Transforming a Warehouse Into a Retail Space With Clever Design

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Transforming warehouses into homes has long been a trendy choice in urban markets like New York and Chicago. But cutting edge interior designers with an eye for architecture have recently been developing these warehouses into exciting and edgy retail spaces.

In a competitive market, industrial redevelopment turns abandoned eyesores into useful properties. Warehouses are often attractive to retailers with their “proximity to major transportation hubs and thoroughfares, high parking ratios, architectural interest, potential for open-plan layouts, and high ceilings. Industrial sites also usually are near water lines, sewage systems, roads, and utility lines.” Upgrading these spaces with clever design that utilizes the unique lines of the space provides a quality, low rent solution for growing businesses.

The creative possibilities of abandoned warehouses are infinite. Furniture retailer Hunt & Gather moved their showroom/gallery into a renovated warehouse to meet the needs of a younger, creative customer base. With the new open floor plan, Hunt & Gather can highlight the unique design of their wide variety of pieces. Taking warehouse design in a completely different direction, urban farmers are using industrial properties to provide green solutions to city spaces. Creative thinking allowed farmers to redesign warehouse spaces to grow plants indoors and control environmental factors like pesticides and climate change.

While an innovative solution, transforming warehouse spaces requires a professional team. Hiring an interior designer with experience in industrial design allows you to transform the unique features of the space from exposed pipes to vintage furniture to create the perfect look for your retail space while remaining safe and following established building codes. Contact openUU to brainstorm ideas for help designing the perfect industrial space for your company’s needs.

4 Ways Office Design Can Increase Productivity

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Whether you’re starting from scratch or refurbishing your current office, creating a professional, functional and comfortable space will project the right image to your clients and increase overall productivity.

Studies show that comfort and productivity are interrelated, and most experts agree that almost every office can benefit from a few changes in layout and organization. Consider some of the following ways you can improve the comfort level of your office to increase the productivity of the staff.

Create a comfortable environment

Strive to make your office a healthy and comfortable workplace. Use ergonomic furniture and accessories, proper lighting, and a functional design to minimize discomfort and distraction and help you and your employees work more productively.

Encourage employees to customize their workstations with accessories that help them work comfortably – keyboard trays, anti-glare screens, task lighting and footrests – and to adjust their chairs to the proper height and angle. You can even hire an ergonomic expert to consult with each worker individually. A quick evaluation will determine what each employee needs to do to avoid repetitive-stress injuries.

Improve your layout

Take a look at where employees sit and the location of the office equipment. Consider ways to improve the overall flow of your office. Put printers, fax machines and other shared equipment in areas that are easy to access, and seat work teams or departments together in shared areas or cubicles. Try to open spaces and align desks, so it’s easy to move around the office.

Use mobile furniture

Adjustable and mobile furniture is a good option for growing businesses with limited space; you can easily reconfigure cubicles and workstations and rearrange your office to accommodate growth, partition departments, or separate equipment areas and other noisy parts of the office.

Control noise levels

Consider using panel systems, carpeting, and ceiling tiles to absorb sound and provide privacy. To reduce auditory distractions, put fax machines, copiers and other noisy office equipment in a separate area surrounded by cubicle walls or partition walls. Try to keep nosier employees, such as customer service representatives or salespeople, who spend a lot of time on the phone, away from those who require quiet work spaces.

If you need help with any aspect of office design or layout, consult a professional. They can help you select furniture and assist you with space planning, lighting, interior construction, fire and building codes, and other office design issues.

Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer to Help Design Your Restaurant

By Blog, Renovation Resources

As a budding young chef you have worked hard to make it to the top. As you go to open your new restaurant you have carefully considered each item on your menu to make sure it is crafted to your exacting standards of quality and taste. But have you spent the same amount of time considering the design of your new restaurant?

Why Design Matters

The famous Ohio State University study confirmed restaurateurs worst fears when it reported that 60% of restaurants fail within the first year and a dramatic 80% fail within five. While naturally it is important to produce food of the highest caliber, it is equally important to provide a setting that encourages people to stay, socialize, and eat in your one of a kind space. A recent study published by the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management on why restaurant fail lists decor as a key reason many new businesses fold. The study concluded that design failures directly contributed to a competitive and economic loss. Many restaurateurs are not equipped to design for a specific space and “architectural limitations were found to be one of the major factors in restaurant failures especially in urban settings, and some of the architectural limitations in restaurants have even resulted in the greater failure of the business.”

How Hiring a Designer Can Help Your Restaurant Stay Competitive

As the study shows, restaurateurs need to be aware of the specific benefits and limitations of the space they have acquired for their new restaurant. By hiring an interior designerwith the ability to utilize the architectural elements of your space, you can maximize your competitive edge with a restaurant that combines excellent food with a dynamic design. Architectural Digests agrees that a beautiful design can sell a restaurant in their article on the 10 Most Beautifully Designed New Restaurants. Entrepreneur Magazine also offers some Low-Cost Ideas for restauranteurs looking to plan a design on a budget.

If you are looking for an innovative designer to help make your one of a kind restaurant a success, contact openUU.

Top Renovation Tips For Your Commercial Space

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-tips-for-your-commercial-spaceWhether you just want to freshen up your office space or you’re going for an all-over renovation, there’s no getting around the messy and time-consuming nature of an office renovation. Here are our top renovation tips to help make this as short and easy a process as possible so you can get back to work… in style:

Think long term

How you need to use your office space now might change in a year or two if you’re planning on expanding your business. Before you start renovating, make sure you know what your five-year plan is for the business so you can make renovations accordingly. You don’t want to go through this process more often than you need to so work with your designer to develop a renovation plan that will allow your business to grow. Introducing smart storage solutions is one way to make sure your business doesn’t outgrow your space or your renovation.

Think about your employees

You might be making the final decisions about paint and carpeting, but consider how you want your employees to work when you start your renovation project. Adding in ergonomic and/or standing work stations in offices can help your employees by reducing the strain on their bodies that can come from desk work. As the research keeps rolling in on the negative aspects of a sedentary work style, more and more employees are searching for ways to work while walking or standing. Be proactive now in order to keep top talent working for you and boost their productivity.

Go light

In general, light colors are more conducive for work spaces, but don’t go too crazy with the coloring. Neutral colors along with windows that let in natural light give offices an inviting feeling in contrast to dark colors that tend to bring down productivity.

Natural lighting

Along with keeping your paint and furniture light, make sure to incorporate natural light in your office. It’s no secret that people generally don’t appreciate the look of fluorescent lights, but research has concluded that natural light really does help people work better. A study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that employees who were exposed to natural light in offices overall had a better quality of life than those who were not. These improvements include “longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.” Incorporate windows and/or skylights into your design to help your employees and to make your commercial space a brighter and healthier place.

Think about the benefits

Adding up the cost of money and time for the renovation might have you start second-guessing the project, but remember that there are a lot of benefits to renovating your office space. Customers and clients will appreciate your updated look, especially if your current space is sporting old trends. In addition, updating your windows, lighting, even your faucets can save your company a lot of energy usage, which translates to a significant amount of money saved over the long haul. In addition, your employees will be happier and more productive in an updated, contemporary space, which will translate to a boost in business.

Working with a designer is the best way to make sure your office renovation will serve your business now and in the future. For more ideas on how to renovate your commercial space, contact us today.

5 Great Reasons to Hire a Professional Interior Designer

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-reasons-to-hire-professional-interior-designerWhen it is time to think about giving your professional space a facelift, it is a good idea to employ strategies that have worked in other aspects of your business. For instance, when you need a good accountant, you do not hesitate to find one that understands your business needs and can meet those needs successfully. When you need an executive assistant, you carefully consider the qualified candidates and choose one that matches your goals and objectives. When you choose to renovate, the same principle applies.

A good interior designer can do much to make your renovation a smooth and pleasant journey. Here are five great reasons to hire an interior designer.

1) A professional interior designer can save you a great deal of money.

While some think that hiring a designer will be cost-prohibitive, often the reverse is true. A designer with a good working knowledge of structural matters as well as aesthetic concerns will be able to steer you away from  costly mistakes in the renovation process, thereby saving you both time and money. And with additional money to spend, you can achieve more of the look that your professional space deserves.

2) A professional interior designer will use a trained eye.

What does that mean, exactly? A designer has been trained to recognize what is right and what is wrong with your space. Often, a designer can make suggestions that you may have never imagined to maximize the potential of your space.   Are you interested in a more traditional office space with individual partitions, or are you thinking of a more open design?  If you are having trouble deciding what will work best for your business, a designer will discuss how your enterprise works and make suggestions that will help you achieve your goals. Designers are often experts at “thinking outside the box”, thereby making your space unique and wow-worthy.

3) A professional designer will know people.

As you know with your own business, there is much value in having good, dependable contacts. The same is true for designers. Often a professional designer knows a variety of people you will need as work commences on your project.  This will save you both time and money, as you will not have to find reliable carpenters, painters, plumbers, and other workers in the building trades without expert advice. And with solid workmen supporting the professional design at every step, the finished product will meet or exceed your expectations.

4) A professional designer can help you budget and plan your renovation well.

With the knowledge of standard costs for various aspects of a renovation, the designer can work with you to find the best resources available for your needs. Taking the guesswork out of your projected budget is a real bonus for you, as it alleviates anxiety regarding the renovation process.  Often, your designer can suggest upgrades that will enhance the value of your space considerably, while still keeping an eye on making you and your employees comfortable.

5)  A professional designer can help you plan and visualize your space.

You inhabit your office space for hours every day and are accustomed to the way things are arranged there.  Sometimes, when you think about renovation, it may be difficult to truly visualize what changes can be made to bring your space back to life.  A good designer can see things with a fresh perspective, offering ideas on a wide variety of design options that will get your creative juices flowing again.  Then, once you have a clear picture of where you want to go with the project, the designer can ensure that your vision is honored throughout every step of the process.

These are just a few of the benefits of working with a professional designer. To learn more, please contact us. We will be happy to show you how we can benefit your project today.

Estimating Your Renovation Time

By Blog, Renovation Resources

blog-estimating-renovation-timeUpgrading your home or office space will increase your comfort, make your clients and guests feel more comfortable and increase productivity.

Before diving in to a new project, you might be wondering how to estimate your renovation time. There are many factors involved with a project that affect its timeliness, but there are some proactive steps you can take to estimate your timeline and minimize delays.

Factor in Prep Time

Even the smallest miscalculation can cause delays to your renovation project. It might be tempting to rush in, but working with your interior designer to accurately measure, develop a budget and draw out plans will save you time in the long run. Prep work, along with requesting and gathering appropriate documents from government agencies average a month or more, and can take up to three months, depending on the project. Architectural construction can last more than a year, due to the extensive documentation required before work can commence. Fixing a mistake can be far more time-consuming than doing things right the first time.

Consider the Scope of your Project

Minor cosmetic changes such as painting can be completed in a day or two, but even small tasks like getting a quote from a contractor will take up to a week or so. Small renovations can take 2 to 3 months and highly customized projects that involve heavy construction and equipment installation can take several months or longer. The average kitchen renovation takes between four and six weeks, for example. Home renovations differ from commercial renovations and so do their timelines.

The size, age and location of your space will also factor in to the time estimate. Unexpected complications often arise during projects that can delay the initial timeline. Moving of electrical and plumbing components and repair to unknown structural damage are among the few reasons for work delays.  Collaborate with your designer to develop a timeline that factors in each component of your project.

Communicate with your Interior Designer

An experienced interior designer will give you a good feel for a project’s timeline and also discuss potential complications. Your designer will work with you to determine what needs to be done to avoid delays. This could range from making a tile selection to confirming furniture pieces. Of course, not all delays can be anticipated, so expect to work with your designer throughout the project to update your timeline.

Don’t Skip Steps

All in all, a small-scaled renovation project can take about 2 months, including prep time and the actual renovation process. Larger scope projects may require a bit more planning, and can take up to 3-4 months. Renovation can cause disruption to your household or business, so it’s tempting to skip steps to save time. Working with unlicensed vendors, making last-minute changes and rushing through processes can all lead to mistakes, fees and delays. It’s important to be realistic from the beginning and understand that skimping because of time or budget can lead to costly and time-consuming delays and headaches.

You can add comfort and value to your home or office space with minimal disruption by trusting experts, properly planning and setting realistic goals. Contact Us to learn more about developing a project timeline and creating the home or business that works for you.

Nike Office Design Feature Vibrant Colors

By Blog, Renovation Resources

Neutral colors and sedate decor have their place, color is king when it comes to Nike office design. Recently, we had the opportunity to design the conference room facilities at Nike’s Hong Kong office.

You can’t have Nike without its brand-recognizing orange, or without the Nike illustrations that are so much a part of its heritage. As explained in a recent news feature in the South China Morning Post, in addition to those inspirations, our other inspiration for the conference room design was the Google workspace — that is, a playful area where people want to come to work. We wanted to provide a casual atmosphere in which creativity and a sort of social productivity were fostered. Pops of color, including orange, were important to the project, as was the vision of movement and athleticism.


Nike: Conference in Hong Kong by openUU

The conference facilities feature a lounge area with custom furniture that is easy to move. Conference rooms are separated from each other with movable partitions. There is a group area which is designated by a blackboard, brightly colored seating, and a bright Astroturf wall. The space was tied together both by the ability to link the rooms together into larger, shared quarters, as well as by the sports theme throughout.


Nike Canteen by UXUS Design


Bright colors are also important in the design of the Nike Canteen, in the Netherlands, where designers UXUS created a sports pub-inspired space that wove Nike orange, bright red, and yellow throughout. The Canteen design also features logos, graphics, and even the favorite lunch choices of world class athletes were used as decoration. The project tied together seemingly different elements in order to meet the various needs of workers: cozy spaces for solitude, vast tables for group projects.


Nike London Office by Rosie Lee

You won’t see plain white walls at Nike’s London office either. Instead, you’ll find those founder-inspired hand-drawn illustrations, pictures of sports celebrities, and inspiring quotes. The three-floored design, completed by the Rosie Lee Agency, provides a cohesive, playful tone complete with bright orange, red, and blue contrasts.

Color is a great way to set the tone for a space as well as to honor a brand and its founder. What are your office’s true colors? For more information on office design, contact us.

3 Ways to Tackle Loft Design

By Blog, Renovation Resources


When looking at loft design, there are a few common challenges that should be considered: How does one deal with the industrial structures? Or how can space be redefined in changing situations? Here are three projects that approach warehouse and loft design in different ways, due to the functional and design needs of each client.

Oriental Warehouse Loft, for duplex-home living: This warehouse-cum-duplex in San Francisco took advantage of the natural wood beams and bare concrete walls to provide a sense of openness throughout the space. With window panels that make up the entire exterior wall, and clear, glass guardrails on the mezzanine allowed for an uninterrupted line-of-sight from upstairs to downstairs. With the mix of contemporary furniture, simple shelving, sleek finishes, and integrated shelving, the loft took advantage of every space and allowed it to flow gracefully throughout the loft. Overall, it allowed for a grand sense of space.

San Francisco warehouse conversion

San Francisco warehouse conversion

WCH 18A, for multi-purpose entertainment: This Hong Kong conversion was done in a former tea storage factory, and was designed to meet the needs of a fluctuating space that would serve as a private art gallery, social space, and weekend getaway. The movable metal-mesh panels helped create less or more space for gatherings that fluctuated in size, while also allowing for various pieces of art to be hung and displayed. The large windows lining the exterior wall, plus the outdoor terrace allows for lots of natural lighting. The design of the renovation took advantage of the warehouse’s structure and materials by integrating and laying bare the hard walls, floors, and metal fixtures. To add softer textures to the industrial features, soft rugs and plush seatings created a comfy atmosphere. Overall, the openness and simplicity to the floor plan allows for easy changes.


Multi-functional warehouse conversion in Hong Kong

Labahou project, as a creative household: This contemporary loft converted from a historic paper mill in France shows the simple marriage between industrial and rustic designs, in order to produce a peaceful setting for the family inhabiting the space. With the mix of metal structures in contemporary styles (such as the staircase) and natural wood beams, flooring, and furniture, the loft spaces created a nice contrast between natural and industrial, technology and simplicity. In addition, the white, black, and brown color schemes made the rooms brighter and bigger to the eyes. The large windows and multiple entrances to the patios helps facilitate an ease of movement from indoors to outside patios, leaving a peaceful imprint to the entire structure.

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Finding that intricate balance between industrial and contemporary is one of the challeging, yet creative parts to loft or warehouse design. For more design ideas, contact us.

Picking Designer Furniture at Affordable Prices

By Blog, Renovation Resources

With any business or company, it’s important to be able to attract and impress clients right as they enter your doors. Designer furniture is one way to do that: the right furniture pieces can present your work (and workplace) as a professional setting. But buying attractive, designer furniture can be daunting, especially for a business trying to keep costs low.

Here are our tips to buying furniture at affordable prices, without cutting out taste and beauty.

1. Pick quality and comfort for lasting function.

A tasteful office, collaborative work zone, or sitting area, is all about marrying function with design. When picking furniture, whether it’s a work table or counter with stools, or couches matched with an elegant coffee table, aim for reliable items with sturdiness and quality workmanship. Some designer pieces, such as moulded plastic seat bar stools, might be trendy yet uncomfortable for employees working long hours at a counter, and might not last long from continuous use. Picking quality pieces–especially for high-traffic areas–will help with reducing upkeep or replacement, keeping furniture costs low overall.

2. Aim for one eye-catching piece, then smartly budget the rest.

One way to help design your office space or waiting area is to pick one luxury piece that stands out in design or value, and have other (cheaper) pieces match or blend into the background. For example, an outstanding antique desk made from walnut paired with simple bookcases and comfortable seats can create a consistent, elegant look without breaking the bank. In addition, focusing on one or a few well-designed pieces can reduce the need for quantity. For example, in larger work spaces, picking quality items that serve more people–such as larger wooden tables with soft seats or upholstered benches–helps reduce the need to buy more furniture pieces.

3. Shop through outlet stores.

When you’re looking for quality furniture pieces in bulk, turn towards furniture outlet stores. When manufacturers offer their own lines to be sold directly to the public in outlet stores, they effectively remove the need for a distributor and retailer. By cutting out the middlemen, the end price you pay is smaller than what you’ll find at a retailer. The outlet store Decor8, for example, offers a great catalog for well-designed, high-quality pieces at a budget-friendly cost. In addition, a few outlet stores (including Decor8) will offer designer furniture as rentals for short-term use, which can be convenient for offices.

No matter what you choose, it’s important to pick your furniture that matches and presents your company’s style, while remaining comfortable and functional for employee and client use. For more advice on office design, contact us.