Inspiration for better outcomes in public spaces – How using creative wall designs goes deeper than making a pretty picture.
One of our clients works exclusively in healthcare, and in aiding them to make hospitals better places, we see that white or magnolia rules the corridors of most of Britain’s healthcare system. While this may not offend anyone and looks clean, in many cases there is a distinct lack of thought given to the way patients, visitors and staff respond to those spaces. The NHS is a system to care for and make people better in the most efficient way possible. The building is seen purely as something to house this system. However, studies done by charities like Teenage Cancer Trust show that the right environment can have a significant effect on young patients mental outlook. Studies have also shown that an improved outlook has an impact on healing and improved patient outcome. These studies suggest that the design of the building is a significant part of the system. Not only can it have a positive effect on patients, but it is also better for healthcare staff morale. With much talk about the future of the NHS in recent times it is easy to see there would be a long term reduction in NHS costs if patients went home from hospital sooner.
Turning Work Spaces into Inspiration
Imagine, you have just built a brand new building, it is large and bright – perfect for your growing team. Except there is something missing. You can’t quite put your finger on it. The space is open and airy, it has offices, shared spaces, open-plan sections and a fantastic atrium. Yet your team and other visitors, do not seem to be clicking with the new place. The specification was perfect and the process was intense. The architect has delivered everything you wanted.
Yet the one thing that is missing? Soul.
Workers tend to have increased performance and motivation in spaces they enjoy being in. There are, of course, many aspects to creating a productive space, but walls are often one of the largest areas of untapped opportunity. Motivational slogans are a relic from a previous management era, but beautiful photography and subtle designs can give a sense of pleasure and belonging. The outcome is that people can work with a clearer mindset for longer periods of the day. Not only that, staff ‘buy-in’ to businesses that make the environment more pleasant for them.
So many times I have been almost embarrassed by the reception to our work. The reason is that teams of people have spent thousands of collective hours slogging their hearts out to build these buildings. Then we come in for a couple of days and change the atmosphere completely, from a sterile white box into a place people love to be in, with colour and personality. Hence the embarrassed – we roll in at the last moment, when the team are about to move in and we get all the praise! The chippy, the sparky and the plasterer’s contribution is a distant memory.
Of course we cannot claim full responsibility for the ‘soul’ that arrives as we leave. We work with some brilliant interior designers and architects. Our role is as facilitators, artworkers, printers and installers. We are the people who convert the digital world of the screen into the real world of beautiful spaces.
While working in the commercial interior design sector we have worked on projects for multi-million pound contractors and with facilities teams of private companies who have no formal design processes. We have seen spaces at all stages; from plans, to a shell of the building, to when the trades are doing their ‘first fix’. We turn up in the middle of this hustle and bustle to do a site survey, and a few weeks later we arrive with rolls of print ready to do the makeover. We install all the artwork using company logos, picturesque wooded forest murals, beautiful tropical scenery, text, images, or perhaps colourful fun stickers if the space is for children. That dirty and noisy space from a few weeks ago is now a beautiful and noisy space as the new occupants go about their business, doing what they do best, and often better as their enthusiasm is heightened by their new space.
It is true that great spaces make business, learning or healthcare better. I was recently speaking to someone who works at a global accountancy firm and they commented on the way the team worked better in their new space and how work seemed easier. Many businesses and institutions work in stale white-walled boxes with little thought about how those walls could impact the productivity of workers, or the welfare of patients, or the aptitude of students young and old.
In addition to healthcare, we also work in corporate organisations and institutions. In medium to large businesses throughout the UK there is much hype about innovation and creativity. We cannot guarantee company growth, but we can offer this little idea. That dusty boardroom on the 4th floor, that no one uses any more that has the collection of all the ‘dead’ furniture? That could become a social hub or breakout zone. An area encouraging staff to meet, work and talk. It could be a space for ideas to cross-pollinate from department to department. It would no longer be a ‘dumping ground’, it would become an essential space for innovation – the engine-room of the company. Imagine – your top salesperson sits down to create a presentation for your latest widget in your new innovation space and he ends up sharing a few minutes and a coffee with the engineer who built the widget. The salesperson wonders why the widget does not have this one feature that all the customers seem to talk about. That conversation might change your company’s fortunes overnight, just because two people who don’t normally meet are in the same room. This may be a hypothetical situation, but the concept has been adopted by some of the world’s most innovative companies like Google and Apple. They encourage this concept of ‘idea cross-pollination’ by having shared kitchens between different disciplines, or by moving staff around their offices regularly to encourage diverse thinking. It will need a little more than just a nice mural to turn a space into an innovation hotspot, but with a great interior designer onboard and a supportive company policy, who knows if that space could foster the release of the world’s Next Big Thing.
Your space does not need to be solely about function. Gone are the days when people would choose to work for you just for pay, it is part of a much bigger picture, and that includes the work space. The vibe or spirit of the place needs to shout, “You’ll be great in this space!”. It needs to facilitate, to innovate, to make us feel cared for, to encourage us, to push us and fill us with optimism. Nature can do all these things for us (you have probably been on a moorland or a rocky beach and had similar feelings). Bring nature into work spaces with huge images of open landscapes, beautiful trails through woodland, the beauty in the detail of a flower, or a sunset overlooking paradise. Photographic murals are only our way of doing this – but get a great designer on board and they will bring in many more elements to make spaces inspiring. If we look at our species, two things are linked all the way through our journey from our ancient ancestors up until now. One is nature and the second is other people; a great space will give you beautiful inspirations and facilitate interaction with other inspiring people. These are the seeds of human progress.
“Grosvenor Interiors are dedicated to making better spaces for people to get better in, our strategic partnershipwith Wall Glamour is an essential part of our offering to healthcare trusts and hospitals in the UK.
The team at Wall Glamour are dedicated and diligent, they provide an excellent level of service and go well beyond the extra mile, sometimes in very challenging environments, to ensure that both we and our mutual clients are more than happy with the finished result; We are always confident that the team at Wall Glamour will ensure total satisfaction on all projects.”
Colin Horn, Managing Director of Grosvenor Interiors