Untapped potential in the design area of the property industry
1. Sven, how did you come to Cushman?
From the beginning of my last semester at university, I started looking at work experience and entry-level positions in interior design with a focus on CAD and 3D work. I applied, got an interview, and three days after I graduated, I was already here at the office.
2. Your job combines creativity and property. What does that mean in concrete terms?
‘Selling’ property isn’t just about understanding numbers and statistics, but about grasping the potential of a space, knowing what the customer needs and wants, and then integrating these into design suggestions. It’s about defining new standards for a workspace which improve staff wellbeing – whether that is ergonomically suitable furniture or creating spaces and zones which allow staff to ‘think different’ or just relax. Then there is ensuring compliance with all of the regulations covering workspaces in Germany. What I do is combine all of these elements into plans, images, and 3D-renderings in order to offer the client a comprehensive view of the potential of a given space and the future of their company in it.
3. What do you make of the current trend for designing offices like lounges and clubs? Is this something which should be kept for classic co-working concepts or is it also something which classic corporate clients can pursue as they invest more in office design?
Loosening up a standard office space with lounge elements or room-in-room solutions for telephone calls and meetings isn’t just clever from a productivity perspective, but also shows that, as an employer, the company values the time its employee spends and work and wants to make it better. Every job has its ups and its downs – and solutions have to be found. As such, workspace should be as adaptive and flexible as the member of staff and their working time.
In view of this, I would say that companies need to think differently: this doesn’t necessarily mean going in one specific direction, however, and as a designer, I don’t see it as my job to follow a given trend. It is in the interests of the customer for me to help them create a space which can survive the short lifecycle of a specific trend.
As for what you refer to as ‘classic corporate clients’, the answer is very simple: no-one who clings to outdated approaches can remain at the forefront. Indeed, anyone who wants to remain a leader needs to balance experience with fresh new talent, and the next generation is bringing a new set of requirements to the workspaces at which it will spend so much time. As such, my task is to combine classic, familiar elements with new approaches.
4. In your view, what does the perfect office look like?
The ideal office space is one that is adapted to the work which is to be carried out there. Communication should be encouraged, but not enforced; as such, the space should allow easy communication while making provision for concentrated work. What is more, there is no reason why the structure of the space should be hidden behind a wall at reception, but should instead offer applicants, clients, and other visitors some clues about the company culture. First impressions of interior spaces offer signals about what a company’s values are: is work done in teams or do long corridors and numerous rooms reveal a hierarchical organisational DNA? The perfect office is at once effective and yet impressive to everyone who sees it, and this is a result which can be reached using a variety of methods. The most important thing is simple: thinking about the needs of the people who will be in the space every day. Nothing makes staff more productive than feeling comfortable where they work.
5. If you had to describe the real-estate sector in three words, which words would you choose?
Can “not what I expected” count as three words? There is a lot of untapped potential in the design area of the property industry!
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This interview was conducted by Zarina Merkel, Senior Consultant, Marketing & Communications at Cushman & Wakefield