Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Importance of Interior Design

 How much time does the average American spend indoors during a typical week?  Studies show on average, Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.   With spending such a significant number of hours in doors there has been a number of counter studies.  These counter studies evaluate how the built environment affects an individual’s overall health and well-being in a variety of different sectors of interiors spaces.  With this information employers and building owners are becoming increasingly aware how this can affect the bottom line.  There has been a substantial amount of research related to proper design improving student performance, contribution to quicker recovery time in hospitals, higher sales in retail markets, and more productivity in the working environment.  The focus of proper design in these spaces and how it affects the general public is an important aspect to create healthy functional spaces for the present and future population.
Registered interior designers specialize in creating these indoor environments.  An interior designer may focus their ability in a specific field including residential, commercial, sustainable design, healthcare, retail, education, hospitality, federal, historical, or assisted living; just to name a few.  Designers work with local and federal jurisdiction to establish the level of code compliance, product and interior build-out features, furniture, and equipment needed in order to pass code established by these jurisdictions. Designers work closely with the client to establish a design aesthetic layout the function and programming requirements of the space.  Interior designers coordinate with the architects, engineers, product vendors, and contractors to keep projects on schedule and within budget.  The coordination and communication between client, designer, architect and contractor assists with a smooth and successful project build-out.
Aesthetics play a major role in a successful design; professionals must be knowledgeable in design theories in order to create an aesthetically pleasing space.  Harmony and balance of patterns and architectural elements only a practiced designer can accomplish in an environment which has not been built yet. Designers are able to anticipate how people will feel in and move through an indoor environment and therefore effectively function in the environment.  Many use a systematic and coordinated methodology that involves the integration of research, analysis and knowledge into the creative process.  In addition to the design theories interior designers use within the built environment, they also have a keen understanding of product manufacture process and chemical make-up of interior basis products and substrates.  Specific indoor environments require different levels of needs as it pertains to maintenance, acoustics, and longevity, anti-microbial, cost, fast-tracked, or chemical resistant’s.  All of these items are taken into consideration when making selections for an indoor environment and a registered interior designer is well versed in all of these aspects of design.
In truth, a building can be built without an interior designer but an environment cannot be created without one.  With so many studies showing the pros and positive outcomes of hiring a professional interior designer one could see were the payoff would be.  Historically speaking an interior designer role first emerged in France around the Renaissance in order to coordinate all of the interior finishes.  The idea still stays the same but with the specialty needs of many areas and the technology of product changes every day it is a designer's job to achieve the following goals: 
  • Work with jurisdiction and understand life and safety goals of the building as well as the classification of the product needed for the particular build out. 
  • Have a knowledge base of the building function and the level of maintenance, proper product placement and location.
  • Work with the client on the vision and function in which the space is to make. 
  • Find and selection product which will meet and exceed all items stated above. 
  • Lastly, have knowledge based in all related fields such as architecture, landscape, electrical, and mechanical so communication can happen smoothly to have a coordinated and well defined design.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Discovering the Origin of Bananas - Urban Agriculture Reconnects Our Community to the Food that Sustains Us

By: Edward J. Barry Jr. • Principal and Jeff Martin • Landscape Architectural Manager

In celebration of National Peace Corps Day several moons ago, I made a presentation to a delightfully rambunctious bunch of elementary school children in Kewanee, Illinois. Naturally, I waxed fondly and passionately on the importance of serving one’s fellow man, and on the value of experiencing the rich cultures outside the boundaries of our American shores. Toward the end of my presentation, I held up a banana (which had been a staple food in all its many forms in East Africa’s Uganda where I had served), and asked if anyone knew where this delightful and nutritious fruit came from. Without skipping a beat, a particularly earnest young man rose to his feet and firmly stated that “Bananas come from Wal-Mart!”

This experience has stayed with me through the intervening years. The earnest young man in that classroom was no doubt trying to be clever and just a bit snarky, too. But he was also revealing the fact that beyond the modern-day grocery store where most of us in the developed world purchase our daily sustenance, he had no idea about the origin of bananas, or their rich botanical history and complexity.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014: Safety IS a Priority

contributed by Monica Washington, Safety Coordinator, Farnsworth Group
Safety at Farnsworth Group is something that is taking top priority and is beginning to impact the culture…and our bottom line. One way our company is making this happen is through a strategy of implementing Four Keys of Safety: Awareness, Training, Accountability and Recognition.

AWARENESS of safety is something that our company has always maintained, but with renewed focus we are elevating the importance of keeping employees safe. We are learning from our past, the good things we are doing and identifying opportunities to improve. We are enhancing the good to make it great and implementing improvements to strengthen any programs. As part of the key to awareness, each manager meets monthly with their group to focus on safety and how it relates to their team and their job duties. The managers are getting more involved with safety and they are engaging their teams with safety in a positive approach.

TRAINING, the second key to our strategy focuses on understanding the risks and providing training to minimize those hazards to keep our employees safe. Safety training at Farnsworth Group takes many forms from classroom training to online to on the job training. Over 65% of our staff has taken the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry Training. Other trainings include special industry training as well as general safety training. Our training style and methods are evolving allowing us to incorporate training into our every day job responsibilities.

Awareness and training support the third key of safety which is ACCOUNTABILITY. Employees are held accountable to work safe each day, complete training in a timely manner and wear personal protective equipment.  Looking out for coworkers as well as their own wellbeing is critical to building a culture of safety. The requirement to report incidents and address near misses helps us to be proactive in our approach to safety.

Finally, RECOGNITION encompasses all the other keys of safety by celebrating accomplishments and rewarding staff for safe behavior. We are in our infancy developing strong recognitions around safety but plan to flush out and continue to make this a strong focus in 2014.