Shining A Light On Your Brand: A New Approach to Workplace Design

There’s a new approach to workplace design as corporate offices undergo a transformation with the way organizations imbue their brand identity.

Every generation has influenced commercial office design: baby boomers contributed with private offices that line perimeter walls and cubicles, millennials introduced the open office, and Generation Z (Gen Z) is expanding on this concept with unassigned seating and open collaboration areas equipped with comfortable lounge seating. As corporate offices undergo a transformation, so does the way organizations imbue their brand identity through their facilities.

With unemployment rates at record low levels in the U.S., employers continue to seek novel ways to attract this new generation of talent while remaining relevant and retaining existing talent. Organizations are recognizing the value of focusing on the built environment, creating engaging office environments with innovations and amenities to support human health and well-being. Building on the recent trend and future-proofing commercial office spaces, companies are elevating their office design by incorporating brand, culture, and values through décor and building elements. Elevating and differentiating goes beyond changing paint colors and selecting furniture fabric.

We explore how lighting can be used to reflect a brand’s identity while meeting illumination requirements and minimizing noise levels in open environments to support human health and well-being.

Photo credit: Kyle Zirkus Photography

Making a bold impact with color

Historically, brands have been reflected in office design with the use of logos, often prominently displayed in the reception area, and by selecting furniture, fabrics, flooring, and other materials that contain similar shades to those of the brand. In recent years, designers have been pushing the boundaries to deliver more personalized spaces, eliminating the neutral color palette to incorporate accent walls painted with custom colors that match a corporation’s brand colors.

The design team behind this full-service consulting firm’s Mesa, Arizona office remodel took this approach one step further and leveraged a leading lighting manufacturer’s ability to paint luminaires in custom RAL colors. The tenant improvement project included an expanded office with an open floor plan comprised of private offices, conference rooms, open workstation areas, and a large break room.

In focused work areas, a neutral color palette was used, and pops of color incorporated with workstation dividers and LED pendant lights. The same cylinder-shaped pendants, with a sharp knife edge and glowing reveal, in the company’s signature blue, were also included in the break room where they illuminate a colorful mural and brightly colored chairs, contributing to the modern yet playful aesthetic of the space. The impressive design was recognized with a 2019 ASID Design Excellence Award.

workplace design lighting
Photo credit: Tom Gatlin

Drawing inspiration from its name

Going beyond colorful luminaires, designers should consider leveraging the resources at leading lighting manufacturers to help create spaces that embody a brand. A California-based lighting designer, well educated in designing to meet energy codes and standards, was commissioned to deliver an energy-efficient lighting plan for SESAC, the smallest of the three major performing rights organizations in the United States. The Nashville, Tennessee-based organization is anything but small when it comes to their catalog of artists – it includes Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Green Day, and Adele, to name a few.

The new headquarters needed to showcase its catalog of famous artists, reinforce creativity, encourage collaboration, and reflect the company culture and brand. The two-story space was designed as a multi-purpose facility. Drawing inspiration from the organization and with a desire to play off SESAC’s brand identity, the lighting designer worked closely with a leading lighting manufacturer to design a custom luminaire. The triangular-shaped suspended light is evocative of the distinct A in SESAC’s logo, with a custom RAL finish to match the company’s signature red color.

The luminaires were strategically placed in the two-story atrium and in gathering spaces to provide a common feature, visually joining formal and informal areas. Like a musical composition, the design emphasizes counterpoint and harmony, earning a 2017 IES Illumination Award of Merit and delivering a flexible space to keep the music alive.

color design
Photo credit: Cleary O’Farrell

A sound choice with bright results

The prevalence of open office designs, which include address-free workstations and open collaboration areas, results from a desire to facilitate human interactions. However, the absence of walls and private offices combined with the use of hard surfaces such as concrete floors, glass walls, and low-profile desks, give way to new challenges related to acoustic comfort. This new concern for human comfort has led to specifiers and manufacturers finding new ways to address noise and reverberation issues while maintaining the desired design requirements and aesthetic.

On a mission to revolutionize the online retail landscape and transform the customer experience, Coupang, one of the most successful start-ups in South Korea and the largest online retailer in the country, required a U.S. office that would promote collaboration. Its multi-floor office located in the heart of downtown Seattle is set in a premier location, but it also posed a design challenge: it is surrounded by towering skyscrapers that limit the quantity of natural light that permeates the space, resulting in a “cave-like” feel.

Aside from a brighter space that would promote collaboration, Coupang wanted the office to reflect the vibe of the Pacific Northwest and to have a refined, yet playful aesthetic, reflective of the brand. To deliver a cheerful, modern, and functional office that would reflect Coupang’s brand personality, the design team selected an open office concept that would allow impromptu interactions and facilitate greater collaboration. To resolve the issue of a lack of natural light, they incorporated circular luminaires that would deliver the optimal illumination levels while making an architectural statement.

In their quest to find a luminaire that would meet the required light levels and aesthetic, the team selected an LED luminaire offered in a circular shape, with a customizable finish, various lumen output options, and a matching unlit, sound-absorbing companion.

The four-foot-diameter luminaires, in white and custom green and orange finishes, were suspended in the multi-use area along with the sound dampening companions containing blue, orange, and green eco-friendly PET felt, delivering illumination and acoustic comfort with a coordinated look. The luminaire and cloud system did not just serve a functional purpose, but also provided another opportunity for the design team to incorporate Coupang’s corporate colors and fulfill the client’s request for a bright and playful environment.

Developing unique human-centric environments continues to be a trend in commercial office design. As a new generation enters the workforce, and manufacturers continue to introduce new products that help support the trend toward a healthier built environment, now is the time to look beyond the traditional methods to exhibit a brand’s identity.


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