A SitOnIt Seating Interview with Designer Laura Arledge
September 03, 2014
Laura Arledge, LEED AP, Lead Interior Designer
Blue Ocean Enterprises, Inc.
Is there a certain philosophy/approach you take to design?
Design is an absolute passion. It’s not a job; it’s a way of life. I try to stay up on trends – basically live design. I believe that during the conceptual part, the brainstorming, you should go as far-fetched and crazy as possible; then bring it in. You pare it down from there.
I like to think of who the client is. Every part of design is meaningful; everything has a purpose. So you have to think of the client in a deep and meaningful way and build off the client.
And it’s easy to do what’s expected. But we like to talk a lot, ask the client a lot of questions. And I think that makes us different. Communication is big. And that’s the only way to execute a 55,000sf building with four different designers. We stay cohesive through communication – communication among ourselves and with the client.
How did you get into design?
As a kid I loved fine art, but excelled in math and science. So I was a left brain/right brain kid. I am detailed and analytical and also creative and open minded.
Once I started studying design and saw more how it worked, I realized how detailed it is. But everything you do has an impact on moods and daily lives. It has proven to be much more meaningful than I ever expected.
How do you balance the ideal and the practical in your design? Does SOI or IDEON help with this?
Yes, they do! A chair is one of the most impactful parts of office design since you are often using it for long periods of time. And, for example, Sona and Focus strike a balance between the aesthetic and the practical. They have ergonomics and flex, and a lot of different features. But they also have an attractive, timeless aesthetic.
What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Time! Also, constantly pushing ourselves – and this our department’s mission – to come up with something new and innovative for each project. Also, balancing ideas and practicality.
Our company really encourages a cutting-edge thought process. They expect latest and greatest.
We also are challenged by the variety of building types and ages on the campus. The facilities range from Victorian houses-turned-offices, to over-hauled 1970s office buildings. It’s not your typical office park. We strive for brand cohesiveness, but the challenge is to constantly improve and evolve the design and look of our client’s campus, and do so among such a variety of building types.
Was there a defining moment in your career and how did that affect you as a designer?
A lot of moments are defining moments – every time you pour your heart into a project! Seeing a project come to fruition. To get into the details, then go along the path and seeing the tangible results of hard work – see it come to life – that’s rejuvenating for me. We get to see people use space and see the client happy. That’s where we learn lessons.
We just won our first award, the ASID Colorado Chapter Crystal Award for Best Commercial Space over 20,000 Square ft. It was our first big project as a department so it meant that much more!
What inspires you in your design?
Trying to get into other people’s brains. Seeing what makes the client tick. Seeing what inspires others. And then doing that through their environment. Making them happy and productive. That’s what inspires me.