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Published 06.12.2021

Interview — When company culture is key

Architect Signe Blomquist is Head of Interior and Workspace Design at the Danish powerhouse that is Henning Larsen Architects. She is particularly interested in understanding the culture of organisations to create workplace design solutions that not only result in more satisfied employees, but also happier clients and ultimately better bottom lines. Here, she tells us about the modern workplace, the development it has undergone and where our workplace situation is headed.

— Head of Interior and Workspace Design,
Henning Larsen Architects. Aarhus School of Architecture, Architect, 2008

“Over the past 10-15 years the way we look at office layouts has been very marked by the development around activity-based interior design. Due to technological advancement it is now possible for us to work from everywhere else that in the physical workspace. This means that the simultaneity in the workplace is in many cases down to 30% on a weekly basis.

Not only is it getting harder for employees to share knowledge between them, it fundamentally harms development and progress. At the same time, a sense of belonging to the workplace becomes weaker, and the consequence for the company might be that the most attractive employees look further afield for new challenges.

That’s why we in the future will put heavier emphasis on creating interior concepts that support a strong culture and identity, and thereby create and workplace where the employees actually want to come into every day. This means that architects who work with office design have to meet new and much more demanding requirements.

At Henning Larsen Architects we experience that our clients are very aware of the potential effect the workplace design has on the bottom line. As opposed to earlier, workplace design has increasingly become an investment in the employees. Knowing that a well-designed office has the ability to attract the best workers and ultimately create happier clients makes business owners willing to go the extra mile to create the best possible workspace for the company. I believe that the culture of the company is going to play an increasingly significant role in workplace design.

As architects we have to be skilled at understanding what kind of organisation we are working with, and translate it into spaces and interior design. Another important thing we’ll notice is the sustainable approach to interior design. We will have to meet much stricter requirements both in terms of indoor climate but also in relation to the furniture we are suggesting.

The modern workplace is also one that prioritizes each employee’s individual work flow and how he or she performs in the best way possible. Research shows that job satisfaction for the individual employee is closely tied to the actual joy of doing a satisfying job. That’s why it’s super important to look at and improve the physical surroundings to make sure each employee has the best conditions to do the job. The choice of furniture is not unimportant, just like it’s equally important how we program our floor plan. A less favoured workflow might result in lost earnings.”

Since 1959

In 1959, Henning Larsen founded his own architectural practice, where he was active for more than 50 years. Today, the company is considered to be one of Denmark’s most successful studios.

How does your own workspace look?

“My own workspace is made up of lots of different rooms and furniture typologies. All of them support the exact working situation I need to perform a specific job.”

When are you most creative and effective?

“When I have the right physical surroundings to do my job.”