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Spotlight on our Designer

Meet Jess Cox, interior designer for East On Projects

Here she tells us how she developed her career in interior design and how she approaches each project for our commercial clients:

On her 7th birthday, Jess was given a doll’s house and her passion for all things interior began then. She tells us, “I never just played with the doll’s house, instead I gave it a full refurbishment and I knew that was what I wanted to do when I grew up”.

Following a career in construction and then several years in a family-run interiors business, Jess took the plunge into running her own consultancy when the opportunity came up to take over the clients from the family business when the owners retired to France. And it’s fair to say that she has never looked back!

"Commercial interior design is about finding creative and resourceful ways to make your space serve a purpose"

Jess Cox

"Creative, beautiful, unique and memorable - but above all, functional for staff"

These are the key attributes that Jess believes every project should achieve. And it’s an important distinction to make; whilst most businesses want to impress clients and other visitors and to display their credentials, none of this works if the staff aren’t in a supportive practical environment that enables them to deliver their services.

So how does Jess start the process? Quite simply, she stands in the workspace under consideration. Of course it is entirely possible to assess a space virtually but even now, nothing beats being physically in the building; this allows Jess to see the premises the way that colleagues and visitors see it and to understand how the business operates by speaking with people in each department and team. This part of the assessment also helps uncover what doesn’t work – is the printer in the wrong place or is there insufficient breakout space for lunch?

After this, we look at the client’s business ethos and find out what they want the workspace to say about them, for example, are their visitors High Net Worth Individuals used to visiting First Class airport lounges and expecting the same type of reception area from their lawyers? What is the client looking for, be that a calm or stimulating or relaxing environment?

How important is colour in commercial interior design?

Jess tells us that this is a critical aspect, not just because many businesses have their own brand guidelines and corporate colours to consider in the finished design, but also because the science of colour theory demonstrates that certain colours work better, for example in a hospital or wellbeing environment. And you’ll never find a blue kitchen in one of Jess’ projects as this isn’t conducive to a restorative lunch break.

Of course, each stakeholder in a project has an opinion on colour preferences and the art of great interior design is to weave these into the proposals whilst using any brand colours in the best way.

How does the business sector for each client company affect the finished design?

Jess, this all comes back to getting that balance of style and functionality right. For example, in the education sector we need to consider very hard-wearing materials and products, whilst in the health environment, everything has to be regulatory-compliant and then again many legal firms require a high-end and luxurious feel.

What are current trends in the workplace?

The effects of the rapid transition to home working and hybrid working practices during and post-pandemic are very evident. One of the clearest trends has been that a more “residential” look and feel is required in workspace transformations, with more comfortable seating a priority.

In addition, the rise of hot desking means that staff don’t have the opportunity to store personal items on and around their desks so there is a requirement for lockers to offer a different type of storage option. As part of her initial assessment, Jess will ask teams to fill in a questionnaire which uncovers storage requirements - these can differ greatly between management aims for paperless offices and staff needs for filing. All of this is accompanied by physically checking current storage arrangements - even opening the cupboards to see how they are used.

Tell us about any common challenges you face?

Natural light is often something we need to consider, especially in basement offices which Jess approaches with extra care. Whilst plants and biophilic solutions provide great options to promote a “natural” feel, of course the lack of light in basements means these aren’t generally possible so the alternatives of sunlight bulbs and using colours from nature in the overall design come to the fore here. Recent advances in artificial plants means that we can provide greenery that feels very realistic and can also be made of recyclable materials.

If you would like to discuss how we can give your business the same design inspiration, please contact us to arrange an on-site consultation.