The design of an office makes a huge impact on those who work in it. Few things promote a positive atmosphere in a work environment more than the look and feel of the workplace.
Here at CardCash, our offices have long had an elegant professional feel. Hard wood for the walls, marble and carpet for the flooring, and glass walls for conference room areas, all help convey a sense of sophistication and professionalism.
These are both feelings we need in our company culture. CardCash.com is a company that needs the customers trust that they will receive prompt and fair payment in return for their gift cards.
As we planned for our office expansion however, we wanted employees to also feel comfortable and creative as our fast paced startup environment requires both of those elements.
Our CEO, Elliot Bohm, wanted a space that will inspire and facilitate productivity. Modern interesting designs, open relaxing meeting spaces, and bright innovative design notes that will create a unique work environment.
That’s where our interior designer, the renowned Susan Strauss came into the picture.
Susan Strauss is a renowned interior designer who is known not only for her exceptional designs but for her out of the box creativity. She is the principal of a firm that has been creating luxurious living environments for clients of the most discerning tastes for over a decade.
Rachel sat down with Susan Strauss to discuss corporate design and gift cards.
On Susan Strauss…
Rachel: Were you always interested in design?
Susan: Yes. I’ve been interested in design since I was really little. When my parents renovated their home, I helped them choose different colors. I was about 10 or 12 years old and they even took opinions from me.
Rachel: Wow. And they trusted you?
Susan: Yes. They totally did. I was always interested in colors and ideas and things like that. I knew I wanted to get into it. As soon as I moved here from Australia, I got a job in the tile industry, which is in the design field. And then I branched out.
Rachel: How would you describe your overall design style?
Susan: Overall we work with the client’s needs. So if somebody wants a modern style, we work with modern. If somebody prefers a more traditional look, we work with that. Personally, I like the modern, clean look because it’s an open feel.
My mind works better when a place is open and not cluttered or a heavy, traditional style.
But I do appreciate the traditional too. Everyone’s needs are different and I enjoy working in all different styles.
Rachel: What was different about the CardCash project compared to other design jobs you’ve worked on before?
Susan: The first and main thing was that Eli [Rachel: that’s our contractor] was involved and he was really understanding. Anything creative that we wanted to do, he was for it and he was going to look into it. Normally when I have a typical contractor, they’re not so interested in doing things that are not tried and true. Anything out of the box that we would have to research takes much more time and effort. It’s a lot more complicated, so contractors would rather do something that’s easier. But Eli was very willing to try anything. He was willing to somehow figure it out and he did. That was the biggest difference.
For example, the stripes and quotes on the walls that give a quick boost when you’re feeling down.
We came up with the concept, but then when it was time to follow through, he researched which lines would be best. And then he created the template for it. And together we figured out how we were going to install it, etc.
Even the art and paint. It had to be thought out as far as which paint and what are we going to do. You have to be a bit artistic and a little bit imaginative to figure these things out.
Secondly, we used a lot of gift cards and a lot of the things were handmade. They wanted the kitchen cabinets to be black and black kitchens are more expensive, so we ended up doing brown cabinets and we painted them black.
We did a lot of things like that. A lot of things were done in-house just to keep the cost down. That was different from the standard job I would take.
Rachel: Do you think CardCash gift cards can help designers cut down their costs and save on projects?
Susan: Most certainly yes! Like I said before, we used the gift cards for a lot of things. We used them for everything that we bought at Lowe’s. We bought Michael’s gift cards for a lot of the art supplies. There were quite a few things that we bought with gift cards.
Rachel: Did you feel like you were able to spend more money because you had that extra money in the gift card?
Susan: We definitely had “more money” in the gift card than what it costed, so we were able to spend more money.
Also, I didn’t feel as bad spending the money because we got a big bang for our buck.
On Corporate Design…
Rachel: What are some differences between designing an office and designing a residential space?
Susan: There are a lot of differences. When you’re designing a home, you’re working with one person, one family.You’re working with their needs and their style. When you’re designing an office, you need to think about a lot more people than just one family. There ends up being a lot more opinions when you’re designing an office and a lot of people will be working there. And in general, you have to keep durability in mind. You want a theme through it, a color theme or whatever else. There’s a different type of creativity when you’re designing an office. The things that you have on your walls in the hallway that you could do in an office without an issue, wouldn’t work very well in the hallway of a home.
Rachel: Do you see how office design really affects the work culture and the work itself?
Susan: Definitely. When you walk into a space that just feels fun and it’s designed well and the ambiance is positive, people feel better about working there and coming there. The whole work experience is more comfortable.
Rachel: What inspires you in your design work?
Susan: Anything at all. It could be a car going by outside or a bicycle. It could be a painting on a wall. It could be really anything at all.
Anything I see that gives me a concept, a color, an inspiration.
I could be driving down the street and I’ll see a sign. I’ll take a picture of it and the concept will be incorporated into one of my projects.
Rachel: How do you stay on top of the current design trends?
Susan: I go to shows fairly often. I fly to Las Vegas, North Carolina, Miami and there are some great shows locally in New York. That’s the best way to stay on top of trends. Additionally, I am always reading current design magazines.
Rachel: Thank you Susan for giving us your valuable insights. All your time and effort you put into the CardCash office really stands out!