amplify

A Diary of Workplace Thought Leadership

Our approach to workplace interiors is informed, inspired, anchored in what people and organizations need most. These design resources capture where we are today.

SPARKLE

What lights us up.

We find inspiration everywhere—lifestyle trends, art, other people’s products, design culture, and design thinking.


Celebrating Earth Day

April 22, 2021

Materials that make an impact

Our Workplace Design Team is highlighting our integration of salvaged products and materials to celebrate Earth Day! We intentionally source and specify materials made with recycled content and naturally renewable resources in our projects. Beyond these materials there’s an abundant opportunity for reusing products that have already been manufactured, this keeps new items out of the landfill and is less energy-intensive than reforming old into new.

Salvaged goods are not always an obvious choice. A client, in financial services, was consolidating their office space in Seattle, which meant they had a lot of surplus furniture in great condition. The design team took inventory of the existing furniture and strategically incorporated over 140 pieces of furniture throughout multiple floors of the office space. This included conference chairs, task chairs, lounge furniture, and break room furniture. All of the unused furniture was donated to Green Standards to be resold or recycled. This project achieved its LEED certification in 2019!

Incorporating salvaged or unconventional materials in tenant improvement projects with fast schedules and tight budgets is the challenge we are looking for! For a project with Los Angeles Sanitation, we brought the concept of recycling into the design. Our designer researched recycled materials and discovered an artist who uses metal cans to create artwork. To exhibit this artwork, the designer, in collaboration with a casework fabricator, created a decorative panel to be installed into the face of the reception desk. A quote from the artist was included in the bid documents to make pricing by the contractor a breeze. Thoughtful planning and smart design allowed us to seamlessly incorporate a design element that reflected the client’s values. This was a success for all.

At 38 Davis, our firm’s office in Portland, we concepted our design to reflect our values. Sustainability and environmental stewardship are at our core. This is demonstrated by incorporating salvaged wood, from Pioneer Millworks. The salvaged wood material was applied in multiple locations – from ceiling clouds and wall cladding in the conference rooms to rolling benches and booth seating backs in our entry area. The selected wood contrasts the mass-timber construction, while maintaining the warmth and texture only wood can bring. The final project achieved LEED v4 Gold.

AM Design Week 2020

September 23, 2020

In conjunction with Seattle Design Festival: About Time.

For Seattle Design Festival’s 10th anniversary in August, 2020, our Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco offices celebrated Design Week virtually. Over five days, we explored what drew us to design, the realties of this present time, and the many ways our neighborhoods and cities are changing. We shared over 400 photos, 500 posts, and 1,829 emojis. At time when connecting with people isn’t easy, Design Week gave us a chance to see the world through each other’s eyes.

Here’s a tiny sample of what we shared.

 

FUTURECAST

Insights based in real-world research.

Discover our research-supported innovations through case studies, code updates, market reports, white papers, and more.


July 2, 2021

As designers, we are redefining what sustainability means by placing the human experience at the center of design solutions. In order to fully address the diversity of the human experience, equity and inclusion must be the foundation of sustainable design to create holistic communities and transformative workplaces. A truly sustainable workplace is built to anticipate and meet human needs, fostering a collegial and welcoming environment for all, where people can focus and think as easily as they can collaborate, learn, and grow. At its core, sustainable design is empathic, equitable, and human-centered.

What does this mean from a design perspective? Small design decisions say a lot, from minor adjustments to accommodate all body types and abilities, to the inclusion of private spaces for health and wellness activities. We view spaces through the eyes of all people who will inhabit and interact with them, incorporating the best practices of universal design.

We are committed to educating and challenging ourselves to actively design for social equity. As part of this commitment, we have signed the Call-to-Action Pledge with NOMA NW to advocate for equity and diversity within our profession. We have also partnered with The Diversity Movement  to help us build & strengthen our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy and insure it is woven into the fabric of our work. Truly sustainable design cannot be achieved unless it begins with a human centered approach that prioritizes equitable opportunities for all. 


June 30, 2021

Before the pandemic, it was common for businesses and office workers to have an insulated experience within the community in which they worked. There was a binary relationship between work and home. Your real community was where you lived. Your work community barely registered beyond the front door of your office. When offices emptied out last March, leaving central business districts empty and local retail and restaurants on life support, the limitations and, frankly, harm, of this or compartmentalization was suddenly brought to light.   

 

Resilient communities are predicated on a collaborative relationship between businesses, workers, retail, and civic groups. Now, as workers slowly trickle back to the office, we must use this opportunity to re-imagine a more collaborative relationship between workers, businesses, and government within the blocks, cities, and districts in which they call home. Workplaces and their surrounding communities need to be agile, resilient, and inclusive in order to thrive in the future. To get there, employers and community leaders must recognize the interdependence of workplaces and their communities. As workplace designers, we strengthen communities when our design solutions are informed by the symbiotic relationship between workplaces, retail, services, and housing.    

So, what are we doing today to address this? We are actively engaged with our workplace clients to elevate the discussion around their, as well as our own, engagement with the surrounding community. Public-private partnerships, together with design solutions that promote inclusivity, can enhance the quality of life, improve safety, and create equitable opportunities that are critical in building resilient communities.  


June 28, 2021

What is the responsibility of an organization or building owner toward the larger community in which they inhabit? Studies show that the long-term implications of the work-from-home trend could have an unintended adverse impact on downtown business districts, commercial real estate, and local businesses. The situation demands new and innovative thinking to ensure our cities remain vibrant.

 

We believe that in order to rebuild and restore connection and engagement between workplaces and the surrounding community, employers and community leaders need to form partnerships rooted in shared values and civic pride. Workplaces can play a critical role in the vibrancy of our communities and must rise to the challenge of being a strategic partner with local jurisdictions and community organizations.

 

What is the role of design in all of this? The answer lies in connectivity. Our design solutions encourage connection between the building and the surrounding neighborhood. For example, active and engaging ground floors that provide space for community programming, wellness services, or experiential retail environments serve as vibrant and vital assets that benefit the broader community. By engaging multiple and diverse stakeholders, including the local community as co-creators in their design solutions, designers and their clients play a major role in the revitalization of urban centers.

 

To learn more about how you can get involved and flex your civic pride, check out the advocacy work of the Downtown Portland Clean and Safe, the Seattle Downtown Business Association, and the Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts.


June 25, 2021

What will it take to revive central business districts across the US? What role will your workplace play in this recovery?  What makes a community resilient, balanced, and livable and what role do workplaces play in this equation? What would it look like if your office was more integrated into the community?

 

As the pandemic loosens its grip and businesses prepare to return to the office, we believe there is an opportunity for workplaces to imagine a better future and play a larger role in reviving and restoring our communities. We surveyed industry partners, urban planners, end users, and market experts to get their take on the trends and opportunities they see for a revitalized urban core.

 

Based on our research, the notions of civic pride, symbiotic communities, and human centered design are fundamental to re-imaging the relationship between workplaces and their surrounding communities. Over the next few days, we will explore each of these principles and unpack what they mean for workplace design.


re-connect

October 27, 2020

Embracing a Changing Workplace

What is the purpose of the office now? And in the future? To answer these questions, we surveyed nearly 400 people from various industries and across different generations. We analyzed the data and the many thoughtful write-in responses and discovered four distinct themes.

Download re-connect now.


re-set

September 21, 2020

Resiliency in the Workplace

We surveyed 300+ people about returning to the office, and their responses were loud and clear. A holistic, employee-centered approach is essential to any reentry strategy. Following our survey findings, we’ve developed three design insights that can ensure a healthy future for the workplace: Invest in wellbeing. Redefine connection. Fortify trust.

Download re-set now.


re-imagine

September 21, 2020

Adapting Today

Our own reentry strategy for 38 Davis, Ankrom Moisan's Portland headquarters, puts our design insights into practice. Discover how we redesigned for entering our workplace, using restrooms and gym amenities, and managing the building.

Download re-imagine now.


re-entry

September 21, 2020

Adapting Together

Ankrom Moisan has spent decades designing healthy, empowering workplaces. Working quickly and cost-effectively, we design and implement strategies that help people feel safe about reentering the workplace during uncertain times—and help our clients safely transition to their new workplace reality.

Download re-entry now.


re-new

September 21, 2020

Post-Pandemic Design Solutions

Our wellness solutions are realistic and evidence-based. By investigating how the coronavirus affects workplace design, setting clear outcomes, analyzing conditions, and matching our recommendations to your situation, we design workplace wellness strategies that align with your company's culture—and that can succeed.

Download re-new now.

COLLABORATORY

The way we roll.

Our alchemy is collaborative design, expressed through behind-the-scenes processes and shared knowledge.


The New Suburban Office

October 8, 2020

Wellness with a Competitive Edge

Natural ventilation and access to fresh air are priorities for post-pandemic office spaces. With people’s growing interest in shorter commutes, suburban office parks are becoming more popular.

Our latest non-urban office design reimagines a typical campus, including amenities with metropolitan flair that blur the lines between indoor and outdoor lounge spaces. This facility updates an indoor cantina break area with a lounge and gaming table, opening to an exterior space via a dramatic, overhead pivoting glass door.

Outside are a tiered seating area called “The Skybox,” private seating nooks, lounge seating around a fire pit, and a barbecue area. We preserved a mature spruce tree, protecting its roots by a raised boardwalk. Coordinating palettes and eclectic furniture and accessory choices unify the indoor and outdoor spaces. These new amenities address tenants’ post-pandemic concerns and give the owner a unique selling point for the building.

THINK CLUB

The rigor behind the magic.

How we think is who we are. Get to know us here.


Project Materials Spotlight: Studio Building Bike Room Amenity

August 25, 2021

In early 2020, TMT Development contacted Ankrom Moisan Interiors to design several small tenant improvement projects in the Studio Building and the Fox Tower in downtown Portland. The Studio Building at 919 SW Taylor is one of the oldest buildings in the downtown center, built in the 1920s as a musical conservatory. Now housing modern office space, TMT desired to add a bike room amenity to the existing basement, to provide tenants with ample bike storage, two shower rooms, and a bike repair area. 

 

 

Roberta Pennington, the project manager, looped me (Maddy) into this project as the designer, and we went far beyond TMT’s expectations. Inspired by the historical music background of the building, we presented two musically inspired design options: Jazzy & Classical. Ultimately, TMT decided to move forward with the vibrant and energetic Jazzy scheme to bring more life into the existing spooky basement. “Jazzy” pulls inspiration from vintage jazz posters, historic palettes, and art motifs of the 1920s and 1960s jazz eras. 

 

Working within the existing dark, concrete basement, we strove to brighten and enliven the space while creatively guiding employees from the elevators to the bike room down a long hallway. Being a budget-conscious project, we used simple and inexpensive design moves to add major impact and character to the space and keep up with the fast-paced timeline.

 

First, old, unused pipes and conduit were removed from the existing ceilings of the hallways and storage room (which would eventually become the bike storage space). The remaining pipes and structure were then painted with vibrant colors to not only create a beautiful, cohesive aesthetic, but help group what would otherwise be chaotic and overwhelming utilities into a visual whole – the Gestalt effect. Dozens of exposed pipes became a sculptural, colorful ceiling. 

  

The existing concrete floor remained, but was cleaned and repaired as necessary. Keeping an existing painted red stripe on the floor (which led to fire suppression equipment down the hall), we incorporated this into the design as a wayfinding feature by adding a simple yellow stripe on top to connect the spaces (confirming that altering the stripe wasn’t against code). We also added a special custom tile inset signifying the entry to the bike room. Working with the AM Brand team, the design is a play on Oregon’s motto “She Flies with her Own Wings,” becoming Rotae Volat Propriis, or “She Flies with her own Wheels.” While Daltile can manufacture custom mosaic tile layouts onto their mesh backings, this added significant time and cost to the project, which we did not have. Instead, we simplified the tile design and reduced it down to two colors, and ordered whole sheets of black tiles and whole sheets of white tiles. The tile installers only had to swap individual tiles to create the lettering. By having the majority of the layout already adhered to the mesh backing; this saved time and cost in the end for the custom design & install. In the shower rooms, we used a waterproof uncoupling membrane underneath the new tile floor, allowing the tiles to move separately from the building structure and help prevent cracking and damage. The irregular cement tile floor design was inspired by the night sky often seen in jazz posters. 

 

 

The walls in the elevator lobby, hallway and bike room were treated simply and inexpensively with fresh paint. Near the elevators, we created a bike repair wall, featuring decorative wallpaper inspired by simplified Art Deco shapes. We tested the durability of multiple wallpaper materials by scratching samples with our house keys, to ensure the wallpaper would hold up to expected bumps and scratches in the future. We added simple linear light fixtures following a curved arch shape on the wallpaper, visually suggesting sound and expression of excitement. In the hallway, our Brand team riffed off the wallpaper shapes to design custom wall decals to abstractly resemble racing bicyclists. These also act as a wayfinding feature to the bike room. At the bike room entry, a custom-designed Portland biking map is framed and mounted to the wall. The walls and plywood are painted a vibrant red-orange, electrifying the experience. The bike racks and lockers are painted a different shade of red-orange in contrast, resulting in an unexpected explosion of color. Inside the shower rooms, the walls are lined with recycled clay tile from Fireclay Tile, making each of the tiny shower rooms fully waterproof and beautiful. Custom half-moon mirrors add another Art Deco element to the scheme.

 

Overall, the design and finish decisions resulted in a project that was within budget, on time, and made a huge impact on the user experience.

 

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

 


Simplifying the Specification Process

August 11, 2021

Within my design passion comes a desire to learn about how spaces and their materiality affect people mentally, psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally. One of the initiatives toward my career goals is researching and distilling technical material knowledge so it is easily accessible to all designers.

 

I enjoy dissecting the details about products and learning how to properly use materials in my work. I believe having a thorough understanding and awareness of the technical side of specifying finishes and materials is incredibly important to being a great designer. In the spring of 2020, I completed a course called the Healthy Materials Lab through the Parsons School of Design, which opened my eyes to the importance of the specification process as a designer. We have the huge responsibility to design spaces that are healthy for both the occupants and the environment, while also balancing efficiency, budget, and beauty.

 

 

When I first started in the interior design industry in 2015, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information interior designers are expected to learn and acquire over time, and I didn’t want to wait for that to come through my experience on the job. I desired a central resource for information, a “go-to” for all the questions I had about various finishes, to design my projects right the first time. After all, interior designers are jacks-of-all-materials, and with new and innovative products being introduced all the time, it can be difficult to keep up with the knowledge, even with the help of our wonderful product reps.

 

I attempted my version of data collection through lunch-and-learns and personal research, scribbled across multiple notebooks, and documented in digital files, but never succeeded in one place. The peer culture of my design studios in architecture school was extremely positive and supportive, which unfortunately isn’t always the case, never leaving a fellow studio-mate behind to get ahead yourself. I wanted to carry that same outlook into my career by sharing knowledge to help us all improve.

 

In entering the industry, the structure of learning about commercial products consisted of lunch-and-learns, NeoCon, on-the-job experience, and research on your own time. In a time where crowdsourcing information is the norm, the processes of ordering material samples and learning about products were challenging and out of date. I often asked myself: “Hasn’t this question been asked before?” and “Why isn’t this information easier to find?”

 

When Ankrom Moisan moved into our new Portland office in Old Town, our designers had access to a new, state-of-the-art material library run by our dedicated librarian and researcher, Erica Buss. While this was an immense improvement from our situation in the previous office, there was still the missing piece of how to use these materials successfully. When should I use resilient flooring over carpet? What is the difference between these three textile options? How will this countertop perform over this other material? There was crowdsourcing between designers through our office messaging apps, but sometimes you just need a thorough overview of all the important factors in specifying.

 

In January 2021, I was approached by Nicole Schmidt, the CEO of Source, to write blog articles detailing the important aspects to successfully specify various commercial finishes and materials. It felt like this gig was made for me. What I appreciate about the vision of this resource is the articles are meant to be informative, succinct, and easy to read for any level of design experience. I incorporate multiple perspectives by interviewing different manufacturer representatives for each product type, so there is a holistic and comprehensive overview. I ask reps to clarify common misconceptions and mistakes made by designers and recommended solutions, for any sustainable alternatives or aspects to consider, regarding the longevity of a product (and thus keeping it out of the landfill for longer).  I include any lesser-known “tricks of the trade,” such as the Coffee Spill Test coined by fellow AM interior designer Roberta Pennington to test coffee spill visibility on carpet samples. Source has other resources available to designers, such as material cost estimates to assist designers with their project budget constraints, and a central material library with dedicated researchers.

 

Keep your eye out for my next post, where I dive into a few recent projects and the stories behind the finish palettes.

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.


Discovering a Love for Design

August 5, 2021

This is a familiar story for many interior designers. I wanted to be an interior designer since I was in grade school; the signs were there from the beginning. I remember sitting at my dining table, butcher paper sprawled hastily across and sketching cross-sections of the earth. I drew mom and dad above rabbits and groundhogs below. Or, of course, all of my dream homes: the one that sat up in the tree canopies where the light casts shadows of wavering leaves on my bare walls, the one on a lake built around a central outdoor firepit where we laugh and play games together, and the one without permanent external walls, open to the fresh air at all hours of the day.

 

 

Playing with Legos and woodblocks alongside my brothers, I always took a different approach from their spaceships and tanks meant to destroy, and built homes instead, developing thorough storylines of the families that lived there. And, like many other peers from my generation, playing The Sims for hours on end had a large influence on me. Interior Design is an intersection of things I love: people, emotion, art, science, storytelling, psychology, behavior, and the senses.

 

 

I discovered the career of commercial interior design through my high school art teacher, who encouraged me to apply for the accredited Interior Architecture program at the University of Oregon. Through the program, I fell in love with the idea of creating and designing spaces that many people can enjoy in their everyday interactions with the world.

 

I continue to follow the breadcrumbs of my personal design passion: design for healing. I read Healing Spaces by Dr. Esther Sternberg and was hooked on the idea that well-designed environments can heal. This does not mean healthcare, but in every space we inhabit daily. Our workplace, our homes, the experience of grocery shopping, or the classrooms we have to sit in every day as children have an immense subconscious effect on our wellbeing. I want to promote a sense of safety and positivity for as many people as I can.

 

 

For my final comprehensive project in college, I designed a community space called the Ethical Culture Center of Oregon (or ECCO), a non-theistic sacred space and educational center based on ethics and humanist values, where everyone is welcome to explore what sacredness in their life means to them, while also learning what it means to others. I created a large contrasted communal room for listening and learning, with individual darkrooms for meditation and reflection. This marked the beginning of my journey in the search for knowledge to heal & connect.

 

In the next blog post, I’ll share how I am assimilating information to build a foundation for my knowledge and present that information to the industry.

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.


Evolution of Office Amenities Q&A

October 8, 2020

A Special Report from Colliers International

COVID-19’s influence on the future of office space is one of the real estate industry’s million-dollar questions today. With many employees planning to work from home into 2021, is the traditional office environment outdated?

This question cuts to the heart of what we do, so we found a lot of insight (and encouragement) from this Colliers International report.

After interviewing experts in office leasing, tenant representation, workplace strategy, and more, Colliers International believes that offices continue to play an important role in how we conceptualize work. Read their report to learn about:

  • The effects of the work-from-home experiment
  • What changes can help make a return to the office more viable
  • How amenities can evolve to attract workers back to the office

Click HERE to view the Colliers International report.