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Are You at Home or the Office?


More and more, the line is blurring between residential and commercial design. One noticeable change I’m seeing on both sides today is the reuse of materials in unique and interesting ways. Things we’re used to seeing in residential design, like industrial elements or repurposed materials in the home, are now making their way into commercial office environments.

Take for example the Edison bulb. This classic fixture in homes is being incorporated into commercial spaces, whether it’s inside of a chic lamp shade or used as a strand of lights in an outdoor space. And with LED options, this can also be an energy efficient choice for businesses. Another example is the use of barn siding to create a door. This is a style we’ve seen in homes for some time, but have you seen this in an office? DIRTT, a leading manufacturer of prefabricated interior construction, installed a repurposed wood door in-between the modern glass panels of a conference room (see above). It’s the perfect balance of residential and commercial design elements.

The use of mixed and repurposed materials can take almost limitless form. You can tear apart an old building and reuse the pieces and parts in creative design features. Perhaps the brick turns into a pedestal base for an old door that’s now a coffee table. Repurposing gives materials a second life, or sometimes even a third or fourth life. And these unusual surprise elements delight people and make them feel good – often creating an emotional tie to a space. Our own Pittsburgh studio has a conference table made from reclaimed wood that also incorporates Pittsburgh steel. This personal touch gives the space lots of local character. It turns the table into a story.

Coming up with new ways to incorporate old materials into design solutions is becoming essential in commercial environments. Most often I see this being done in areas of collaboration, like reception or café areas, where groups of people are coming together and meeting. Designing a space that is comfortable, inviting, and grab-your-attention cool isn’t a trend. It’s critical for productivity and connection. When an office space has the right amount of home blended in, it really creates the ideal working environment.

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