Tom Polucci, director of interiors based in HOK’s New York office, sat down with Metropolis Magazine for a discussion about the many forces driving workplace design.
Excerpted from Metropolis:
Avinash Rajagopal: You’ve done so many workplaces over the years. What do you think is the most significant way the American office has changed in the last decade or so?
Tom Polucci: For the last ten years, it’s been meeting real estate needs, depending on how an organization is growing or contracting and what impact that has on space. Outside of just the traditional thinking around design and construction, I think there is an impact with coworking sites and with how clients are asking for the delivery of design services and space.
We’re seeing this with certain clients: They’re looking at the competition a little differently. I don’t think it’s just traditional design firms competing for work. We’re competing with real estate organizations like brokerage firms. We’re competing with individuals who are in the coworking space who are providing real estate solutions to clients in a different way. There’s also an interest in the technological advances of how offices are connected. With smart offices and sensor technology, understanding how the space is performing is becoming more important.
AR: To me, that seems to suggest that interior designers coming into the profession need to be equipped with a whole new set of skills just around the design process.
TP: Agreed. I’m fascinated lately by the number of students I’ve been meeting who are getting degrees in construction management as well as in design. They’re really thinking, “OK, it’s a lot more than just knowing how to conceptualize a solution, come up with some great ideas, and articulate them. I’ve got to be able to deliver this.” I’m also fascinated by professionals who choose to come into design as a second career. I’m talking about somebody who might have been in advertising or maybe construction or another allied field. They come to the profession with a level of understanding of how business works and what it means to actually get something approved in an organization. I find those people incredibly compelling to work with.