Today we bring you the fourth extract from the Independent thoughts section of Album One from Heidi Stowers, Partner at Gray Puksand. With over 20 years experience in architecture and interior design, Heidi leads the national interior design team at the company and her unique skill set and knowledge ensures a thorough understanding of interior design from a holistic standpoint. As a nine-year member of the Gray Puksand team, Heidi’s projects have included government and corporate organisations, with her work represented in all Capital cities. Specialising in workspace design, Heidi has completed successful and innovative projects with Amcor, Baulderstone, FleetPartners, Middletons, Australian Bureau of Statistics and City West Water. Heidi is a member of the Design Institute of Australia, and a committee member at the Property Council of Victoria. Through actively researching new methods and advancements in workspace design, culture and management styles, Heidi demonstrates a genuine curiosity, and a passion for creativity. We spoke to Heidi about how she started in design and what she couldn't do without:
What led you to pursue a career in design? I took an interesting path via architectural drafting, construction and business management. Passion and hard work drove me to find a place where I could develop my design vision. My broad background has enhanced my ability to design inspiring spaces in which people thrive and work, and I love what I do.
How do you approach a design brief or new project? Connection with the client is the most important part of my design process. Through in-depth workshops I ensuring an thorough understanding of my client’s culture; armed with that knowledge I am able to respond with a design to support and enhance their aspiration.
What element of design could you not live without? Colour theory; I love the challenge of gathering colours together to create an emotional response, or to enhance an experience. I enjoy finding balance; a harmony, and that special touch to make a colour scheme sing.
What is your favourite Herman Miller design? Noguchi table. I love the fluid design; the way the glass hovers above the timber structure. A perfect balance between sculpture and function.
An extract from Heidi's article is below:
Bandwagon On The Run: The truth behind successful ABW (abridged)
Activity Based Working (ABW) is a misused label plastered onto any shiny new workspace design. As companies jump on the bandwagon to embrace this new trend, the fundamentals that hold it up are being lost. Companies risk investing in a new fit-out that fails them from day one. The principles of ABW address the way a company goes about its business. If creativity, collaboration and communication are your company’s goals, then ABW may be the solution for you.
Plan for Performance
People are more productive, work more innovatively, and have a greater sense of wellbeing in an environment that encourages trust, allows flexibility and supports self-management. This environment includes:
· Choice around when people work, and from which location (home, office or park);
· How people want to approach the task at hand to ensure the best outcome;
· Opportunities to easily pull the best teams together;
· To encourage more innovative responses to challenges; and
· To embrace a truly agile workforce.
An ABW workspace, when and only when supported by a genuine culture change, can achieve improved performance of a workforce.
Design for Performance
Space planning is the most important element of the design response. How the workspace is laid out; how the internal spaces, and therefore the people, interact with each other; how people move and flow through the environment; how connections are made; how to make a space feel comfortable and individual, whilst still being transparent – solving these challenges provides for the true success of the ABW physical space. An ABW workspace will include various home bases, with some allocated seating, often for administration and support staff. This creates a hub and a focus for each team; a location where one can find a place to belong. The workspace plan will include areas such as library spaces and focus rooms for quiet individual work, large open and formal meeting spaces for team collaboration, and cafes and communal squares for incidental collaboration and knowledge sharing. The finishes, furniture selections, and look and feel, whilst important design elements, are a more individual choice. It is easy to jump on the bandwagon, and commission a new trendy workspace immediately. However, ABW is not merely a flashy interior design, or the current trend for workspace design. ABW is a holistic working environment, with quality and performance at its core.