29 August 2017
Enhancing your brainpower on the job is now a reality: a recent US Universities’ study found that air quality and reduced chemicals exposure in the office space has a profound impact on productivity.
Energy-efficient and green buildings enhance indoor environment quality by maximising use of natural resources like sunlight and fresh air through careful office design. The study* found that modest improvements in ventilation, and reductions in exposure to chemicals and CO2, effected big changes - cognitive performance scores of participants in the ‘green+’ office were double those of subjects in the conventional office.

Our Top 3 tips for cleaner, greener offices:
1.      Seeing clearly
Reduce the amount of incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs: replacing these with LEDs or natural light is a great start to minimising chemical exposure in the work space.  Daylight increases productivity, and exposure to sunlight helps office workers sleep better at night, so make the most of this natural resource by positioning desks close to windows. As an added bonus, views of the natural environment have been proven to help with concentration, while providing a calming visual input.
2.      Deep breathing
Passive ventilation systems rely on exterior building design and opening of windows to provide fresh indoor air; mechanical systems utilise power, and carefully planned ducts to create through-flow of air. Office efficiency studies allow better positioning of your human resources to avoid areas prone to stagnant air, and can help pinpoint areas which could use a breath of (natural or automated) fresh air.
3.      Climate change
Too hot or cold, and productivity can fall by the wayside. Blinds made from environmentally-friendly materials, external louvres, and indoor plants are three eco-wise methods to beat heat in summer or welcome in some winter warmth while scrubbing CO2 from the indoor office.
As a Green Building Council SA certified team, Shimwell Designs can provide expert office environment analysis, and help you in designing a healthier, happier workplace. 
12 October 2017
Space planning is the core and starting point of any interior design, and is the allocating and dividing of the interior space to meet the identified requirements of businesses and homeowners.

Efficient use of space is a not only a cornerstone of good commercial interior design, it’s a cost-saving necessity in today’s office rental market as well-organised use of the office’s footprint saves companies thousands of Rands monthly.

Companies evolve over time, with an ebb and flow of employees (as well as departments) affecting the productive use of the floor area. New additions tend to be “tacked on” wherever a free desk exists, but this often comes at the cost of optimal operations.
Skilled interior design looks to the core daily operations and needs of an office, and structures the space to deliver healthy and efficient workplaces. Taking the latest information technology into consideration is key to creating contemporary spaces that add to business capacity and capabilities.  

Space trends driving today’s workspaces:
1.       The staggering growth in communications and operations mobility is shifting the traditional office environment: cubicles, offices within the greater office, and even     dedicated desks are all falling away as today’s employee can often execute their job just as effectively outside of the office.
2.       “Hoteling” or renting a desk/space for only the time and duration needed is becoming a norm, as is increasing access to integrated technologies within the             workspace: think WiFi and ample power outlets for quick connections and multi-media capability.
3.       Flexible layouts and future-proof design ensures that office spaces can shift to suit whatever the task at hand may be, with spaces that lend themselves to multi-   functional, on-the-go-collaboration being ideal.
4.       The well-being focus includes bringing outdoors inside: plants and natural areas create oases of calm and double up as space dividers, in addition to releasing     much-needed oxygen into the office interior.

Shimwell Designs are experienced at reconfiguring layouts within the office space to meet any spatial requirements. Our green leanings mean we reuse existing furniture as far as possible, in addition to seamlessly integrating existing pieces with new acquisitions.
Our technical qualifications include interior architecture, project management, and quantity surveying to deliver accurate cost-estimates and execution of design that makes best use of the office space. 
25 June 2018
We spend much of our lives inside in artificially lit environments, and the lightbulb has proven an invaluable to our work and home productivity.
Light also has a significant influence on our mood and wellbeing, and is one of the strongest signals affecting our daily sleep/wake cycle. Responsive interior design uses new and traditional technologies to create functional, well-lit residential and commercial spaces that effect the least disruption to biorhythms, and provide boosts to mood and productivity.

Here’s how Shimwell Designs uses light in commercial and residential interiors:

1. LED (or Light Emitting Diode) technology: LED bulbs’ eco-friendly, low replacement rate makes placing light sources in hard-to-reach areas viable, which opens up interior spaces for all sorts of uses. As LED light is directional, it’s ideal for designing spaces to fit function, and myriad colour and brightness options allow us to fine-tune lighting to conform to a space’s functions over the course of the day: task-oriented, functional areas can be brightly spot-lit; softer ambient lighting can be used in more general areas. Cooler light is brighter, and daytime lightbulbs that emulate a blue sky at noon are widely used in commercial or workspace interiors to facilitate task execution and stimulate alertness. (Residential bathrooms and kitchens are often brightly lit for the same reasons.)

2. Circadian Rhythm Lighting is a technology that mimics the quality and quantity of sunlight, and has especial value for people in buildings with little or no natural light. Circadian Rhythm is regulated by the hormone melatonin: light exposure supresses the hormone to keep us awake, while darkness signals us to produce melatonin to cause drowsiness. A free “circadian stimulus” calculator has been developed for interior designers to specify the right light sources and levels for commercial buildings, helping to strike the balance between productivity and mood and wellbeing.

3.  Utilising colour, intensity, and placement of lighting alters home and work spaces to fit different functions, for example: using light to create shadows adds interest and depth, and helps reduce monotony; or using light as an accent designates specific areas within a space for a particular purpose. We also design around reflected light to ensure that the “bounce” off shiny surfaces is in balance with the space’s use and its ambient light, and that glare is kept to a minimum to avoid fatiguing a room’s users.

4. Using skylights, windows, and interior/exterior landscaping to let in the light: South Africa is blessed with an abundance of sunshine, and allowing natural light in (together with careful using of plants inside and out as filters to reduce glare) is an efficient and sustainable way to illuminate the interior.

Lighting can be one of the most important influencers of wellbeing in the home and work spaces, and today’s technologies and products allow for more than just illuminating a room: skilled interior designers can engineer light to provide positive dimensions in work and home spaces that enhance health and happiness.

Global movements towards scaling down our consumption , space efficiency and eliminating clutter.
08 November 2017
Global movements towards scaling down our consumption of resources and the blurring of home/work boundaries, means making mindful using of a home’s inside and outside spaces is more than just a trend. And consciously shifting the response to the home environment into the area of awareness puts multi-functional furniture front and centre in achieving the balance between using space efficiently and eliminating clutter, and even distributing design resources.

Here are some of Shimwell Designs’ favourite contemporary ideas for making the effective and aesthetic most of home spaces.  

1.       Bed bases with drawers: these are an exceptionally worthwhile investment, providing from much-needed under bed storage for linens, books, or keepsakes, through to providing additional bed(s) and even sleeping spots for cherished pets.  Simply closing the drawers instantly neatens, tidies, and creates room to move.

2.       Ottomans: traditionally upholstered living-area footstools or seats, new-generation fabrics and finishings have enabled functions that include additional storage, creating a serving space, and becoming a side table.

3.       Nestle tables are a fantastically functional investment, adding instant table tops and work-surface area to living, bedroom, outdoor and even bathroom spaces. Designed to disappear, they stack away to a fraction of their size, with this form also highly usable as sturdy seating.

4.Furniture morphing into adaptable shapes: chairs becoming tables; tables and seating slotting neatly into wall units and bookshelves; coffee tables housing hidden drawers, and wall-mounted, foldaway beds doubling up as daytime desk-space. Traditional sofas and seats are also doing their duty, with designs including side and underside drawers, shelves, and cleverly hidden storage nooks.

5.Crates, trunks, and chests have moved into lounges, housing throws, remote- and console controllers, as well as books and magazines, to declutter living spaces and create additional table space.
Thoughtful interior design and multi-functional furniture can add tremendous value to small spaces; with carefully chosen pieces filling the home space without crowding rooms and their residents. As space-planning and –efficiency experts, Shimwell Designs are a great partner to guide and assist in using your home’s footprint to its best advantage. 
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