In this competitive multi-family environment, it’s imperative now more than ever that developers and architects involve an interior design team. I have noticed over the years, that the interiors firm is frequently one of the last critical consultant engaged. Hiring the interior design team at the right time is not just a question of aesthetics, it’s also about the bottom line.
It’s understandable that interior design might not be top of mind for developers in the early planning stages of a new construction multi-family and mixed-use community, as there’s already so much to accomplish in this critical period.
However, many developers now recognize that well-designed public spaces play a leading role in the initial rental pace as well as future retention, because their interiors form the all-important first impression for prospective renters and make them feel at home as they live there over time. Statistics tell us that thoughtful and well-designed amenities will outpace those with mediocre interiors. According to the Newmark Knight Frank White Paper, more amenities can lead to stronger project performance, but projects that are well-designed along with more amenities lead to an even stronger performance and lease-up pace.
My experience tells me that when interior designers join the team early, and all the parties are involved in the initial concepts and branding, the process and end result is more successful and cost saving. If we’re in from the beginning on a new-construction project, we can help to avoid unnecessary redesign and provide critical coordination with all consultants.
The ideal time to engage the interior design team for a new construction development is before the city approves the final building exterior and while the architect is in early schematic phase.
At this point in the project, relocation, expansion and/or reconfiguring of amenities can be easily be accomplished. Fenestration and building entries can be reconsidered to work better with the interior spaces; ceiling heights can be raised and structure adjusted to allow for more impactful volume and better space usage; and the team can collaborate most effectively on how best to connect the interior to the architecture.
If the interiors team hired late in the process (especially after the city has approved the exterior), we often hear groans in the room as it becomes clear that improved interior spaces will require a change to the outside of the building and thus another round of city approvals. Consider the cost of the redesign and the time lost that could have been avoided by hiring the design team early on.
Residents are willing to pay higher rents if it means living in a resort-style setting, according to Multifamily Executive: “A great way to start meeting the expectations of today’s resident is to place the resident at the center of your business model,” its report says. “One of the most effective ways to appeal to residents is through thoughtful interior design.”
There is a process to interior design and interior architecture that is similar to the architectural phases of design. While the interiors team has a different scope, the phases required are the same. Most consultants have experienced unrealistic deadlines. When this occurs, the team will always strive hard to deliver on time. However, a more successful project with fewer revisions will come from thoughtful, planned design and a coordinated process.
HDG joined the team while the plans for this new apartment building were still in the early schematic phase. As a result, all consultants worked closely to assure that the building was coordinated from the outside in and the inside out.
For example, the HDG team had the opportunity to provide input on the exterior brick selection, which was so handsome that the team chose to wrap this metallic, textured brick into the lobby as well as other connecting amenity spaces. Further accentuating the indoor-outdoor connection, the team worked closely to design a river rock trough that boarders the entry of the building both from the exterior and the interior.
Because the building had not gone through final approval, the fenestration was collaboratively designed to seamlessly support the interior. Anchoring seating areas both inside the lobby and outside on the terrace, a two-sided fireplace was located on an exterior wall. Having the opportunity to closely coordinate structure, MEP design and optimal ceiling heights made all the difference in the design of this highly successful project.
By contrast, the HDG team is usually the first to come in when a multifamily project involves the renovation of an older building. We drive the design, the space plan and work with the owner’s team to determine the budget, branding and the best design approach. A cohesive team is important. Once the conceptual design is complete it is time to engage all necessary consultants, which might include an architect of record, MEP and structural engineers, and a landscape architect.
HDG led the design for a substantial lobby-and amenities renovation that involved the complete re-positioning of this 1990s-era apartment building. In addition to creating a high-end boutique design that would shine in Crystal City’s competitive marketplace, the goal was to open up all amenity spaces for a visual connection with the outdoor terraces, to provide for service amenities such as package lockers, an expanded package room, a concierge desk with views to the entry, a pet spa and a complete redesign of all social amenities and public spaces.
At the completion of conceptual design, the architect of record, landscape architect, MEP and structural engineers joined the team. Forming the team at this phase allowed for the most efficient use of the consultant’s time as they had a basis of design from which to begin their work. A cohesive and collaborative team, together, completed the highly successful repositioning of The Instrata Pentagon City.
Whether new construction or renovation, interior designers who think holistically about a building add more value to a project the earlier they are involved.
Phyllis Hartman is Founder and President of Hartman Design Group.
POSTED ON JULY 20, 2018
Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP
Many industries mark the beginning of each year with trends and predictions for the months ahead. The design industry is no exception, as many manufacturers and press outlets report on new looks coming to the fore. And while we can’t be slavish to fads, these updates are always a useful reference as we contemplate our own design selections moving into 2018. Upon reviewing many of these reports, it’s notable to see how many of our choices, based on client requests, are in line with industry patterns. Here are five trends that stand out:
An obvious place to start, now that the major paint companies have declared their “official” colors for 2018. This year’s paint colors, for the most part, are dramatic and deeply saturated: Pantone named Ultra Violet, while Benjamin Moore identified Caliente—a rich, lipstick red—and Sherwin Williams announced Oceanside, a vivid teal. Glidden and Olympic, meanwhile, declared their own shades of black—Deep Onyx and Black Magic—as the year’s official hues. Our designers have been turning to black as a neutral for several years, but what’s new is that the deep, jewel-tone shades that have emerged this year have a black base to them. That’s what gives them their moody feel—a palette that House Beautiful magazine identified for 2018. Those tones make wonderful complements to the cognac hues we’ve been gravitating toward in our work. “It’s in the bronze family with a touch of orange and a little bit of red,” Hartman Design Group founder Phyllis Hartman says. Its rich, earthy tone looks gorgeous in textiles, leather, porcelain and ceramics. Even better, the deep, black-based teals, blues and greens are a powerful complement to this cognac/terra cotta color; they come alive against each other where one draws out the richness in the other. Houzz.com contributor Jennifer Ott confirmed this point in the home-design website’s 2018 trend report: “Warm grays with rich, earthy shades will edge out cooler neutrals for a more sumptuous look,” she says. “I’m seeing a move toward warm grays and rich, earthy shades of camel, rust, tobacco and brown-blacks.”
Along with these deep colors, we’re seeing a return to pattern mixing. Layering pattern on pattern has to be done judiciously, of course, but we see the trend becoming popular among Millennials who want to create their own identity with energy and a sense of individual style. We are finding that this age group responds to design styles that are warm, inviting and homey. This gesture is exactly in line with recent trend reports out from houzz.com and Dering Hall, both of which note increased appetites for eclectic design and the mixing of metals, texture and sheen. House Beautiful noted the comeback of bold, floral patterns in particular. “I love the resurgence on the feminine side of the big, beautiful florals,” Nancy Fire, creative director of HGTV Home, told the magazine. “It’s coming from a boho trend that’s more casual.” Along those lines, our clients are requesting fabrics and furnishings that exude comfort. Velvet, for example, used to be considered very formal, but when mixed in with wood accents like reclaimed lumber, the mood becomes much more inviting—not to mention that velvet is the perfect vehicle for these dark, striking colors that are so popular now. House Beautiful singled out velvet as its own trend, in fact, in its recent report. We’re also choosing plush furniture designs—nothing too precious—that invite condo and apartment residents to see their buildings’ public spaces as extensions of their own living area. We look for materials that embrace the person sitting on them; their tactile feel needs to create a sense of sanctuary. In its decorating report for 2018, Country Living magazine noted that shapely furniture—full of curves, no hard edges—is the thing to look for this year. Even CB2, known for its minimalist furnishings, is coming out this spring with furnishings that have more rounded silhouettes, the report said. Dering Hall also emphasized soft edges in furniture, which are so much more inviting than hard angles.
No, we’re not contradicting ourselves from above. Streamlined profiles and neutral color palettes are classic companions—they don’t come and go like pattern and color tend to do, particularly with Scandinavian elements such as modern frames with warm wood finishes. These settings are perennially relaxing, offering up space to escape the craziness of the world, both politically and technologically. Our requirement for this look, however, is that the interiors must be comprised of authentic materials. Because there is so little color, the design must assert itself through the texture of wood, iron, porcelain and natural textiles. Harper’s Bazaar produced a 2018 report focused entirely on emerging Scandinavian design elements, such as folding-style leather-backed wooden chairs and wood-slatted walls, which demonstrate how natural elements define an interior, rather than color or pattern. In this type of setting, anything synthetic would, quite literally, cheapen the look.
It’s one thing to have a well-appointed lobby with areas branching off for impromptu gatherings or quiet pursuits. But many of the new developments we’re working on include coffee shops, wine bars—even an entrance to Whole Foods—in that lobby mix. It’s living in such a way that you’re surrounded by activity and people, yet there are still places where one can be “alone” in the middle of the fray. In our business, that’s called an “activated space,” which sparks engagement and sociability. As designers, it’s our job to make all these functions aesthetically pleasing, with a seamless flow between communal work space, areas that are slightly more private, and open social space that lies just outside the retailers’ doors. Those priorities steer the design in a much more casual direction, focusing on life experience rather than pure aesthetics—a quality that’s echoed in nearly every residential interiors report this year.
Clients are becoming ever more sensitive to environmentally friendly materials in their buildings’ architecture and interior design. Country Living, Dering Hall and House Beautiful all pointed to natural accents such as wood, stone, and brick as a big design driver this year. Our Design Director, Anny Falgas states, “The use of natural finishes engages people with their environment and reiterates the desire to respect and connect with nature. It’s our own way of honoring nature through the means of design.” That trend continues to grow, so our default in selecting textiles, furnishings and other design elements is always to make choices that are sustainable, from FSC-certified and reclaimed woods to organic fabrics and recycled materials.
Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP
POSTED ON JANUARY 29, 2018
Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP
How does it feel to walk into a home with blank walls? Maybe it feels like the owner is there only temporarily—or that he or she just moved in. Either way, there’s a sense that something’s incomplete, or worse, that something’s just plain wrong. Such is the power of art in our lives: It defines and grounds us; it can lift our spirits and sense of wonder; it can make us smile; it can challenge, surprise and entertain.
Just as we’re rewarded with sweeping views once we reach the top of a mountain, art provides an interior vista as we walk in the door or turn the corner into a new space. From a design perspective, it can be the focal point from which a room’s palette and style emerges. On a more personal level, an art collection transforms that room into your own sanctuary.
The same idea extends to public spaces, particularly in condo and apartment buildings. At a time when the cost of construction is rising, developers are building smaller units with larger public areas to get the biggest return on their investment. This trend puts the onus on us as interior architects and designers to conceive public space that can double as an extension of one’s home.
The question then becomes: Where do you start? When project begins, it’s rare that an individual or team of people will express their personal tastes and preferences for art style or genre. At times, of course, the building owner might have a personal collection he or she wants to display, and that collection becomes the design driver. But most often, we start from scratch in determining how to beautify communal space that includes lobbies, lounges, meeting and recreational rooms, chef’s kitchens and eating areas—even pet spas and outdoor “rooms.”
That’s when we as designers look to a building’s location for direction. Whenever we can, we like to bring in local artists whose works tell a story about the community. Is it an area like Georgetown, DC, with a deep sense of history? Or maybe Hyattsville, Maryland, which has a thriving art scene? Perhaps it’s a central urban environment with a grittier vibe, or a big sports town? There are all sorts of ways to bring in that local flavor.
At The Signature in Reston, Virginia, for example, we reached out to artist Susan Main, the curator and director of galleries and exhibition programming at VisArts in Rockville, Maryland. We admired the swirling, whimsical lines in her work—just the kind of thing you’d want in a commissioned piece focused on signatures. We’ve asked her to create a large encaustic work representing 25 autographs of famous people who hail from Northern Virginia—from historical figures such as Booker T. Washington and Thomas Jefferson to contemporary standouts like basketball veteran Grant Hill and comedian Wanda Sykes.
There’s a different narrative in the Crystal City section of Arlington, VA, where The Bartlett—Arlington’s tallest apartment building—enjoys sweeping, uninterrupted views across the Potomac River to Washington’s monuments. We brought that vista inside with commissioned photography of iconic DC images, while we asked acclaimed DC artist Maggie O’Neill to create oils that reinterpret Washington’s symbols—the Capitol building; Uncle Sam; the Washington Monument—with wild splashes of color. The whimsy continues with a huge wall graphic that portrays midcentury-style dollhouses, and look closely in the lobby: The abstract painting that anchors the lobby’s focal wall hides a Bartlett pear etched into the oil.
While location always has a large impact on the art curation of these multi-family residences, the building itself can wield influence as well. We are currently working on Stonehall, a small luxury condo project in Bethesda that channels the charming European boutique hotels where centuries-old architecture plays into the design. Here, we’re combining architectural details with art to create a mood of quiet, urbane elegance. Every elevator lobby will feature beautifully framed, old maps of a great city—Paris, Madrid, Washington, Chicago, New York and Amsterdam are a few—to identify that floor. Each design project is special in its own way, and choosing art as the finishing touch is always a favorite endeavor—both for the developers who’ve hired us and for our entire staff as well. The energy palpably rises when discussion turns to art, and trips to galleries both locally and around the country inspire the most passion amidst the countless other furnishing, fabric and finish selections we’re making throughout a building’s public amenities.
Empty walls and spaces devoid of hand-made objects can be unsettling—like opening a book to find only blank pages, with no story to tell. As the interior designers of large buildings that are home to hundreds of residents, we take our mission seriously—and joyfully—in creating environments through curated art that make you feel properly at home the moment you step through the lobby door.
Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP
POSTED ON OCTOBER 27, 2017
The Icon Residences at The Rotunda Apartments, developed by Hekemian and Co., is located in Baltimore’s historic Hampden neighborhood. With deep roots in the manufacturing and industrial past of Baltimore, the community is now known as one of the city’s most vibrant places to live. Quaint, artistic and multi-cultural, the neighborhood became the inspiration for the HDG’s design team. The result is a combination of sophisticated and bohemian style design that uniquely defines the Icon Residences.
CURATING PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE ICON AT THE ROTUNDA
The HDG designers chose photography from Baltimore’s own Kevin Moore to showcase the energy of the neighborhood by featuring moments from Hampden’s iconic summer festival, HonFest. “Hon”, short for honey, refers to the term of endearment that has come to identify vintage Baltimore. The photos bring a smile to all by featuring this neighborhood masquerade, when people of all ages dress up in every exaggerated style from the 50’s and 60’s – large beehive hair, cat eye glasses, poodle skirts and allot of sass. Our designers chose black and white photos and added a playful spin by coloring just one element in each photo.
Kevin has more than 30 years of professional experience. He has won several national competitions for his nature, urban and people photography. His images have been featured in many publications and media, including The Boston Review, SI.com (Sports Illustrated,) Bethesda Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, AAA World, Delaware Beach Life, Backpacker, Bicycling, Gawker, Maryland Public Television, and the Colbert Report. Kevin has photos in collections at the National Institutes of Health, Smithsonian Institution, Adventist HealthCare System, CoreSource, and Lockheed Martin.
POSTED ON MAY 8, 2017
WHAT IS REVIT?
Before we get into the benefits and challenges of this powerful application – let’s define it. Autodesk Revit is Building Information Modeling software for architects, structural engineers, MEP engineers, and contractors. It allows users to design a building and its components in 3D, annotate the model with 2D drafting elements and access building information from the model’s database. Revit is 4D BIM capable with tools to plan and track various stages in the building’s life cycle, from concept to construction and later demolition. (credit)
HDG’S EXPERIENCE WITH REVIT:
Embracing the world of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been an illuminating experience for those of us at HDG. Our early adoption in 2009 and our commitment to BIM is beginning to bring great benefits to our firm and most importantly, to our Clients.
One of the main reasons why we believe in Revit is that it challenges the traditional work flows in Interior Design by demonstrating enhanced design and coordination throughout all phases of the project. When using Revit software, building components such as plans, sections, and elevations are intelligently connected to each other. We appreciate this because it reduces repetition of tasks and facilitates a synchronized set of documents.
The process has had some challenges. Because Interior Design Revit components are not as abundant as architectural components, implementing custom libraries and templates has been more time intensive than initially imagined. Other challenges have included longer learning curves and higher upfront costs.
MORE INFORMED DESIGN: As interior designers, we are very excited about designing in an updated 3 dimensional approach. Using the architect’s model, our design team can virtually walk through a building at the start of a project (prior to beginning design). This feature allows viewing of the building structure, the volume, the window penetrations…and the challenges. The 3D visual of the interior spaces informs design in a way not possible with traditional 2D drafting software such as AutoCAD.
BETTER DOCUMENT COORDINATION: Revit provides our clients with the coordination benefits that are lacking in a 2D program. When all consultants are Revit based, the team is working essentially on the same model. The software alerts each consultant graphically to conflicts, providing consultants with information that prompts coordination. This does not mean perfection. After all, humans are inputting the information. However; we believe that it will improve the process and provide a better end result for the Owner.
JOB COSTING: Once the contractor adopts Revit, construction budgets become automated and thus faster and more accurate. BIM based software allows for automated takeoffs of material including flooring, ceilings, walls…even entire rooms. Instead of 2D line based drawings, the takeoffs, counts, and measurements can be generated directly from the integral model.
*The Owner will not fully benefit from the program unless all consultants are using Revit based software. *Software development needs to catch up with all disciplines including, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture. *The learning curve can be long *Substantial upfront investment – software, hardware, and training
POSTED ON APRIL 25, 2013