Those Damn Light Switches! Or Why Design Matters.

Thoughtful design is everywhere - in the products we use, the offices where we work, and of course, the places we call home.  At my company, we focus on the finishing touch to any great office design: artwork. Here I want to tell a brief personal story, not about artwork, but about what happens when you underestimate the importance of seemingly small design details.

Last year, my wife and I had the good fortune of finding a rundown old house in a fantastic neighborhood.  As an entrepreneur, I, of course, saw nothing but opportunity, so we took on a complete gut renovation.  For me, this was a crash course in the importance of truly thoughtful design.

We had a great architect who helped us think about the fundamentals, and we couldn’t have done it without her. However, because my wife and I wanted to make the house our own, we chose to do a lot of the design work ourselves.  Wow, did we underestimate what we were getting into!

Our kitchen is one area where we met with success. We spent hours designing and redesigning it. Our architect got us started with the basic layout. Then, my wife and I took over.  We talked through the various ways we’d use the kitchen and considered alternative designs. We planned our island layout to encourage conversation. We planned appliance locations for ease of access. We planned the use of each cabinet and every section of counter. Now that it's finished, it's wonderful. Everything feels like it's right where it belongs. And, even better, the kitchen is a comfortable, inviting space where friends and family love spending time together.

With the placement of light switches, we didn’t fare so well.  (Have I mentioned it was a big project?)  Well, on the day that I walked the space with our electrician, I was pre-occupied with issues that seemed more important at the time.  We went from room to room - no walls up yet, just 2x4s - deciding where to place light switches so that he could start wiring.  It was overwhelming (I'd never realized how many light switches are actually in a house…), and as a result, I made hasty decisions taking only proximity to walking paths into account.

A few weeks later, the walls went up. We moved into the house and on to decorating. I immediately regretted how little I considered the placement of the light switches. At least five are located in the middle of walls that would otherwise be perfect for artwork, mirrors, or furniture.

It is often said that good design feels invisible, but bad design stands out. I couldn’t agree more now. The details really do matter. If you try to 80/20 design, you’re going to feel that 20 percent every time you interact with whatever it is you’ve created.


If artwork might be the finishing touch to your office design, we'd love to hear from you. And if you'd like to learn more about how artwork can impact your workplace, check out our ebook below:


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