The dynamics of a building

Today, the lines between different segments have blurred, and buildings are adopting a variety of identities, which may reflect the characteristics of various segment designs. Here, Marijke Griffioen, Senior Designer at Forbo Flooring Systems, discusses these trends and how the use of a new colour framework can help specifiers to create identities with ease

As interior design continues to evolve, it is clear that over time, we have seen a strong shift in segment design. Before, there was clear uniformity where a hospital would look like a hospital and an office would be designed to be exactly what you would expect from an office, simply a place to work. Now, a public building can have a variety of atmospheres that are associated with different segments.

For example, a hospital building will encompass more than just patient rooms (healthcare), they will also contain luxury reception areas (hospitality), spaces to work (office), shopping areas (retail) and even sports facilities (leisure). Whereas the office of today not only provides a variety of different and easy to adapt workspaces but it also integrates areas to relax and to socialise; blurring the edges between work and leisure.

Indeed, the flooring plays a vital role in the total experience within a building. It can help to distinguish different spaces or connect multiple spaces together. And with an increase in demand for transitional environments, spaces also need to be able to evolve and adapt to new functions. These constantly changing spaces require walls and floors that can perform as a chameleon, with timeless colours and basic materials.

These changing mindsets in society have inspired the Forbo Design team to develop a new colour framework. Rather than defining segment-related colour ranges (i.e. colour palettes designed specifically for an office, a hospital, a retail store etc.), the design team analysed the different ‘dynamics’ taking place within a public building. The concept of a colour framework represents the dialogue between the selected colours and the way that they are grouped together to set the tone of a space, rather than the individual colour itself.

Five themes were identified; Receiving, Moving, Connecting, Concentrating and Recharging.

The theme ‘Receiving’ describes the scenario of a person entering a building. Here, first impressions are key and should offer comfort and a space where one should feel welcome. This is the area of the building that generally represents the ‘feel’ of the brand. A range of neutral and natural colours could provide the base to create a warm and welcoming ambience and at the same time offer a backdrop for strong and outspoken brand identity colours.

‘Moving’ represents the transition towards the destination and the purpose of why someone is in a building – getting from A to B, the reception desk to the person you want to meet, or the transition between departments. Orientation is priority, so these areas need to be clear to read and offer guidance even when one is stressed. Easy to read colours should be used as well as the use of simple signs and symbols which will aid with way-finding.

The dynamics of a ‘Connecting’ space signifies areas where you will connect with other people within a building, such as open public spaces for spontaneous interactions or semi open spaces for conversations or brainstorms. These areas allow for an extrovert energy boost or to give the brain time out. Here, colours and materials can be more complicated, such as layered colour schemes with unexpected combinations, sparking interest and curiosity and to inspire thoughts.

For ‘Concentrating’, the attention is on the individual, with minimal stimulation of the senses to avoid unwelcome distractions. These are secluded spaces for privacy and focus and here, people need a muted ambience and good acoustics. In healthcare for instance, this can be a consultation room, or the study spaces within a library. Therefore, colour palettes in this area of a building are subtle and quiet with minimal textures.

Finally, ‘Recharging’ is connected to mindfulness and describes relaxed environments where people can let their guard down and be themselves. This area of the building should reflect a home-like setting, to allow people to refresh and recharge, and to enable a feeling of temporary ownership. Light and fresh shades should be used here, such as pastel colours, as they are weightless and crisp, encouraging people to take a break, breathe and escape.

This colour framework based on the concept of ‘the dynamics of a building’ acts a starting point for the Forbo Design team when creating new collections. Furthermore, it aspires to offer guidance and inspiration to the end-user. By working together with a reputable flooring manufacturer, who has a created a complete product portfolio that connects seamlessly well with the mindset of today, specifiers can ensure they are receiving the best advice to fulfil any design brief, no matter what the project segment.