5 Top Tips For Future Proofing Your Business Interiors
You’ve decided to give your business a facelift, or maybe you are launching a whole new and exciting business project. You want to be sure you get your interiors right and that they represent everything you stand for. You want your customers to have the best possible experience in your place of business and you have hired a designer to help you bring your vision to life. But you want to get this right and know that your interior design will last through changing times and trends. You don’t want to have to redo your entire interior again in 2 or even 5 years time. So how do you know that what you design today will still be relevant in years to come, will still appeal to your customers in 5 or even 10 years? How do you ‘future-proof’ your business interiors?
Here are my top 5 tips for future-proofing your business interiors:
- Avoid Trends
Trends come and go but good, timeless style can last a lifetime. In a world of fast changes, industrialism and construction on a scale like we have never seen before, things change quickly, and it can be so easy to fall into the trap of keeping up with the latest trend in interior design (or any kind of design for that matter)
One of the biggest factors that compounds the issue of changing trends is the instant and global communication that exists in today’s world. It has become so easy to open a new tab or pull up an app and checkout the latest trends in interiors with just the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen. While this is such a great resource for inspiration and even for sourcing, the danger is that we can fall in love with the latest look or with a style that might not suit our context and we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture – timeless style.
So how do you avoid accidentally falling for the latest trend?
The answer is to hire a designer who has experience in creating timeless and lasting designs and who understands that great commercial design is driven by the needs and wants and desires of your customers, not by your personal styling preferences and not by trends!
- Choose Lasting and/or Timeless Materials
The choice of materials and finishes available to us from all over the world has exploded in recent years and will only continue to grow in scale and experimentalism. This is great news in the world of design and offers us huge variety and allows us to develop and create in ways that just were not possible until recently.
It allows us to create ‘wow’ factor and focal points in interiors that generate a buzz and word of mouth amongst customers that can, ultimately, grow a business beyond expectation. It allows us to create ambience and atmosphere and to reflect a business’ brand in new and exciting ways that we just couldn’t do before. All in all, it is an exciting age in interior design.
All of this choice, comes with a word of caution, however. Choosing materials that are going to suit your business appearance, represent your brand, delight and excite your customers and, yet, stand the test of time, can be a difficult balance to get right.
You want materials that will still excite and delight in five years time. You want materials that will be hard wearing and durable and suitable for the type of commercial traffic they will be exposed to. You want to ensure that the most expensive (and difficult to replace) materials will stand up to the test of time and won’t need frequent replacement. And you want to ensure that materials you use in areas of high traffic (like seating etc) can be easily and cheaply replaced, giving your premises a cost effective ‘new lease of life’ every few years.
This kind of balance is really only something you can achieve by hiring a designer who understands the balance between cost, quality, beauty and agelessness.
- Represent Your Brand
Another factor to consider when ‘future-proofing’ your business, is what your brand represents. The interior design of your business premises should always, immediately tell your customers who you are and what you represent.
For example, if your business is a creatively driven business that puts product innovation at the forefront of your operation, then you might want to represent your brand through your store or office design by using clean lines, open and creative spaces, sustainable materials, lots of natural light etc.
However, if your business is a bustling, culture rich, experiential, sensory business such as a Cuban cafe in the cultural quarter of the city, for example, then you might choose to represent your brand with bright colour, unique fixtures and fittings, an array of different textured materials and ambient lighting, all of which combined, creates a unique sensory experience for your customers.
Representing your brand values in the right way, like this, can help you stand the test of time. You are giving your business it’s own personality that will essentially remain the same throughout the years (with just a little updating and evolving from time to time)
- Focus On Your Customers
Focussing on your customers is another great way to create a future-proofed design that will stand the test of time.
Know who your customers are and what they want from your business and appeal to them on their level.
For example, if you run a department store whose main target audience is the affluent, upwardly mobile individual or couple, with plenty of disposable income and a keen interest in style, then you will want to create an interior that appeals to their desire for luxury and quality. You may choose to use ornate chandeliers and a glamorous, sweeping staircase. You might choose deep pile carpeting in your dressing rooms and flattering lighting and quality, opulent tiling in your bathrooms. You might choose to highlight period features etc
The point is that if you know what drives your target market – what they want, need and desire, and if your target market essentially remains the same through the years, then your design should appeal to that target market and it should essentially remain the same through the years too (obviously updating as you go, to keep it fresh)
- Spend Money On Quality
My final recommendation, when future-proofing, is to spend money on quality materials in the right areas within your place of business.
You want to ensure that the busiest and most commonly used surfaces in your premises have the most durable and hardwearing materials and that the lesser used surfaces are designed so that they can be easily updated to give your business a cost effective freshen up, when needed.
Take a busy, metropolitan, city pub or cafe as an example:
The surfaces that would likely endure most traffic will include the flooring in the entry way/ reception area, the main thoroughfare and around the bar area. The seat covering will also be exposed to high levels of use, as will the bar top and table tops. For this reason, I would suggest investing in high quality, enduring, durable materials in these areas that are easy to clean and maintain. The aim here is to invest at the beginning so that you don’t have to reinvest in replacing these surface materials too soon.
The surfaces and finishes that will get less use are obvious ones like walls, curtains and window dressings, features and accessories. You should, of course, always try to invest in quality where you can, but these surfaces and finishes are areas where you may choose to be a little more frugal. They can be and should be replaced and freshened more frequently, allowing you to create a fresh look in your business, without reinventing the wheel or splashing out unnecessarily.
If you can get these balances right from the beginning, then you can go a long way towards future proofing your business and saving yourself a whole lot of money and heartache in the years ahead.