This month EEF Venue, Engineers’ House, opens a brand-new wing with a suite of new meetings and training spaces, and more options for the venue’s customers. But how did the team create the right space?
How to create the perfect space? When it comes to design, the meetings industry is very much a tale of two types, from an exterior point of view we have buildings of amazing beauty, stunning historical or contemporary architecture, iconic design, and skyline defining engineering.
Inside however, we need to be a little more sober. Our rooms are all about creating business and learning environments, and whilst inspiration is not to be ignored, they need to do their jobs first and make architectural or design statements later. Take our new space at Engineers’ House; already, just a few weeks after opening, we’ve had some excellent feedback from our customers. We used bold colours, displayed woodland murals outside the rooms, but kept the design subtle inside. We’ve got decades of accumulated experience working in this industry and we know how to make comfortable, focused, meeting & training spaces that still hold a touch of inspiration, and a lot of style.
So, who to work with when it comes to designing space? There is of course the temptation to bring in a band of city architects, blue note pads in hand, and with enough ideas and creativity to light up a building, inside and out. Its wallet withering stuff, and these guys are worth their salt, but really, what we’re often looking for is something a little more subtle.
When we designed The Fusion Wing, we took the decision to be a little braver, and look at each element together as a team, alongside our customers, to create a space by ourselves. The findings were really interesting and came together to create a space that we’re all really proud of.
It’s worth noting that at Engineers’ House we’re privileged to be in the most stunning of buildings, historic and inspirational on the outside, and ornate and stylish within, so already we’ve impressed a lot of people by the time they’ve reached the front door. But we’re also aware that this all comes with a responsibility as well, if we set the bar high on entry, we need to keep it high in every space.
But the first thing that most of our clients wanted, was a learning space. Keep it distraction free, ‘this is our space now, not yours, so keep your logo and colours to yourself and feel free not to ram it down our throats every time we walk into a room’. Ouch! Harsh but fair. So, first things first, keep things neutral, allow the customer to light up the room, and don’t take any options away from them, could we even call it a ‘blank canvass’?
Secondly, the overwhelming position of most of our clients was, ‘well you’re the ones who know about space; we know about learning, but you know about environment, what do you think?’ The tables have been turned, but fair enough, so we’ll go for ergonomic chairs, easy to use flip boards, walls which invite multiples of scribbled paper and scrawl, and glare proof tables and furniture.
Next, another 180; ‘still, don’t make it boring, we’re real people after all’. OK, so add in some notes of colour, just to elevate the look. Now, suddenly what we have is a contemporary addition to a subtle space put together with experience and knowledge.
Outside the room, the direction is clear, once delegates get out of the room, they need their minds lifted, they want something that wipes away the fug of 4-5 hours of learning and content. They need coffee, water, smoothies, but they also want physical space and refreshments. Again, what we created was pleasant lounge and breakout space, a nice forest mural that reflected the gardens surrounding Engineers’ House, and lifted spirits, albeit subconsciously. Colour is once again a theme, because we continue to learn that people like splashes of colour; it brightens them and makes the environment more pleasant for delegates.
And suddenly we’re done, we’ve designed our interiors, pushed walls around to create the right size space that suits our customers, opened up more lounge space, and created a wing that suits everyone. It’s a perfect fusion of what we know and what our customers like, in fact, maybe we should call it the Fusion Wing, sounds like a nice name …