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Social media and design

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent) Filed on May 20, 2012
Social media and design

Global demographics and technology have drastically changed architecture and design over the last 10 years. According to Cheryl Durst, executive vice-president and CEO of the International Interior Design Association , a younger world and social media are transforming how people think about their relationships to work and the office environment must respond accordingly.

“The world is getting younger and the youth are more visually literate than their older counterparts. Lighting and colour are design priorities; as is speed. This demography consumes their information in 15 second news feeds. Design must not only look great, it must function quickly,” added Durst. “Work can happen “anywhere” because of technology, but increasing work/the workplace, has become a hub of “social activity and interaction”. This is a challenge, because designers need to create spaces that facilitate both work and social interaction,” she added.

Social media and design (/assets/oldimages/greentjh_20052012.jpg)Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram are visual interfaces and clearly make design a more “immediate” concept for most people – giving them access to design. Clients/consumers have become more discerning about what they want because of this access/exposure and designers are working with much more sophisticated clients who are exposed to a universe of information about design. While architects and designers have always been trained to create spatial environments in the context of the end user’s experience, IIDA says the influence of design in commercial environments is more pervasive than it has ever been.

Durst added that the fundamentals of workplace design remain unchanged. “Ultimately, design is about people. It’s not just a facade or decoration. We will always need to consider the whole end user experience and so space, security and privacy are basic needs that a designer must always meet,” she said.

Companies that took the leap

Take independent branding, print, marketing and web design consultancy North 55. In 2008, they revamped their office space. Drab desks were turned into a colourful creative ‘green’ workspaces, which reportedly boosts creativity among its employers. The company spent a whooping Dh1.5 million for the fit-out.

Craig Falconer, creative partner of the agency, said: “As an agency we see a lot of waste being created, especially in the print sector.

We strongly believe that the marketing industry, along with its clients, can make a difference by thinking about how they market their brands.

We are committed to educating our new and existing clients on how they can help combat climate change through their marketing initiatives.”

Also, North55 is a member of the ‘Design Can Change’ initiative, which encourages designers to consider the environment through their working practices. “The Design Can Change initiative shares the same values as North55 and that’s why we decided to take the Design Can Change pledge. We implement sustainable practices throughout the entire design process: design strategy, execution, production and distribution. We also discuss sustainable practices with our suppliers, to help create a cleaner world for the future,” added Falconer.

General Electric (GE) redefined the concept of sustainability with their new office at Sowwah Square in Abu Dhabi. Spread over 3,500 square feet of pure ‘greenness’, the office houses over 300 employees.

The office has state-of-the-art lighting equipment, demountable and reusable glass partitions, recycling bins, several energy efficient equipment, daylight sensors and AV equipment controlled by an iPad. “Overall, the new office environment exudes a fresh, open and contemporary ambience, aimed at promoting creative thinking. In fact, environmental and ‘green’ considerations have always been part of GE’s work ethic, as underlined by our ecomagination commitment to imagine, build and deliver innovative solutions that solve today’s environmental challenges and benefit customers and society,” said Samer Mahdi, construction project services leader, GE Capital.

In 2009, the Dubai Chamber became the 1st LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified existing building in the Arab world, demonstrating that buildings in this region can be greened without major investments.

Since then it has renovated its offices utilising green building standards, which has led to further energy and water savings.

It has also doubled productivity per square metre and helped increase staff satisfaction from 72 per cent on the old floors to 93 per cent on the new floors.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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