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Here’s an easy resolution for 2024. Spend a few minutes taking in your office reception or
lobby area – do you feel focused, energised or a bit “meh”? If it’s the last, time to rethink
your reception décor.
Charles Harris image Charles Harris

Health & Environment

Decoration inspiration in the reception or lobby

Here’s an easy resolution for 2024. Spend a few minutes taking in your office reception or lobby area – do you feel focused, energised or a bit “meh”? If it’s the last, time to rethink your reception décor.

Humans make judgments almost instantly, and the moment anyone enters an office building they’re getting visual messages that affect how they view your business. So reception décor needs to create a strong impression that sticks. And as many workers transition back into the office from home, new décor ideas in a lobby or reception can support their well-being (and productivity) by making them feel excited to be part of a community.

What’s your story?

Plenty of experts advise that the colours, textures, accessories in the lobby can express a business’s brand and values. The right décor ideas require a clear point of view on how you want the space to make people feel – maybe calm, curious, or even amused.

A darker, monochrome scheme with matte surfaces and metal furniture is likely to feel more luxurious and serious, whereas warm tones and upholstered furniture will give a more relaxed vibe. For inspiration, Office Snapshots is a vast, real-world global resource.

Another smart use of time is an event like Clerkenwell’s annual Design Week, held across a neighbourhood packed with commercial interior and product design talent. Meanwhile, here are some key trends and décor ideas to elevate your reception.

Lighting matters

While not strictly decorative, light is essential to the reception area’s overall look and feel. And in recent years research into the benefits of daylight in the workplace has prompted many businesses to prioritise it. For instance, in one US study of 1,600 people, 70% said access to natural daylight improved their work performance, and it was also rated the most important workplace feature.

Maximising natural light in a reception could be as simple as removing blinds or rearranging furniture. HM Architects advises diffusing any resulting glare or heavy shadows with frosted glass and lighting softboxes.

Adding in some artificial light can create warmth or make a statement. Even fairly simple tweaks can be impactful: for instance, installing oversized, unusual, or clustered ceiling lights, or fitting accent lights or coloured LED ropes that backlight or underlight a reception desk or company logo, or echo elements of a business’s logo design or brand colours.

Lighting can take centre stage in a reception décor scheme. Design studio Acrylicize created a light feature in a Farringdon workspace reception inspired by the area’s underground river. Hundreds of LED batons pulse, making light “flow” from the reception into the interior, and naturally guiding visitors.

Communicate with colour

A new colour scheme is a straightforward way to give an office reception a clear, compelling identity. A popular décor idea for receptions is bringing key brand colours into feature walls, flooring or furniture.

Another approach is using tones that resonate strongly with consumers. Global trend forecaster WSGN names Apricot Crush, a warm mix of coral and pink, as its key colour for 2024. It claims this shade elicits optimism, encourages creative thinking and adds vibrancy to a space.

Contrasting and even clashing colours, especially bold and bright shades, are used by some companies to express their support for social inclusion and a diverse workforce. While neutrals and white make a reception area feel bigger and lighter, these can also feel sterile. However, they can make bursts of high-impact colour sing; WSGN’s other featured shades for 2024 and into 2025 are Midnight Plum and Intense Rust.

“Resimercial” lobby décor

This hybrid trend imports certain elements from home interior design to promote a sense of well-being and comfort – it has gained ground with the post-Covid move back into offices. In terms of décor in the reception, this could mean adding upholstered velvet sofas, rugs, cushions, and coffee tables. Online fashion retailer ASOS London reception, for instance, includes a mix of vintage furniture.

Stand-out branding

The reception or lobby is the obvious location to showcase the logo, make key statements or create another brand-led focal point. A lightbox instantly makes a logo more eye-catching and can be an effective messaging tool. Astra Zeneca’s UK reception features lightboxes displaying key achievements. Materials like aluminium, wood, and neon will also create drama.

To beef up branding in the lobby of North London-based sports analysis company Hudl, Rap Interiors designed a bright orange 3-D acrylic logo, together with stainless steel signage for a corporate feel; for an engineering client it created a glass partition etched with an image of the client’s most prestigious London project.

Elsewhere, Miles & Lincoln’s laser-cut panels are often used on reception desks and walls (for instance to create a 3-D map of the Thames for one client). But one project is a striking repeating ceiling feature in the London reception of an international bank. Explore their projects here

Sustainable style

There’s plenty of research indicating that supporting social and environmental goals has increasingly significant business value. The Global Sustainability Study in 2021 concluded that for consumers sustainability will continue to become an expectation, not an exception. Read the study here

Décor in the reception can visually signal a business’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint – and actually help to do so. Some furniture manufacturers source raw materials sustainably (for instance, look for Forestry Stewardship Council certification). Purchasing secondhand is another option. The Renew Centre repairs and remodels office furniture including upholstery and reception desks.

Design collective Spared creates bespoke furniture and decorative objects primarily from consumer, construction and plastic waste diverted from landfill – including countertops made from oyster shells and reception desks made from old DVDs.

Living décor

Connecting workers and visitors to nature and natural materials in the workplace is another growing trend that lets businesses show they are mindful about their people’s mental and physical well-being. A University of Queensland study found that introducing more greenery can grow productivity in an office by up to 15%.

Specialist provider phs Greenleaf claims that placing plants and flowers all around a building can have positive effects. Greenery can also be integrated into furniture such as reception desks. (Its rental plants include maintenance.)

It also advises that receptions can be an ideal location for a fully planted living wall, due to their space and natural light. Where these are limited, smaller living panels or dividers can work well, while moss walls need little light, water, or maintenance. Plant Plan can even create a logo in moss, and has a useful online design and budgeting tool.

Experiential art

The right artwork or photography is more than a pleasant distraction; it can communicate essentials about your brand and mission, create an emotional response, or raise intriguing questions. According to one Australian study, some key benefits of art in workplaces are that it promotes social interaction and personal connection.

What’s more, original pieces set a business apart visually. Using a curator enables businesses to collect or even commission artwork. Curaty, for example, is a platform linking artists and business that helps businesses develop a strategy, identify relevant work, and buy or lease.

Look out for more of a developing trend in commercial buildings: dynamic and interactive digital art. In the developer Brookfield Properties’ London reception, a large-scale, apparently simple artwork of flowers in a vase encourages viewers to experience its colours and blooms changing with the weather outside.

Commodity trader’s reception area features a huge curved ceiling installation that generates different images of weather, visualising real-life market changes. A driving force behind the concept is affecting people’s mood and creating a more collaborative environment.

Decoration for agile working

Rising rents, open plan offices and demand for more flexible working are prompting many businesses to consider new décor ideas in reception so the space can do more. Rap Interiors says with one client, reception furniture was chosen specifically so the space could also work as a valuable break-out area.

Office design firm Oktra replaced a Japanese-owned London office’s reception with a break-out café area to feel more relaxed and let visitors get experience the company’s work culture for themselves.

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