How to liven up your office reception using copper

Shimmering or weathered, polished or textured, man's oldest metal will bring elegance and warmth into your office reception.

A well-designed office reception is never an accident. But why is your reception area so important? Why should you invest time and money in it and what is so fascinating about copper?

The answer is simple. The reception area is arguably the most important part of your office because it is the first point of contact between you and your client. And since first impressions are the most lasting, a well-presented reception area is well-worth investing in.

brass magazine rack for the office
Copper Wire Triangle Magazine Rack by Rockett St George

Now that we know how crucial first impressions are, let's find out what your office reception could look like if copper were the running theme.

From furniture, through lighting, to accessories, you can use copper to liven up your office reception. But what is the secret to an elegant, well-balanced copper office reception?

copper jesmonite coffee table
Copper Nim Table by Pinch

Accents are the secret. And accents mean contrasts. A pinch of luxe here, a dash of warmth there... Use copper sparingly but cleverly and you will strike a balance between excessive and dull.

Mix copper with contrasting materials like stone, wood or smoked glass to create a variety of textures and styles, from Scandinavian minimalism to a mid-century vintage look.

copper mirror series
These copper mirrors by Hunter & Narud would add a touch of elegance to a modern office reception

Fill the corner of your office reception with a jesmonite and powdered copper coffee table by Pinch, grace your reception desk with a trio of freestanding copper, mild-steel and stone mirrors by Hunter & Narud and pepper the room with a selection of Tom Dixon's glass and copper vases.

As for lighting, opt for copper-spun pendants by Josie Morris, to be displayed alone or in a cluster.

Copper vases by Tom Dixon
Office accessories by Tom Dixon at Maison & Objet 2015 

And what if your furniture could multitask? Bisque's Arteplano radiator in etched copper looks less like a heat source and more like a striking wall art feature.

arteplano radiator in etched copper
Arteplano radiator in etched copper, by Bisque
copper handle pendants
Handle pendants by Josie Morris 

Paul Kelley's versatile BOB collection below also holds great appeal since it consists of a series of copper-clad, magnetic cubes that can be arranged and rearranged to create an infinite number of shapes and furniture items. Those include armchairs, coffee tables, shelves and even a set of stairs!

Paul Kelley's copper cubes
Copper cube chair by Paul Kelley

Of course, an article on office receptions would be incomplete without the mention of reception desks, not immune to the copper trend.

The copper reception desk pictured below sits in contrast with the concrete decor and adds a significant touch of warmth to an otherwise gray-filled office reception. 

industrial-style office with copper desk

Northern Lighting: minimalist lamps for the common areas of your office

The lighting scheme you choose in the common areas of your office, be it the reception or the waiting room, can make a world of difference for your tenants.

scandinavian style floor lamp for the common areas of your office
Oslo Wood, designed by Ove Rogne. Photography: Chris Tonnesen

Lighting in commons areas can be flexible, adjustable, direct or indirect; it can be subtle just as much as it can be the centrepiece of a space. It all depends on the activities and needs you will be catering to.

Does your reception include a waiting area? Could you turn this into a micro-living room, complete with an inviting sofa and a striking floor lamp? Could your breakout space benefit from a well-lit reading nook or a set of informal meeting spaces?

Curating what goes into the common areas of your workspace can make a world of difference for your tenants. 

How do you decide on what lighting scheme to go for?

minimalist ceiling light
Above, the light you can look up to. Designed Morten & Jonas. Photograph: Chris Tonnesen

The key to curating an office reception, breakout area or even a lift lobby, is to have a leitmotif, an cohesive overarching theme that will tie everything together. In this article, our theme is minimalism – Scandinavian style.

As their name indicates, Northern Lighting products draw inspiration from the functional minimalism ingrained in Scandinavian design. Smart, elegant and easy on the eyes, Northern Lighting lamps bridge the gap between aesthetics and functionality and bring something new to every space they sit in.

From pendant lights, through floor lamps, to wall lights and even table lamps, they are designed to enhance the quality of ambient light. No harsh, neon lights to repel prospects off. Northern Lighting is all about soft, diffused lighting that creates a soothing yet striking environment, perfect for those who wish to make a statement from the onset.

Diva floor oak lamp
Diva, designed by Peter Natedal & Thomas Kalvatn Egset. Photograph: Colin Eick

Northern Lighting came to life in Oslo in 2005, and its products are crafted in collaboration with designers from all corners of the world. This diversity is well reflected in the range of forms and styles they offer yet somehow, every single design is guided by the same Scandinavian minimalism.

Whether you want to illuminate your reception area with elegance and style, uplift the dull corridors of your office or class up your breakout spaces, we believe Northern Lighting will help you achieve that minimalist high-end look.

We're definitely inspired. Are you?

Opening photo: Dokka, designed by Birger Dahl. Photograph: Colin Eick

Why should your office reception feature a living wall?

Wood-panelled office reception features living wall

An office receptions that features a green wall will not only set your space apart, it will also speak to the green tenant.

It is a well-known fact that being around nature reduces stress. Ironically, it is also a well-known fact that an overwhelming majority of us spend most of our days stuck inside, bathed in the wonderful blue light of our computers.

But what if you could get the best of both worlds by bringing the outside in to liven up the common spaces of your office?

office reception with living wall
A vertical garden serves as backdrop to the reception. Photo by jingdianjiaju2

Living walls are not new, in fact, variations of them have existed for centuries, from the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the ‘climbing plants’ phenomenon in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Today, they are also known as green walls, vertical gardens or Vegetated Complex Walls (VCW) and they have been growing in popularity ever since renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc invented the modern concept of the vertical garden (Mur Végétal).

office lobby with green walls
Dynamic green wall in the office reception of high-tech company Verint. Settler Architects

Green walls have been around for a while. But what about indoor living walls? Far from ubiquitous in the workplace, living walls remain on the rise and are guaranteed to liven up your office reception, lift lobby or or breakout area. 

And the benefits don't stop there. A green wall at the office makes for a healthier environment by regulating humidity levels and improving air quality. Not only that, it can also increase the property value of your office by conveying a modern and forward-thinking image.

That's not all.

office lobby boasts green wall
A touch of nature in Microsoft's Vienna HQ. INNOCAD Architekur

Vertical gardens can also improve the acoustics of a room. Just like exterior living walls dampen the noise pollution in busy cities, indoor living walls have significant sound insulation potential.

Of course, living walls can also be great marketing tools to promote a sustainable image that will speak directly to the green customer.

The impact of vertical gardens in your office reception is significant, but what if you were to introduce some greenery in your office washroom?

Living walls and restrooms are an almost unheard of combination and yet, commercial washrooms could benefit a lot from improved air quality and regulated humidity levels. Such progressive, ecological feature is also bound to increase the property value of an office space.

Think about it.

Emotional Light by Arturo Alvarez: sculptural lamps for a trendier office

Somewhere between sculpture and lamp, Emotional Light is as poetic as it is innovative – a combination that may well stand out in your office reception. 

One of the most talked-about displays at the Euroluce lighting fair this year has been Arturo Alvarez's lighting, inspired by nature and designed to evoke emotions. 

The exhibition, part of Milan's famous Salone del Mobile 2017, featured seven of Alvarez's collections, including a shell-shaped ceiling light and a floor lamp reminiscent of a brittle bird-nest. 

Although it was originally designed for homes, we think Arturo Alvarez's lighting has its place in the workplace too.

arturo alvarez conversas
Arturo Alvarez conversas

Poetic and playful at once, his lamps distinguish themselves through the use of patented SIMETECH®, a handcrafted material composed of a stainless steel mesh coated in silicone. Highly malleable, this mesh allows its designer to unleash its creativity and add a sculptural depth to his work.

This resulted in highly innovative, elegant and contemporary lighting solutions which, if placed strategically throughout your office, could leave a good impression on both employees and potential prospects. And since first impressions are the most lasting, we can already picture a set of the Pili pendant lights pictured below, hanging over the waiting area of your reception area.

Pili pendant lights Arturo Alvarez
Two Pili lamps lend some warmth in a concrete interior

If you want to set yourself apart and be considered as a modern, design-led workplace that also oozes personality, you should opt for state-of-the-art lighting that is sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time. Not an easy balance to strike!

Pili table lamp Arturo Alvarez
Pili table lamp Arturo Alvarez
Onn wall light Arturo Alvarez
Onn ceiling light Arturo Alvarez
Ura pendant lights Arturo Alvarez
Ura painted steel mesh lamps Arturo Alvarez
Encontros Arturo Alvarez
encontros Arturo Alvarez
Opening image: Blum wall lamp, Arturo Alvarez

Seven ways to add colour to your office

Is your office lacking energy? Colour is an excellent way to liven up the workplace and infuse personality into your office environment. 

Skype offices, Stockholm. By PS Arkitektur

Did you know there is such a thing as a fear of colour? It is called chromophobia and it can lead to panic attacks and different levels of anxiety. For the majority of us, however, who love colours, it is now widely known that it has a positive influence on your wellbeing at the office. But where should you use it and how can you maximize the desired effect of your greens and blues?

Painting the walls of your office a certain shade of 'productive' is only one of many other ways to add colour to your workplace. You can also choose to liven up your office with bright, colourful furniture or frame your conference room in tinted glass; flooring and ceiling are not immune to colour either.

Before you take your pick, be sure to define your goals. Do you want to highlight all semi-private meeting rooms in your open-plan office? Are you trying to define or sectionalise areas of your office? Do you think your breakout space or reception area don't stand out enough?

Whatever your goal, colour can probably help you achieve it. Here are seven ideas to add colour to your office.

1. Colourful furniture

ECOM Recruitment, Marylebone, London. By Action Workspace

Choosing colourful furniture is one of the best ways to add a splash of colour to your office without having to revamp the entire floor. Bright furniture in an otherwise neutral office can help liven up your workspace but also define and separate certain areas by using a different colour scheme.

Above, the architects have opted for vibrant furniture in the waiting area to help separate it from the open place office.

2. Vibrant floor treatment

Insurance company Medibank's office building, Melbourne Australia. By Hassel

 Chromatic floor treatment is another effective tool when looking to define certain spaces with colour. This will allow you to set clearer, albeit conceptual boundaries, without putting up partitions.

Hassel's refreshing use of colour above appears to highlight corridors and circulation areas, while the various shades add a sense of playfulness to the office.

From tinted concrete, through border stripes on wood floors, to a patterned carpet, flooring can easily be made the centrepiece of your office. If you want to keep it simple yet personalised, why not have a custom logo made or inlaid into your floor?

3. Distinctive lighting

PR agency in Dubai, by Stella + the Stars. Photography: Elizabeth Argyll

Colourful lighting can transform a dull office into a quirky one, and it is an easy upgrade too. The clusters of lamps dotted around the office above can add some warmth and character to the interior, and when it comes to office lighting, you're spoilt for choice.

Use pendants over your reception desk or hang them above the conference table. And don't forget sconces to line those long, dark corridors.

 4. Statement staircase

Vinge Law Firm, by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB. Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman

Nothing impresses more than a grand, curved staircase that winds up to the second floor of your office. Add colour to that, and you are bound to make a statement.

Notice how colour was used inside Swedish law firm Vinge, pictured above. Both the staircase and a small waiting area have been set apart through the use of colour – simple, elegant and above all, effective.

5. Bold artwork

Duchy of Lancaster, corporate art collection. Credit: Workplace Art

Paintings, sculptures, any form of artwork is bound to liven up your office by adding a dash of colour. Not sure where to start? Art in the workplace offers a lot of opportunities – Deutsche Bank's corporate art collection is bound to inspire.

6. Reviving plants

Large living wall inside Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica's office atrium in Vancouver, British Columbia. By Gustavson Wylie Architects

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

7. Creative murals

Facebook London's office in Regent's Place, Geo Law  

 Youth-oriented companies may consider street art murals to infuse some personality and energy into their workplace. Office murals make for great feature walls – hire an illustrator or graffiti artist and enjoy the benefits of a custom-made mural that can speak to the innovative, cutting-edge side of your business.

Reception desk design – first impressions matter

The reception desk is the face of a company. It comes as no surprise, then, that it should help promote its values and philosophy.

They come in all shapes and sizes and their materials range from wood, through concrete, to marble. Some are minimalistic, others are extravagant but they all share one goal – they must communicate the values of a company.

Reception desks dictate the tenor of your workplace and as such, the rule is simple: if you want to make a lasting first impression, do not neglect them.

Here is a selection of eye-catching reception desks that feature a bold use of materials and captivating sculptural forms.

GDF Suez & Simply Energy, Melbourne, Australia

contemporary reception desk for GDF Suez Simple Energy
Artillery. Photography Andrew Iser

Reminiscent of a thunderbolt light, strips of light evoke currents of electricity for Australian energy provider GDF Suez.

Atelier Krikos, Punjab, India

sculptural reception desk at Atelier Krikos in India
Studio Ardete. Photography: Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

Asymmetry, sharp angles and a play on textures define the upscale reception area of Atelier Krikos. The two-tone reception desk stands out against the black mirror granite flooring.

10 Brock Street, Regents Place, London

A sculptural bronze reception desk stands proud as the centrepiece of a nine storey atrium. Its dynamic geometry is inspired by the faceted external facade of the building.

bronze reception desk at 10 Brock Street
Reception desk manufactured by Terence Conran's Benchmark Furniture company. Architect: Wilkinson Eyre.

Trading Technologies, Singapore

office reception desk at Trading Technologies
Software company Trading Technologies Singapore office. By Kyoob-id

An interesting blend of materials and styles makes for a striking reception desk built on contrasts. The wooden counter is fitted with a minimalistic cream panel that conveys warmth with a hint of modernism.

Satchi office, Guangzhou, China

sleek reception desk at Satchi office
Feeling Design. Photography © He Yuansheng

White prevails in this lobby and its crispness is highlighted by a deep blue carpet and sculptural lighting. In this reception area, less is definitely more.

Aberdeen Asset Management, Uxbridge, London

chic reception desk design
Laser cut screens by Miles & Lincoln

Miles and Lincoln created weave-patterned, laser-cut panels which add a golden touche of luxe in this corporate reception area.

Analog Folk, Shoreditch, London

cork reception desk
DH Liberty. Photography: Quintin Lake

The waiting area inside Analog Folk features a distinctive chipboard reception desk and polished concrete flooring, thus drawing inspiration from the digital advertising agency's love of traditional values and digital technologies.

Opening photo: Giant Pixel office by O+A. Photography © Jasper Sanidad

The Rio side table will lend warmth to your office waiting area

Luxurious and comfortable, the Rio side table strikes the perfect balance between corporate and homey.

Current design trends show that commercial and residential design aren't as far apart as they may seem. With 35% of our waking time spent at work, feeling at home while at the office is becoming a necessity for our wellbeing. 

Unsurprisingly, furniture can play a big part in making employees feel more at home. Instead of corporate tables and chairs, more and more offices are adopting a residential feel. Think soft seating, plush pile carpet, paintings and sculptures, anything that exudes warmth and comfort.

Office receptions, waiting areas in particular, can greatly benefit from said warmth. A careful selection of the furniture will ensure that clients and prospects are greeted with care and attention. With its textural feel and dynamic shape, the Rio side table might do just that. 

Originally designed by Charlotte Perriand for Jacques Martin's home in Rio, the Rio table was re-released by Italian furniture designer Cassina. A round side table constructed from six wedges of alternating sizes with a hole at the centre, the Rio table will lend warmth and character to your office waiting area. 

It is available in three different finishes: natural oak with a Carrara white marble top, black-stained oak with Marquiña black marble top, and natural oak with Viennese cane. 

Photos via Minima Home

Can hotel lobbies inspire better office receptions?

Office reception desk by Ron Arad

What happens when you walk into a hotel lobby, an office reception, or any space for the first time?

We’ve all been taught never to judge a book by its cover. But let’s face it, we can’t help but jump to conclusions. Try as we may to rationalise and give someone the benefit of the doubt, if our first impression has been tainted, it is often hard to shake that feeling off.

Thankfully for us (and for them), fine hotels have come to understand the amplitude of this arrival experience. Gone are the days when hotel lobbies were nothing but a dull, uninspiring space for customers to dash through on their way to their room.

Today, hotel lobbies are designed to set the bar high. They are designed to welcome, make a striking first impression, and let us not forget, make profit. So what can commercial real estate landlords learn from the hospitality industry? How can hotel lobbies inspire better office receptions?

Let’s go around the world to find out.

1. Make a statement, show your personality

Green wall inside Icon hotel in Hong Kong
Hotel Icon in Hong Kong houses Asia’s largest indoor vertical garden in its lobby. Credit: Patrick Blanc.

The rule is simple. If you want to stand out, you have to be different. And hospitality developers often bank on this element of surprise to attract more guests and consequently, more profit. Inspiring hotel lobbies often boast a particular style, they set the scene, they feature thought-provoking art, high-end lighting fixtures and an inviting space to unwind or hold informal meetings.

2. Integrate revenue streams

CitizenM hotel canteen
A canteen lies at the heart of CitizenM Hotel's lobby in London. The bar is surrounded by various relaxing eating, and working spaces.

A coffee and a croissant can go a long way. Integrating amenities and services such as coffee shops, bars, restaurants and even retail is a sure fire way to enhance your revenues. When guests are short on time, there is nothing more convenient than in-house offerings and exciting retail experiences at your doorstep. Mixed-use office receptions can hope for the same results: it’s all about drawing more traffic.

3. If you want to be the best, hire the best

Office reception desk by Ron Arad
Ron Arad designed Milan's DuoMo Hotel striking reception desk, a stainless steel loop, reminiscent of a futuristic flying saucer. Photo by Simon Tegala

World renowned, French botanist Patrick Blanc designed the living wall in Hong Kong’s Hotel Icon. Similarly, the DuoMo hotel in Milan hired Ron Arad, one of the most influential designers of our time to design a slick reception desk for their striking hotel lobby. If you want that unique first impression, you have to be ready to invest in the best. Ceilings, walls, floors, lighting, furniture can all compete to become the feature of the space.  

Yes, we do tend to judge a book by its cover but in the hospitality industry, as much as in commercial real estate, prejudgements are are the good kind of bad. They inspire landlords to realise the potential of those key public spaces and put an emphasis on them.

Calling all landlords –  6 ways to improve your office reception

The office reception is the first space potential tenants will discover when they visit your space. If you want to make a good first impression (hint: you should), there are several ways to make the reception area as attractive and leasable as possible.


Here are six ways you can improve, thus make your office reception more leasable.

1. Know your audience


Online lending & investing platform Lendinvest's London office, by Oktra

In order to hold your tenant’s attention, it is always useful to know your audience. To put it differently: what kind of tenant are you building for? Are you looking to attract a big tech company or targeting a creative start-up? Why would a traditional law firm or financial institution like the space you’re offering?

Having your dream end user in mind will help you stay focused: nobody likes undecided landlords and if your office reception seems to be on the fence, chances are your prospective tenant will be too. It might be tempting to appeal to a broader audience but, just like employers like to read a tailored cover letter, tenants like to see build-outs that have been designed with them in mind.

So now, you have done your research, you have established what is in high demand and you have settled on your dream tenant. How will you capture their interest and convince them that you care? How will you set the tone?

2. Think neutral colours

Many studies have shown that colour impacts our mood. Although it can be useful to know that reds increase energy levels and yellows encourage productivity, the majority of prospective tenants will prefer a more neutral office reception, one they can personalise themselves. Go for neutral, versatile tones like blues, greys and whites: those will complement just about every company’s brand colours.

3. Don’t forget the flooring


Award winning global digital agency OMD's reception area, by Trifle Creative. Credit: Rob Wilson

A high-quality, neutral finish is also desired on the floor. Seamless terrazzo, smooth, matt epoxy, luxury vinyl tiles, contemporary stone or long pile carpets for a more luxurious feel. Those are just a handful of high-quality flooring options you can use to create a professional look that will appeal to your prospective tenant. Impress your tenants from the very first step they take into your office.

4. Avoid built-ins

Office design is all about efficiency and the demand for flexible spaces is higher than ever. Built-ins are expensive and will end up costing your tenants even more if and when they decide to remove them. More often than not, a company will prefer to match their built-ins to their own furniture.

5. Think beyond the reception desk

Flexibility is a recurring word in today’s workplace design. Functional, mixed-use reception areas that can double as break-out areas are growing in popularity. And what if you introduced a coffee shop in the reception area? Such an amenity will quickly become a marketing asset and will be a surefire way to enhance your revenue.


Asana's headquarters in San Francisco, by Geremia Design. The reception area features a bar.  Credit: Cesar Rubio

6. Be open to change

Your office reception should be adaptive and so should you. The more flexible you are, the harder your offer will be to resist. Expect tenants to ask for changes, expect them to dictate their requirements, expect them to be dissatisfied with one aspect or another. This isn’t personal, this is business. Easily satisfied tenants are as scarce as hen’s teeth, unless of course they’re easily satisfied with the very best.

So how can you make it an offer that is hard to turn down?

Don't rush to start refurbishing before you have a set idea of who you are refurbishing for. Opt for neutral tones and finishes, both on the walls and on the floor; bold and vibrant colours are great for office receptions but you would be playing the guessing game so don't yield to temptation! Keep your space flexible and be open to change yourself.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson, John Henrik Clarke


How can a detail oriented waiting area transform your office reception?

A reception space with a neglected waiting area is as ineffective as it is senseless. 

By definition, a reception area is designed to receive, be it clients, business partners, prospects or visitors, it is the gate to your office and the reflection of your business.

Now, let's imagine you enter a spacious reception area with a sleek reception desk, striking lighting features, maybe even a bit of branding in the shape of a logo carved in the desk. You're a little early for your meeting with the sales director, no problem, you never finished that Business Insider article you were reading on the tube, you'll just take a seat and — oh wait.

Marketing agency Gravitate office, Vancouver, Washington

Uncomfortable seating, worn-out upholstery, or no seating whatsoever, the waiting area in commercial properties is often neglected when the budget is tight. Yet, the reception area is likely to be your client's first interaction with your office space - in other words:  not caring for your waiting area is bound to yield terrible first impressions, which will, in turn, yield terrible business. Not what you want.

So how can you make a great first impression?

The waiting area is part and parcel of every reception space. By providing a quiet, comfortable space, you're giving your clients the opportunity to appreciate your business (don't worry, a bit of judgement is good for business growth,) and your affinity for design, a.k.a., how closely you're paying attention to detail.

Google Amsterdam's office. Architect: DDOCK

Answer the following. Is your business detail-oriented? Do you care for your clients and do you want them to know that you care? Are you looking to set yourself apart from the crowd? Chances are, you answered yes to all above questions, and the good news is: it all starts with a swanky reception area, complete with a functional waiting area.

Ergonomic, durable furniture items that have met BIFMA standards, built-in VS. modular seating, bespoke designer furniture... From modern ottomans and soft seating to lounge chairs and low tables, decisions might prove difficult, so here's an inspiring selection to get you started.

Zimmerman Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Architects: Gensler 
Adobe London office in The White Collar Factory. 

DNA seating, by Teknion

Opening photo: Headquarters schlaich bergermann und partner, Stuttgart, Germany. Architects: Ippolito Fleitz Group. Photography: Zooey Braun