Interior Storytelling: Design by Authoring Your Interiors
We are all pushovers for good stories. Whether we like it or not, narratives often define our personal and company identities. Shakespeare's work is known for its universal themes and insight into the human condition. Similarly, storytelling through a design-based approach helps your customers understand who you really are.
Now more than ever, design means more than just where to place your conference table or who-sits-next-to-who. In the field of interior design, we have the expertise of reinterpreting space to help not only communicate a brand message, but also attract and retain talent, reduce absenteeism, and improve productivity. Stimulating, vivid, authentic, and well-crafted reception areas, workstations, or private offices form the identity of your corporation by integrating ideas of wonder, mystery, possibility, connection, and engagement.
So how can we use three different storytelling models to communicate a compelling brand message through interior design?
The Once Upon a Time interior is timeless and classic. After kissing a few frogs, you will surprise and delight your customer. This is no fairytale; your company delivers on a dream come true. You help customers imagine the world that they thought was impossible. Upon entering this space, you provide points of reference and layers of relatability via a coffee bar or well-known piece of art. The use of cultural artifacts ups the level of connectivity. This connection leads to loyalty. The ultimate Once Upon a Time interior experience creates an environment where your employees know their innovation and creativity matter, customers gain insight on why they should do business with you, and it encourages the community-at-large to aspire to do more.
The Cliffhanger interior is an enter at your own risk design. Not satisfied with the status quo, it appeals to our sensory and emotional sides. The message is provocative and elusive with a hint of je ne sais quoi. It is a strong juxtaposition of ironically complementary principals like a yin and yang or Cheech and Chong kind of an interior. Introduce curated furniture pieces from estate sales, reclaimed wood, or a tube slide if you like. This interior weaves a little mystery into your brand story, evoking wonder and provoking interaction. It creates conversation, an unscripted story, and is customizable as the patron experiences it.
The Overcoming the Monster interior, or bluntly put, is a "Move or die!" design. The stakes are high, and the rules are simply stated and easy-to-follow in a way that is succinct yet compelling. It's "Go big or go home." The point of view of the brand message is survival. Your product or services are critical to a customer’s success or lack thereof. They are consuming your brand's education, applying it to their life and then looking back to you for the answer. You are positioned as the mentor and in turn allowing your customer to be the hero. You are showing them the path of possibility and interacting with them in such a way where you can guide them towards your vision. The interior will be monochromatic, single functioning spaces, possibly with one way in and one way out. This interior environment shows customers why they should be confident and trust you with their lives, not only when you talk about the day-to-day, but also when you project blissful possibilities of the future.
Nothing is a more affirming of who we are and what we represent than when we connect through stories. Walls talk and share the experiences and similarities we have with one another. As effective interior designers, we combine our passion for design with our client’s passion for their business into compelling visual narratives. Narratives that translate company values into beautiful interior manifestations of fabric, furniture, and architectural detailing that vocalize your brand with soul, color, wonder, and celebration.
Ronda Jackson, IIDA, CID is the founder and Chief Workplace Stylist in Décor Interior Design’s LA office, and a leader of the firm's corporate interiors group. She believes that a strong interior brand story can be a powerful asset, whether in the environment of an executive suite or bank lobby. She works with global brands to create interiors involving brand strategy and identity, talent retention, space utilization and maximizing productivity.