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5 Questions with Karin Ross – Designing for a New Office

IMG_0149Although Kamus + Keller specializes in the planning, selection and design of new offices, we’re not immune to the ups and downs of the relocation process. With only ten days to go until the move of our Long Beach office, we’re busy cleaning, discarding, shopping, finalizing furniture and finishes, and giddily daydreaming of our sleek new space with incredible views. Leading up to that time, we’ll be sharing some thoughts and pictures on our process and progress. Read our previous articles with David Keller and Cheri Bancroft.

With over 20 years of experience in Interior Design, Karin Ross brings fresh and spirited energy to her work. Well known for her attention to detail, Karin’s passion lies in the development of a space’s look and feel. Here are her thoughts on the design process:

1. The importance of design development is often taken for granted in the overall design/construction process, especially in terms of budget allotment. Explain why it’s just as vital a component as the other phases of a project.

The budget component is very important, but [more so is] being able to design to that [budget] level [by understanding] what the client’s needs are and what they’re trying to achieve design-wise, functionality, aesthetically. It’s extremely important to get the fit and finish and look that you developed your budget and concepts towards.

2. What’s the look and feel you’re hoping to achieve with our new office?

Our new office is going to be clean, simple, professional, but also forward-thinking. Take for instance our small conference room, that Cheri [Bancroft, Interior Design Director] calls our ideation room: we’d like to be able to show a client that you don’t have to do a traditional conference room, you can do a conference room with more of a lounge feel. Our lunchroom is playful and fun, [a place where] you can let your hair down and have a bite, or even a casual meeting with a client. We’re also using some existing elements [that came with the office] so we can spend our money where we want to spend our money and not redo everything. Different building elements, different design elements, different types of ceiling, different types of flooring, different types of furniture: that’s really what I’ve been striving for.

The finishes for the new KKIA DTLB office

The finishes for the new KKIA DTLB office

3. What were the biggest challenges in selecting our finishes and furniture?

Price. We like to design to a certain level, and sometimes our taste levels are above what our budget levels are. I have gone in and [negotiated with vendors] for special discounts, which has taken so much time – it’s like it’s my house it’s taken so much time! And then taking [those costs] back to David [Keller, President|CEO] and Kim [Ryan, Financial Control Officer] and asking “Can I spend this?” But there’s also that trust level – they [David and Kim] say “Do what you want”, but you know it better turn out good because you’re going to see these people every day!

4. What are the key elements to a successful commercial interior design?

Realizing the client’s vision is most important of all. Coming in on time and on budget. Making sure that the finishes are going to be durable and that they fit: what you put into an executive space isn’t going to [have the same elements that] are put into a public corridor. That the furniture is going to last and do what the client needs it to do.

5. What’s your best advice to companies in regards to new office design?

There are a lot of things happening now that are different – I would say in the past two or three years we’ve seen a lot of changes, especially on the office furniture side. I would say they really need to pay attention to their employees’ needs and functions, [and whether or not] they need privacy. Really look at how your company works, because your office needs to be designed and function toward how your company does business, and towards people’s needs as opposed to what’s cool and hip right now. The private offices are definitely going away, although I don’t think they should go away altogether. If you want an office that’s almost entirely open, you’re really going to want the space to have some private areas. Your conference rooms are a lot more technologically savvy than they ever have been, which can use up dollars very quickly. Look at places that are different from your company. Look at what other people are doing. Be open minded, and be open to change.

A digital rendering of the conference room

A digital rendering of the conference room