Personalising your personal space – Rich Mahogany, a poor choice?

Dream & Create Nude Office

Personalising your personal space – Rich Mahogany, a poor choice?

By Kenny Lau with Marlon “Train” Forrester


Everyone is different and so are their offices, workspaces and businesses but the result should always be the same – the establishment, growth and strengthening of your brand in the eyes of your target consumer.

So what does that have to do specifically with your choice of wood panels over wallpaper, exposed beams over ceiling tiles?  Nothing… and everything.  To explain: if we accept that visiting clients, inspired job applicants and achievement-focused staff will be influenced by your business environment, then a long hard look should be taken at what your personal space says about you.

Look around you…  Maybe walk away from your desk or work area and walk back in –with fresh eyes.  Imagine you are someone else and are meeting you for the first time or perhaps you’ve already met and are about to work on a project together, in that space, for an extended period of time.  Does it work? Does the space say what you want it to say?  Will everybody in the room be focused on the work?  Distracted? Comfortable? “Weirded out?” (“why the moose heads, this is an actuary’s office?).  Ponder on these questions.  Think long, think hard, think again about your office fitout.  If you had the chance would you select furniture that aligns more closely with your brand?  Probably.  This is just one of the questions worthy of meaningful consideration.

There are as many traps as there are tips for creating the ideal business environment for you and yours.  I got the rest of the design team here at Dream & Create (D&C) together to talk through the important ones with Train from our marketing department – his office looks like the barroom under the stands of a dilapidated football stadium from the 70s… on purpose! He’s willing to change though but doesn’t know how.  We offered these 5 important tips:

Have you seen the light?

Whether you are changing the world from the compact home office of your start-up or the lavish 40th floor command centre of a fortune 500 company, light is the great equaliser.  There’s a difference between intimate and dingy and it’s not the numbers on the elevator, it’s intent and consideration.  With that in mind consider natural light sources and the effect as well as choice of lamps vs fluoros and so on.  Decide whether clients peering into the semi darkness while you and you alone are bathed in a cone of light emanating from a single spotlight above you.  It’s a good choice if you’re bent on a life of crime and aching to become part of the criminal underworld – not great for trust-based conversations.

What about bathing yourself and your clients in dazzling light?  If you do most of your work on large monitors, poring over pixelated detail does it help or hurt your objectives if weepy-eyed clients are blinking hard at your creations while retinas are being burnt away? What best serves your brand in that environment?  All important questions worth considering.

Hues are your friend

What colour is your office?  If your answers are straight from the primary colour wheel we all learned about in primary school (elementary school if you’re American, preparatory school if you’re fabulously wealthy), trust me, you can do better.  Too many people are saying my office is blue (for example) with white chairs.  Why not select neutral colours that accentuate your feature furnishing like an “Eastern Gold” as an example?  The walls aren’t there simply to hold the ceiling up.  Get them working harder for your personal brand.

Clutter is not!

“Clutteral” damage!

Avoid clutter because as much as you may want people to see at a glance, every submission you’ve ever written and every certification you’ve ever earned it looks messy.  In fact it does more than that, it says you don’t know what you’re doing and there’s an even chance that you’re not great at your job.  You might be.  But the mish-mash of awards, samples, documents and memorabilia says that you’re just not up to snuff.  Let every item breathe, give it some space and display nothing without a reason.

Can you feel it?

Look and feel.  Look and feel.  That’s what completes a first and lasting impression.  Definitely consider textures when the time comes to select office furniture, think about feature walls and any other aspect of your office fitout.  Texture adds depth, provides contrast and reveals and enhances complexities to a workspace that does not live within the pages of a magazine or on a mobile device but all around you – and your valued clients or team.  Consider texture and feel the difference.

This is personal

Let’s be clear, this is all about you.  Understand that if you have the opportunity to stamp your character on your surroundings, complete your brand by literally enveloping yourself and those around in its elements then by all means, you must.  That means searching yourself.  Who are you, what are your likes, passions, influences, aspirations?  Organise your thoughts, enlist the help of skilled creatives like our team at Dream & Create and then throw yourself into the briefing process with vigour, verve, vim and whatever other “v” words that come to mind.  Remember, this time it’s personal!

To be honest, there are many other considerations depending on how in depth the reimagining of your space will become: materials, Australian Standards, Budget, materials, furniture and the flexibility/adaptability thereof and the list goes on.  But above all, grasp this opportunity to leave your stamp on your business and your impression in people’s minds…

And definitely yes to the mahogany!