Sedgewick + Ferweda Architects is a small firm of 6 full-time employees. Our team does whatever it takes to keep the firm running smoothly; this requires everyone to do more than just one type of job every day. Two of our six employees, on top of designing, drafting, reception and some project management, also head the interiors department. As architects in Michigan, we understand the value that comes with successful, sustainable interior materials. We focus on materials that are U.S made, beautiful and have a high standard of ingredients of which it is made. Many of the products we specify have ratings such as Cradle to Cradle, LEED, Declared Labels, Living Building Challenge approved and more. It is important for architects in Michigan to understand what they are specifying and make sure they are looking toward the future of building better buildings and not just looking at the singular bottom line of cost, but looking at the triple bottom line. We always want to find better ways for architects in Michigan to build their buildings. We need them to have tighter envelopes in order to cut down on the electricity it takes to run them. We need these buildings to be able to last and not fall apart. The materials on the interior need to be able to adapt to the people inhabiting the building while also providing a specific feeling and mood acceptable for the users. Architects in Michigan need to design spaces for patients that need to be more calm and more comfortable. Spaces for retail need to be a little more fashionable and creative and compliment the products sold. Spaces for learning need to help engage the kids without being overly distracting. Each project requires different interior materials in order for the client to meet their goals with the space, but the one thing that stays the same between all projects is the attention to what kind of materials we put into the space. They are going to be quality made with an emphasis on sustainability and understanding what kinds of elements are used to make these materials. Another aspect of the role interior design plays in a space is a focus on the acoustics. Hard materials like wood or vinyl plank flooring and drywall can cause a strong echo in spaces. Spaces need to be evaluated in this way for the comfort of the occupants and to make sure the space can be used for its intended purpose. Interior designers can look at the ceiling design and make changes in order to better equip the space for larger meetings where people are not drowned out by the echoes of others talking; these softer materials help absorb the sounds that mitigate the problem of echoing. This is just one more area that is extremely important for architects in Michigan to address. When it comes to the final design of buildings, it is all about the details that can make or break a space.
Interior design is a branch of architecture many people disassociate with architects. Often lay people assume architects only design the exterior envelope of a building, or the envelope and interior walls, and leave the interior fixture and finish selection to interior designers. However, the truth is that architects are also trained as much as and more than interior designers in how to design interior spaces. Our firm has recognized that architects in Michigan have usually been left out of the interior design phase, at least when it comes to fixtures and finishes in those projects. One reason for that is the economic downturn a decade ago. Many clients were not willing to pay for a service they felt was unnecessary or something they believed they could do themselves. But with the recovery of the economy, we have seen an uptick of clients’ willingness to have their finishes designed by professional architects in Michigan.
Many factors are involved in designing interiors of spaces. Everything from walls and wall coverings, flooring, ceilings, lighting, cabinetry, doors, and windows affect how we perceive a space. Often when we are in a space that we find uncomfortable, we do not realize it is probably because the lighting or colors or arrangement of furniture is to blame. Architects in Michigan have the task of considering a wide range of factors when deciding where to position doors and windows, how high to place ceilings, and the type of lighting the space needs. Those factors can differ from those the architects in other areas of the country or world must consider.
Recently, our firm has had the opportunity to be involved in the interior design process for several offices and clinics. We have been selecting wall and flooring materials, paint colors, cabinetry and countertop finishes, specialty light fixtures, and in some instances, specialty toilet fixtures. We meet with clients to get an idea for the type of atmosphere they are looking to create and how they want their employees and patients to feel in the space, and then talk with vendors about options that might fit within the clients’ needs and budget. We consider things like solar orientation when selecting hues of paint and fabrics, as well as sustainability in products we specify. Many people think themselves to be knowledgeable when it comes to colors and trends, but the average person only knows what they have seen before, in person or perhaps in a magazine. But if their job or hobby does not involve design, they are often out of the loop when it comes to design trends and new products or methods. Our job as architects in Michigan is to stay on top of current trends and to forecast what will be next in the world of architecture and design.
Being able to assist our clients in this interior finishing process frees them from the burden of having to select all their own materials, and we can steer them toward the best products for their space’s needs, many they would have not selected themselves.