Designing to Corporate Standards

Corporate standards for office interior design are critical to any organization’s ability to normalize and set consistent expectations for real estate development. They also provide human resources benefits, because they ensure that employees receive consistent work spaces without prejudice. Standards help reinforce branding through architecture, and achieve a level of space performance at an anticipated cost.

Blue branded office suites at EMC corporate headquarters

Working with corporate standards is an excellent opportunity to not only showcase design skills, but also influence the direction of a space. Here are some basic principles to keep in mind when working with corporate standards.

Understand and Visit

Many businesses have made significant investments in documenting and specifying their standards. When working with such a company for the first time, after receiving all of the documentation, arrange to visit a built-out space. Seeing the physical manifestation of their standards, as well as understanding the space and how it is being used, will assist in the deployment of the standards in the future.

  • Close up of wood detail interior design for a corporate office
  • White mesh on red background interior design finish
  • Colorful painted details on corporate interior design feature

Order Samples

Although most of the interior design finishes may be selected, actually having those samples in your office and being able to compare and view them together will benefit your understanding of how the standard will lay out in the space.

SMMA Interior Design Director Marie Fitzgerald examining order samples
Corporate Open Office Design at CVS Digital Enterprise Center

Test-Fit First

Most companies have rigid planning metrics. Unfortunately, they are usually based on sample floorplan layouts in simple building shells. Particularly with complex envelopes and challenging column spacing, many of these sample layouts may not achieve the proper density due to lost space and irregular-shaped architecture.

Working through these issues with your client right away will set the expectation beyond what the initial planning metric may have shown. It also provides an opportunity to perform code verification on the space.

Many companies now have density metrics greater then what typical office buildings (especially older ones) were designed for, in terms of toilet-room count and egress components.

Nancy Talbot quote on wall of Talbots corporate office

Meet the Corporate Branding Team

So much of standards revolves around branding. Often, businesses will staff a dedicated employee whose primary responsibilities are based around maintaining the representation of the brand. Making sure that your design and implementation adhere to client brand guidelines and properly reflect the corporate brand is key to office design.

Have Fun!

All projects have opportunities in them for design. Perhaps more importantly, though, are the opportunities they provide for learning and building client relationships. No two projects are the same, and simply because a company has standards does not preclude the design team from pushing elements of the aesthetic.

SMMA's Andy Elliott on a site visit with an architect

Successful office space is a reflection of corporate brand and culture, and helps all employees identify with their environment and be successful in it.

  • Sit to Stand Corporate Office Design