The family company EKOMA design has been operating in the furniture market for more than 25 years. It provides a comprehensive solution for interiors in family houses, apartments, offices, hotels, restaurants, or congress halls. It also cooperates with developers in furnishing built-in kitchens and wardrobes for the latest residential projects – from professional design to turnkey implementation.
We interviewed the brand owners Ing. Alexander and Zuzana Milly about the clients’ specific requirements and which details to pay attention to when furnishing.
What are the main differences when designing the interior of apartments or houses and public spaces or offices?
ZM: The main difference is the purpose of the interior. Clients who furnish a house or apartment for themselves behave differently, and it is distinct for office spaces.
AM: Although the recent period has brought some interconnection of work and housing spaces.
What should you be careful about when designing and furnishing a small office?
ZM: Most of all, ensuring that it fulfills its purpose is necessary. The office, even if small, should have all the attributes of a job place. The space should be efficiently used. The chair needs to be ergonomic and comfortable. The storage space should be adapted to your needs, and there should be enough light and space for all office supplies.
AM: From my point of view, the biggest mistake is to underestimate the space. It requires a lot of attention if it is to serve you and you are to work effectively. The room can be furnished for multiple purposes to meet other needs than those of office space. Within this space, it is necessary to consider how many people and how long they will work there. How moldable your workplace is, also depends on the space, height adjustment of the desk, and ergonomics of the chair.
Have you met with designing a study in a house or apartment? How can you skillfully use and arrange a smaller workspace?
AM: In the past, this requirement concerned larger homes and people who were, for example, managers and needed to have a suitable office at home. Today, it concerns almost every client. For this purpose, individual manufacturers have invested a lot of time and effort in developing jobs applicable not only to large villas but also to smaller households.
ZM: Yes, it’s a standard requirement. We also did homework before the covid period, but now this requirement is common.
Open-space offices have their pros and cons. Still, it can quickly happen that such a workspace can be uncomfortable for employees if poorly designed. What needs to be considered for such designs?
AM: Yes. Open space is a challenging work environment unless adequately designed and furnished. Emphasis should be placed on resolving acoustics within a given space and building rest zones, zones for teamwork, etc.
ZM: Private zones for negotiations, telephoning, staff facilities, and well-solved jobs with acoustic screens, lights, and panels so that people do not disturb each other are essential.
Do you always consider acoustic solutions when designing offices? What are they?
AM: Definitely, yes. To ensure compliance for workers in a given open space, it is necessary not to underestimate acoustic solutions. Ideally, the company invests in acoustic projects that optimize the use of acoustic materials and elements in the space. Today we are equipped with various software that is able to design acoustic solutions. Acoustics in the work environment is crucial. It is a set of interior equipment from screens and various panels to acoustic lamps, wall cladding. Acoustic booths, which are currently produced in various dimensions for various purposes, are very modern.
ZM: Yes, acoustics is important. Today, acoustics is addressed even in residential interiors much more often than it was in the past. This is related to the need for a job also at home. Still, people place more emphasis on privacy and soundproofing, even in residential areas.
Based on your experience, can you generally assess what style has dominated in recent years and what people favor?
AM: That’s very individual. Most often, a modern and functional style prevails.
The post-covid period, when employers needed to attract people back to work, and the lack of labor force also brought increased demand to offices to make the working environment more attractive. Today, it is no longer a problem to find office interior sections such as game rooms with ping-pong tables, billiards, table football, breastfeeding mothers’ rooms, and various refreshment zones. Recently, we have implemented spaces evoking the feeling of an inner garden and special refreshment devices.
ZM: The clients and their ideas are essential. We made office interiors in the Old English style, one of our last projects carried many elements of Japanese culture, but the modern, very functional aesthetic style has a clear advantage.
Is redesigning finished spaces challenging, or does it bring more worries?
AM: Redesign requires greater flexibility and imagination, because it is more difficult to create a nice interior while accepting facts that cannot be changed. It’s a challenge, but we like challenges.
ZM: It is certainly a little easier to arrange a new space, but we do redesign often.
The pandemic brought several changes in the working environment, the most significant being the benefits of working from home. Under the influence of similar changes, does it feel that the client’s requirements have changed after the pandemic?
AM: The pandemic has brought a change in the approach of both clients and manufacturers of office furniture. After COVID-19, we saw considerable changes in the flexibility of office furniture on the part of manufacturers. Mobile meeting booths, removable screens, and other multifunctional elements were a huge trend. The pandemic brought overlapping of residential and office space. Last but not least, companies have become aware of the need for the sustainability of resources and the need for recycling. Today, companies demand the declaration of product recycling and certification of production on resource sustainability. Our company holds a green certificate PCEF, ISO 45001. We have already completed the interior under the BREEAM excellent certification.
ZM: We have registered a different approach to the equipment of their households on the part of our clients. Lockdown has brought a great willingness to invest in the interior. People started spending a lot of time at home and in the garden. This is not just about a device for a small home office. It concerns the overall understanding that we spend time at home, and the interior is to serve us well, to be comfortable and functional.
How do you design and implement custom-made furniture? Is it more difficult to create atypical furniture?
AM: At the beginning, there is a conversation with the clients about their ideas, needs, and the amount of the investment. We create interiors by combining standardized elements from our manufacturers with furniture that is tailored to the client.
ZM: Designing is a creative process tailored to a given client. Therefore, we need to meet and talk with them to get as close as possible to their idea of what the interior should look like. The ideal interior is a combination of classic and atypical furniture. For us, it is very important that, in addition to the aesthetic aspect, the atypical furniture is designed to be durable and functional.
Text: Miriama Vojteková, photo: EKOMA