An In-House Chat with Our Designer on Commercial Design

We recommend looking at the business from two perspectives: inside out and outside in. How staff experience it inwardly and how customers and clients perceive it outwardly. By sharpening the image of a business through interior design, clients and patrons feel more confident in their choice and more apt to refer the business to friends and colleagues.

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Design Solutions: Warming Up Office Spaces

Much like business dress, the design in an office suite should elicit confidence from clients. This makes the typical default one that in the world of fashion is the equivalent of a two piece grey suit: a classic choice, but one that needs a little help from a necktie, jewelry, or a great pair of shoes. 

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Our Market Insights

On our trip to the High Point furniture show this year, the MakeNest team focused on education and research, visiting our favorite sustainable makers in between a number of seminars covering everything from the lifecycle of trends to the latest perspectives on color theory.  We rounded out our trip with a visit to the venerable Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library, where the history and craft of furniture and design is reverenced with near monkish devotion.  Here we highlight a few of the big takeaways from our journey and discovery.

Mass Customization

There are a number of lifestyles for which mass customization in home furnishings can help solve problems and create opportunities.  For the millennial setting up their first apartment and the baby boomer down-sizing from a larger home, modular furnishings can make hard-to-furnish spaces into peaceful oases of organization.  In commercial applications, modular units make office planning flexible and efficient.  

Upon meeting a new resource this market, we are now in the beginning stages of collaborating with an Ohio-based maker who can create modular collections that MakeNest will design in-house, based on our aesthetic style and what we know is appealing to our clients.  The technology that our maker has developed makes optimal use of each sustainably-harvested unit of hardwood, all but eliminating waste and driving down costs to make custom an option for a greater number of clients.

Deco Renaissance

The fabulous Jenna Hall, a legend in international furniture design circles, places Art Deco style on the trend forecast.  Just before the advent of what we generally identify as mid-century design, there was an entirely unique period inspired by advances in furniture production. Mechanized technologies for adhering veneer led to supple waterfall fronts on dressers and sideboards.  Exotic and contrasting hues of wood veneers defined the proportions of doors and drawer fronts.  Then-new developments in plastics allowed designers to produce drawer pull styles that had never existed before.

As with all appropriations of an established aesthetic, the new trend will be interpretive and not a carbon copy.   As a designer, I can imagine how the satin glow of Art Deco finishes would offer a welcome contrast to the cerused woods of recent years - and how those same cerused finishes would compliment the fluid curve of Art Deco's waterfall fronts.  Thinking of the options opened up by 3-D printing, I see designers customizing hardware in ways that will bridge the divide between mass production and the consumer's desire for bespoke details.   

New Colors

At the Pratt & Lambert presentation, four highly-conceptual palettes - each based on a distinctive perspective - revealed dozens of new colors that will play a role in design in the coming seasons.  We studied a palette called Enigma, which embraces the power of deep and muted tones to convey mystery and even melancholy romanticism.  Through a collection named Intrinsic, we explored the use of saturated hues with strong dark neutrals to capture the immediacy and vivacity of nature.  In eight peaceful hues that take their cues from clay and minerals, the Purpose palette studies the use of gentle tones to produce a contemplative space for revery and self-exploration.  Driven by a point of view that celebrates innovation and altered realities, Pratt and Lambert's Convergence palette is a poem of pleasing demi-saturation and complimentary colors.

From my own perspective, and judging by the textiles that have been most inspiring to me recently, I feel that design is veering away from isolated pop colors and into complex blends of hues that exchange energy while creating more layered environments.  Pattern-makers are creating modernized florals and geometrics that provide a variety of tones all in one field.  From a design era that has embraced white space with a singular energy color, we will see a return to the vibrant multiple hues one finds in traditional printed goods.  This shift plays to the idea of environment as expressive and dimensional rather than austerely curated and Instagram-ready.

A new era in design is emerging, one in which the styles of the past are remastered, color looms large and diverse, and technology is bent to offer more options to a greater number of niche markets.  We're excited to be debuting designs we're developing with the many makers that contribute to our Nestology collection.  More inspirations are coming soon from MakeNest, so keep in touch to follow our design journey. - PM

Brand-Supportive Design

By Paul Miller

Interior Designer, IDS Professional Member

Every space tells a story. 

We tell the story of the families who dwell within our projects by allowing their interests and patterns to read in the flow and aesthetic details of their homes.  When our job is to design restaurants, lounges, and lobbies, we aim to tell a different narrative: brand story.


At the bare minimum, the task of a marketing agency is to help a company refine and present its message to the appropriate audience.  In the hands of the extraordinarily thoughtful and creative marketer, a company can even develop a stronger sense of its core identity - sometimes learning that it has yet to establish one. 

Many brands are not a physical location to the public as much as a sense of place.

Many brands are not a physical location to the public as much as a sense of place.  Coca-Cola isn’t a plant with offices and conveyer belts to the average soda lover.  It’s a twist of white on a field of red or a half time ad that draws a chuckle.   Deeper still in our consciousness, it’s the sweet, fizzy burn in a childhood memory, as fleeting a pleasure as fireflies lighting a meadow.

Yet for restauranteurs and many experience-based enterprises, the location of their business is as strong a sense of place as the food the chef creates, the drinks the bartender crafts or the way in which staff engages them during their visit.  In the lobby of a service provider, the stability of the business is suggested by the weight of the actual furnishings.  One hesitates to invest money with a firm that lines up folding chairs in the front room and perches a fax machine on a moving box tagged: Ship Next Tuesday.

We believe the designer working on a commercial project must understand the brand identity of the business.  Knowing who the audience for the business is and determining what they will want out of the experience drives every detail of the outcome.  In the best case scenario, the design blows out past what the brand audience could have imagined, providing a memorable journey that sets a business in a class by itself.

We have helped determine the aesthetic and functional details of restaurants, salons, lounges, professional office lobbies,  as well as public spaces in university housing and learning facilities. Without exception, the best outcomes were always arrived at when the brand story of the client was clearly understood and integrated in the design process.

As it heads into its twelfth year in business, MakeNest is positioning itself to capture more commercial and hospitality projects.  Part of our goal is to underscore our unique sensitivity to branding through design.  The procedure for our commercial projects is to dig deep to discover the intentions, the audience, the narrative, and the brand standard of the company.   In this way,  MakeNest can not only impact the function and beauty of professional and hospitality spaces, but help businesses to edit and project their own brand story.