Tamara Hurd bridge commercial real estate Explore how office design can leverage narrative design and storytelling to create emotional connections between people and places.
Office buildings have traditionally been filled with rows of drab gray cubicles, harsh overhead lighting, and uncomfortable desks and chairs. No wonder this model has consistently kept office occupancy below 50% across U.S. subways. Given the preference of employees to work from home and the competitive labor market, it is clear that employers and office owners need to create an attractive environment with features that outweigh the convenience of working from home. .
A modern and innovative approach to office design leverages storytelling to create an emotional connection between people and places. When done well, the office, where employees spend most of their waking hours, becomes a happy place to return to every morning. Today, narrative design is fast becoming a key differentiator in the office market.
Telling stories through design
As architects and designers, we are storytellers at heart. Skilled at creating authentic connections to space and its surroundings. Story design follows structure, much like writing a compelling story. Storytelling consists of five key elements: plot, point of view, setting, characters, and conflict. Consider how these key elements relate to your design process.
- plot = overall design plan
- perspective and setting = history and background of your place
- character = users of the space (e.g. employees)
- confrontation = specific space requirements
The thoughtful combination of these elements evokes the desired emotional response from employees and prospective tenants.
creating a vision
The narrative design process begins with market research and identifying aspects of the property that allow people to connect emotionally and respect the cultural relevance of the local community. To make informed decisions, work with tenants and rental agents to discover what’s most important to them and learn about the culture and history of cities that resonate emotionally with you.
For example, the 1200 Crown Colony in Quincy, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, draws inspiration from the city’s rich history as a center for granite mining and global shipbuilding from the 1800s to World War II. The city is also famous for being home to many colonial-era political leaders, including John Adams, Abigail Adams, and John Hancock, all of whom played a major role in the founding of the United States. Rich colors, large fireplaces, and extensive use of brick and wood in the design add a warm and homely feel to his late-80s building, which is very different from its original beginnings. These colonial themes are woven throughout the building’s design, influencing the choice of materials such as iron, stone and reclaimed wood, and the history and value of the office park’s location, a source of great pride for Quincy residents. reflect the view.
After conducting research, designers should create a viable vision. What are the key points and how can they be reflected in the future flow of spaces, graphics, materials and buildings? It feels organized, consistent, holistic, and well thought out. Narrative design incorporates a more unique design perspective, so you can avoid sterile boardrooms, marble lobbies, and gray desks. You’ll also find that storytelling based on the above principles can create a timeless workspace.
Storytelling design also allows you to create a more immersive brand experience within your venue. For example, the Crown Colony coffee shop, Kilroy Coffee, is named after a local shipyard inspector during World War II, James He Kilroy. Kilroy had tagged the rivets he inspected with “Kilroy was here”. This is a fun historical element that will resonate well with future Tennant tours.
A brand element can also be associated with a building that may have once stood on the site. One recent example is the Tennant Amenity Lounge in Atlanta’s Lenox Park office complex. Known as the ‘Standard Lounge’, it is a tribute to the country club of the same name, the Standard Club. The club has been a local mecca for previous generations of golfers, tennis players and socialites.
Environmental references are also commonly utilized and can affect residents who value the biodiversity and natural beauty of their homes. An example of this is Sawgrass Technology Park near the Florida Everglades. Here the Tenant Amenity Lounge is called ‘The Glades’.
create emotional resonance
Using narrative design, workspaces are developed that leverage positive, emotional connections that help employees feel invited and be more productive. Remember your childhood home? You may recall certain sounds, smells, warmth, colors, or unique things that you call home and still remember fondly. Next, think about the atmosphere of your favorite coffee shop that might make you want to work there when you’re not in the office. These places have an emotional connection to most people. They resonate with the emotions and connections with the surrounding culture and background, creating a more attractive environment.
We often spend more time with our colleagues than with anyone else, so storytelling in design is essentially about creating environments for characters to live their entire lives, giving employees this emotional connection. produces As telecommuting and hybrid scheduling continue to be popular, especially among employees, it’s more important than ever to create comfortable spaces that mimic where people like to spend time, such as living rooms and coffee shops. I’m here.
Adopting a narrative design makes the space more relevant and engaging. This often leads employees to be more active in the office than usual. Host baby showers for co-workers in the building’s amenity lounge rather than the office break room, and move company holiday parties from outdoor venues to shared amenity spaces. The building must be memorable for prospective tenants. When looking for new office buildings, brokers often take companies to her 10 or more properties. So design with a story can help your building stand out beyond the standard checklist of features and amenities.
Using a narrative design repositions the product with a unique selling proposition. It serves as a key differentiator between those destined for success and those who are not. This type of design seamlessly connects her four walls of the building with the history, culture and background of the place, allowing people to form an emotional connection that evokes warmth, positivity and comfort. By creating story-driven spaces that transform the user experience from ‘must be there’ to ‘want to be there’, office owners and designers stay relevant and competitive well into the future.