As the winners of the 2013 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 48 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.
Kenna Manley, Interior Designer, talked with us about creating quite spaces in a not-so-quiet office, aquatic inspiration and being driven by creativity.
When did you decide to pursue a profession in design?
I was in my third year at the University of Alberta, studying Elementary Education with a Visual Studies minor when I realized it was my creative side that really drove me. I decided to change my direction and focus on my love for art, design and the built environment. I moved to Vancouver and spent the next four years completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Interior Design at Kwantlen University College.
Did you ever stray from this path or think about changing course?
It took me some time to find the path of design and as soon as I found it, I can honestly say I have never thought of doing anything else. Interior design is what I feel I am meant to do. It’s a big part of who I am.
What about this project represents why you choose to be a designer?
This space was designed with unique elements which created and enhanced connections; between staff, their surroundings, to the brand and most importantly, to their workplace. The new office provides an open work environment to foster creativity and promote collaboration amongst their team. Its results such as these that illustrate how being an interior designer enables you to have positive effects on others and their daily lives.
What is your first memory of the project?
This is the second office we have designed for Plentyoffish Media. I recall getting an email from our client with the news that they wanted to expand by opening another office and hire SSDG Interiors again. We developed a strong concept for the previous project, and this new office space gave us the opportunity to raise the bar even higher.
What was the happiest moment of the project?
For me, it is the reaction of those who use the space that gives me joy. When people experience it, without being prompted, in the way it was intended I know that it’s a successful project.
Tell me something that was unusual about the project.
The client wanted to have an open concept with bench-style workstations to encourage collaboration and the interconnectivity of the space, however there were noise and acoustic concerns that they wanted addressed at the same time. In order provide an open planning that would allow for natural light to filter through the space required unique design features to prevent potential acoustic issues. Congregational spaces like the boardroom and café are divided with tall planters and laminated glass to decrease sound transmission. Additionally, departments are divided by centralized quiet rooms and highly populated areas like reception and the café are designed with sound-absorbent wood slats on the ceiling to decrease noise from travelling. The end result gives an overall open feel, while the noise of this youthful team is managed as the client had hoped.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of the end result and the design solution as a whole. All the elements of the space work together seamlessly to give the team what they were after, supporting variety of functions required day to day, plus a little bit more that was unexpected.
You created an aquatic motif without being obvious. Tell me more about your design process on that.
Along with the carpet design, subtle elements were included to reinforce the brand and convey the concept of water movement and fish. Penny round mosaic tiles and blown glass light fixtures provide visual texture and resemble bubbles. While a backlit kitchen backsplash is reminiscent of waves. Colour was also essential to the concept and vibrancy of the space. The use of colour blocking makes feature areas stand out against the primary neutral background.
What has been the reaction to the new space?
The office has been very well received by PlentyofFish’s team as well as visitors that have walked through. Because the office is busy all hours of the day, the space supports staff’s needs from the typical work day to the late night work sessions.
The space has many different work areas. How was the client’s involvement in creating those spaces?
Based on the type of work this group does, they needed several different styles of rooms to support a variety of functions. The client gave us an idea of what was required and we planned the space in a way that allowed multi-functional space that can be used by staff over the course of a typical day.