Even before the majority of the global workforce were forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workspaces were already gradually transitioning away from the usual traditional and highly corporate office model. You know the type – closed cubicles, private offices and a lack of collaborative meeting spaces. For the people working there, it was just another workspace to spend the work day. Instead, companies became more open to rejuvenating their offices with a fresher and more modern look to get employees excited about coming into the office.
Finding a room with a gorgeous interior is easy, but meeting an interior design firm to bring your vision to life is another story. Fortunately, Singapore has an abundance of amazing independent designers and boutique design companies who can transform your office into something incredible – a well-designed space that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but strategic and functional too. To help, we’re taking a deep dive to discover the best up and coming interior design companies in Asia that deserve to be on your radar.
Go on, take a look and get inspired!
First up is ielo design, a Singapore-based creative agency that offers a wide range of services from commercial interiors to communications and marketing tools. With a mission to combine strategy with design, the company places great emphasis on understanding the behaviours and expectations of their users as a first step for every project they design, and strives to create a stronger and deeper connection with their customers that goes beyond aesthetics.
Their client list is extensive and includes some high-profile brands including Valrhona, Havaianas and Lagardère Travel Retail. But when asked to describe a project of note, ielo design referred us to a project they completed for Dathena last year, a company specialising in Artificial Intelligence (AI), to do away with a corporate office and adopt a new workplace concept.
Dathena enlisted their help to design Dathena Social House, a modern shophouse, with the aim of encouraging meaningful collaboration and interactions between employees. Based on the brief provided by the client, ielo design worked to create unique spaces that contributed to a cosy, welcoming atmosphere that would foster creativity amongst users and allow employees to work, socialise and relax within the three-storey shophouse.
With several years of experience under their belt, ielo design has witnessed how the interior design industry has undergone a significant transformation over the last few years.
And if there was anything the design industry learned from the pandemic, it’s that employees miss the social interaction from working in the office. And just like that, the social house concept was born. An office with a social house layout offers relaxed seating areas dedicated for employees to have casual gatherings and company events.
Lastly, there was the hybrid concept, which is an adaptation of the social house with a mix of areas conducive for work and socialization. This was particularly important as the pandemic situation improved over the last couple of months. More employees felt comfortable returning to the office, which called for more deskspace. Certain areas were retained for social interactions, while other spaces were filled with additional office chairs and work desks.
Rather than maintaining a big expensive office or worry about fitting their workforce into a workspace that’s too small, ielo wanted to help businesses rethink the way they use space, and worked with companies to adapt the spaces they have to the way they work. The workplace should reflect care, lend inspiration and encourage socialisation. Interior design plays a part in bringing these new aspirations to life through new creative spaces, which in turn boosts creativity, collaboration, and productivity amongst employees.
On the other hand, if companies are reluctant to adapt or don’t adapt fast enough to keep up with new workspace practices, their staff may feel that the office lacks proper workspaces and be reluctant to return to the office. So, it is crucial for interior design firms to educate companies on the need to evolve, or risk losing out to competitors with better designed workspaces.
And while it’s valid to have concerns about the scope of the investment, creating a fancy office is not just about having the biggest design budget.
To ielo design, if the needs of a company and it’s employees have been well assessed and proper planning has been done, they can save on rent by having smaller but more efficient spaces. This way, a greater part of the budget can be allocated towards creating higher quality spaces despite them being smaller. Moreover, they believe (and we agree!) that design does not have to be expensive to look good! Simplicity is key and can work wonders when carefully expressed. For example, a simple coat of paint on an accent wall and good lighting can already create a world of difference.
That’s why we really appreciate that ielo takes the time to assess and understand the company’s team’s needs even before they begin the design process, so as to help their clients save on costs, improve productivity and space utilization.