation call, please contact us at

Love to hear from you in the comments – how are you decorating your office for the holidays?


How to Choose the Right Office Space: Location, Location, Location

This is the first in a three part series on choosing the right office space for your business.

Whether you are considering expanding out of your home office or just relocating, there are many factors that go into the selection of your new office location even before you start the interior design.

The first rule in real estate is location, location, location. But before anything else, assess your budget. What can you afford to spend on a per square foot basis? How much square footage will that get you in your first, second or third choice neighborhood?

One of my clients was recently faced with an important office decision stay or relocate? Her rent was about to increase 30% one year into her lease. Her number one priority was her office location. She is an investment manager in a small town with a prestigious address. Her clients would expect nothing less. Her office offered her close proximity to home so that she could be home when her children get off the school bus. She could walk to the post office, the train to New York City where she commutes at least once a week to see clients and to downtown for lunch or a cup of coffee.

Getting your office space location right can make or break your business. If you are a retail store, you want to be located with other stores, near lots of foot traffic, restaurants etc. If you are a technology firm, it may be less important to be located down town depending upon the types of employees and clients you want to attract and retain. And then of course there is the precarious balance between budget and your idea of the perfect place.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you start your search.

1. What kind of neighborhood is it? Will your employees feel safe leaving there at any hour? If the cost per square foot is low check to see if the neighborhood has a repuation for safety. Likewise how will your clients feel coming to that neighborhood? Is it easy to get to? What image does the town or city project? Is it hot and trendy? Traditional or family oriented? Urban or suburban?

Source: via Avery on Pinterest

Clients will make immediate judgements about your business simply from the address. My client needed her New Canaan, CT business address for that prestige. In Fairfield County, if you are a high end residential interior designer it doesn’t matter if you work from home but you must have a trendy town in your address – think Greenwich or Westport. If you are a corporate interior designer, having the Post Road or Stamford or Norwalk in your address is much better. And you are not nearly as likely to be working from home. Small boutiques fare best in small trendy towns while we expect to see our large corporate offices in our local cities.

2. Is your office readily accessible? What is the transportation like? Can your employees take a bus or a train to work? Is there ample parking for your employees and clients? Keep in mind that if you are interested in green initiatives that these questions take on even greater meaning. Can you provide a bus or van from the train station if you are located too far away? Assess your existing employees daily commute as it is now and compare it to your future location. Consider alternative travel routes for visitors and clients.

3. Which amenities are nearby? Are there local restaurants where your employees can have lunch or you can take a client for a meal? Is there a printer nearby for a last minute brochure? Can your assistant run out for office supplies if needed? Is there a local bank, pharmacy or grocery store, where your employees can run their errands at lunch or cash their paycheck? What about access to day care? Convenience buys lots of employee goodwill.

Next time join us for choosing the right building for your new office in part two of this series.

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

To set up your complimentary consultation call for your new office, please contact us at

Love to hear from you in the comments – what would be your number one factor in choosing your ideal office location?

(all photos found on Pinterest and attributed and linked as above)

How to Design for the Graying Population in Your Office: The Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, the largest and most well known portion of the American landscape. Born from 1946 to 1964, boomers continue to influence the way we work. Not yet obsolete and, due to the economy, either staying in the workforce or returning in droves, boomers bring special needs and also vast knowledge and experience to your company.

So who are they?

74.6 million strong, boomers are still the economy. They were optimistic and felt that education was their birthright. With a buy now and pay later take on life, they were the wealthiest and most physically fit generation redefining the landscape and developing the suburbs. They expected that life would get better over time and for many years that was the case. They are products of the 60s and the early 70s, the Vietnam War, Watergate and the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do Baby Boomers Affect the Design of your Workplace?

Generally in the workplace, Baby Boomers are workaholics and team players who work to live. They value raises and promotions but not feedback. They are collegial, like to meet in person and, with their cell phones at hand, are available to talk with you any time. Boomers value efficient and functional workspaces and meeting rooms as well as acoustic privacy.

When I was working at what I now jokingly call a small little-known insurance company (AIG), my favorite story well illustrates the overview of Baby Boomers in the work place. Design reflected hierarchy in AIG (and most offices in Wall Street). Where you sat, who you sat next to and how your office looked was a major deal even into the nineties when I was there. It was a happy day when I moved from my cubicle next to the copy room (how many times a day do you think I was interrupted to make coffee or fix the copier even though I was the marketing manager!) and moved to a small but private office near human resources.

But on to the story… Hearkening back to the late eighties, the manager in question was recently promoted and given a brand new office.  He entered the newly designed space and promptly called in the designer demanding his ‘fuzzy, wuzzy wall’. Where was it and why was it not installed? Still cracks me up…

The Graying Workplace

You may be more familiar with universal design in the home – kitchens that accomodate wheelchairs, accessible appliances, roll in showers with grab bars etc. Workplaces must also take into account the needs of an aging population. Primary concerns are loss of hearing, loss of vision and loss of agility.

Solutions include:

  • Boomers need to be provided with quiet office spaces where they can concentrate as not only do they have aneed for acoustic privacy but also some have the beginnings of hearing loss.
  • Contrasting colors on flooring and in signage.
  • Accessible bathrooms, hallways (passages wide enough to accommodate side by side wheelchairs), cafes and kitchenettes.
  • For new construction, offices are required to provide accessible bathrooms. Please check with your local  government for public accommodation laws.

Capture their Knowledge and Experience

As boomers are beginning to retire, companies are realizing that they will lose a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience.*

As an employer, it is important to focus on capturing that knowledge via technology and encouraging a knowledge sharing collaborative culture. Design can help via shared offices, collaborative spaces and provision of appropriate updated technology.

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

*For more information on capturing the knowledge of the Baby Boomers, read ‘Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus’ by Ken Ball and Gina Gotsill.

How to Play at the Office: A Labor Day Tribute

As I rest and relax with my family on the beach, at the pool, with a game or two of mini golf squeezed in, my thoughts meandered to the meaning of Labor Day. Labor Day was declared a federal holiday in 1894 post Industrial Revolution to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers.

Usually, I post about the way we work, but today in honor of Labor Day, I want to focus on the importance of play. Whether it’s time taken on vacation, a hobby on the weekend or break in the office day, play is more important than many of us think.

If you have forgotten how to play head over to your local playground and watch the children invent all sorts of games. If you are really daring, swing. It’s an unbelievable feeling. As a ‘cure’ for my vertigo, my ENT recommended I swing on my daughter’s playground. It’s very effective and a lot of fun! And your kids will love it if you get out there and play with them.

How we define play may be vastly different. I love to take photographs, listen to music and play scrabble or solitaire and other card games. My perfect day would be spent curled up in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea and a good book. My husband prefers to play guitar or golf to relax.

“I get it; I love it; I want it; Where is it?”

In ‘The Element’, Sir Ken Robinson defines the element as the “meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion”. Being in the element people feel “more alive, more centered and more vibrant than at any other times”. Sort of sounds like play, doesn’t it? Robinson contends that we are all capable of finding this.

Most of you will know Dr. Paul Samuelson, first American to win the Nobel Prize  in Economics. He states that “As precocious youngster, I had always been good at logical manipulations and puzzle-solving IQ tests. So if economics was made for me, it can be said that I too was made for economics. Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.”

Some offices, usually tech, have figured out the importance of play and have offices that encourage it. These are often the offices most interested in attracting Generation Y (add link). These companies recognize that Generation Yers  have a different work style. They won’t be slotted into a traditional 9 to 5 job.

Bastard Store Corporate Office


You Tube

Traction Marketing Group

You Tube

Love to hear from you! Which office idea sparks your imagination?

Have a productive week,

Read more about Sir Ken Robinson, the author of The Element, or Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Paul Samuelson

(photo credits: all photos from my board Office Play on Pinterest, credits are listed on each photo)

Commercial Design and Architecture Inspiration – Shaw Contract Design 2012 Award Winners

Earlier this month, Shaw Contract Group announced the winners of the 2012 ‘design is…’ Contest. Shaw Contract Group “produces carpet, hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile, area rugs and synthetic turf for residential and commercial applications” and is the leader in post consumer recycling.

“Design is merged”

B/S/H/ HUISHOUDAPPARATEN in the Netherlands was designed by D/Dock in a cradle to cradle building. If you are unfamiliar with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the term cradle to cradle is a “biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems…based on a system of lifecycle development”1. The term was first coined by Walter H. Staedel in the 1970s. The clients’s goal was to house their five main product lines in one building: “one culture, one brand and one vision”. Sustainable elements include a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) roof and a living green wall in the main atrium which recycles grey water (water that comes from laundry, dishes or bathing).

Gensler designed the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica CA, a LEED Gold project. Working closely with the client (a family), the “vision was to use the natural landscape and vibrant urban life to blend the two while taking in the beauty of the sea and embracing the pedestrian activities of the area”. The U shape of one of the buildings beckons pedestrians in.

“Design is a Revival”

Shimoda Design Group created the new Steelcase WorkCafe in the global headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The first challenge of the project was to connect the space with the rest of the building.” They created a grand staircase to accomplish this. They provided a variety of seating choices with different levels of interaction, allowing Steelcase to “test ideas about nomadic workers.”

“Design is Nourishing”

The grand stair was built by a local boat builder.

The client’s design goal for the Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal in British Columbia was “to reflect the values and attributes of the region for cruise ship passengers”. Designed by Checkwith Poiron Architects, the building was finished in just twelve months in time for the first cruise ship to dock.

“Design is Striking”

Built on relaimed land, this First Nations (aboriginal peoples of Canada) screen tells the story of the site.

Colacion Studio designed a new corporate headquarters for Tamdeen Group in Kuwait. The goal was to create a “dynamic and forward-thinking interior to reinforce Tamdeen’s brand and mission statement, “Deliver the Promise,” and to celebrate the firm’s cultural heritage and diversity.” The office needed to reflect multi-cutural workforce as well as accomodate a variety of workstyles.

“Design is Agile”

With a large skylight and a vertical garden in the reception area, the building is flooded with natural light.

Love to hear from you – what inspires you? How can we help you have a more inspiring office?

Have a productive week!

All photos from Shaw Contract Group. Click the link to see more…


How to Wake Up Your Office – Update the Flooring

Have you looked at the floor in your office lately? Even if you haven’t, your clients have. Is it worn and threadbare and in need of a change? What is your office flooring saying about your company’s brand?

Think of your standard office and you think of that multi-color bland carpet that is there solely to hide the dirt. And hiding the dirt is not a bad thing if the dirt isn’t twenty years old. Different companies have different needs for office flooring. Below are just a few…

Retail stores need floors that are easy to clean and maintain that will stand up to a lot of foot traffic. Their floors must convey the image of their brand – your more upscale stores are likely to sport wood or marble flooring while your budget houses will most likely have easy to maintain and inexpensive linoleum or poured concrete. Keep in mind your employees who will be standing on their feet all day – how would your calves feel after eight hours on concrete?

This Spa at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas has a cork floor – durable, sustainable and fairly easy to clean – cork helps aborb sound and is easier on the legs, feet and back. Imagine giving massages all day and you can guess that the cork floor is a real blessing for their employees.

Rubber acoustic flooring for gyms is a great solution. Easy to clean, easy on the knees and being acoustic it helps to muffle the noise in the very busy gym.

Someone has a great sense of humor! And at a law firm to boot. I want these folks to represent me. “Stacks” of legal books make up the pattern on this carpeting.

One can’t discuss commercial grade carpeting without showing an example of Flor carpet tiles. You can make your own pattern and designs. They are easier to install and if one gets a bad stain, you can replace one without taking up the entire carpet.

Music and theatre flooring is an entire science (and art) unto itself. Suffice it to say as a music aficianado, I bet the acoustics in here are divine with that expanse of wood floor.

A dentist’s or medical office has hygiene as the primary need. A floor that is easy to keep clean is a must. But why should it look boring when there are so many great vinyl options out there. In the dental office project that I recently worked on, we used wood look vinyl flooring. This flooring was so high end that if you touched it, it had grain. It looks phenomenal too and effectively communicates the message to the clientele – we know you want to visit the best dentist and you want an environment that feels homey (and not too clinical) but professional.

Love to hear from you – which flooring do you like the best for your office?

Have a productive week!

(photo credits:,,,,,,

What Does Your Waiting Room (or Lobby) Say About Your Business?

Your clients’ first impression of your business and what you stand for happens as they walk in the door. What image is your lobby or waiting room conveying?

This dentist values providing his patients with the latest in dental care. He and his staff are in a constant process of continuing education ensuring that they are up to date on the latest methodologies in dental care.

As you can see in the before photo (right), his waiting room looked just like any waiting room in any doctor’s office. It was outdated and uncomfortable and in no way reflected the state of the art dental practices and equipment located just beyond the waiting room door.

The manager of the practice had very distinct ideas for how she wanted the space to function and look. She asked me to improve the layout and help her convey the image of their company.

My first concern was the small size of the waiting room – it was not going to be large enough to accommodate the required eight seats for waiting patients. I reworked the layout of the office space to add the needed square footage. This allowed us to add an additional sofa by the reception desk. The walls will have photographs in sleek frames to complement the furniture.

We chose a more modern look and added conveniences not often available in a dental office – an internet bar where you can check your email while you wait as well as a coffee/water bar tucked in a small unused space (as shown in the photos below).


I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

To set up your complimentary consultation for your waiting room or office, please contact us at or 203-273-0898.

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