Aside from visual stimulation, our sense of touch is influential in how we form impressions and moods. Although it can be overlooked when decorating an office space, the sensation of touch is a fundamental part of our daily experience, and this extends to that of the workplace. It’s why office furniture gets more ergonomic year on year.
It’s generally acknowledged that natural decoration using wood and textiles can help to inspire feelings of warmth. Similarly, materials like metal and plastic can convey coldness and sterility if overused. A tactile or haptic design is a relatively unexplored field, mainly focusing on the shape and feel of mobile devices within the technology industry. However, it can be extremely valuable when considering the importance of the door in the context of workplace design. There is perhaps no single part of an office or any other working space that is touched more than door furniture.
Things to think about…
As we know, the key to a positive working environment is to create balance across space. This is true not only in colour but in texture. It is fairly straightforward to identify why an office looks good, but identifying why it feels good can be more complex. As part of this, when considering and choosing door furniture there are certain things to think about…
Depending on the status of a building’s occupants, a designer will probably have limited responsibility for external door security. A building which leases multiple office spaces, for example, will include a general foyer area and indeed will hold responsibility for the secure access into each individual office space. Internally, however, a tenant must consider their levels of security throughout their office environment. Do you wish certain rooms to be outside of general access? Are there free flow areas? Should meeting rooms have a locking facility? In which case, how hi-tech should this be?
This extends to more than simply whether a door is external or internal. Door furniture should instinctively imply the direction of its use. Put simply – avoid placing a pull handle on a push door! Try not to forget consistency of signage; to present a coherent look, door function signs should feature the same finish and style as the door furniture.
Of course, the detail featured on the door furniture throughout your building should be in keeping with the overall design scheme. If your new media offices boast bright contrasting walls, then a brass finish will look most out of place. Similarly, a brushed chrome handle would be a peculiar choice for a retail or academic space that looks towards either the historical or rural in style. Weight and shape of handles, in particular, are subtle features that can have a massive impact. Heavier handles with a shape that complements the hands that use it will inspire a high-end and sophisticated association in your overall workplace atmosphere.
Of course, sometimes a working space prides itself on its individuality. This will often be reflected in the design of the company’s office areas – right down to the doors. Designer ironmongery can feature leather, wood and material combinations; there really is no end to the possibilities. As long as your budget can stay the distance…
We are all guilty of taking door furniture for granted. However, it is certain that when you encounter a high-quality ergonomic handle, you will notice it. Our sense of touch plays an understated but considerable part in the way that we interact with our working environment, and consequently how our sense of well-being is affected. So try not to leave your doors as an afterthought in design, as they can really… well… open doors.