7 Alternative Solutions to Ugly Cubicles

We’ve all seen them—the felt-covered, morale-draining eyesore of the traditional office cubicle. Not only does the sight of them set off anxiety and internal discomfort, but their dated existence can also have an effect on your company’s perception to the outside world.

Although cubicles can be an inexpensive way to partition open offices into smaller, semi-private work spaces, recent years and technology have brought new ways of thinking about office organization, making it possible to rid the world of ugly cubicles forever.

1 | °secret’air by objetb’art


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The °secret‘air provides a self-contained workspace made out of a single piece of molded plastic. This design features a seat, desktop, and a vertical area for memos, giving workers their own private workspace.

Scattering a few of these around can give people the flexibility they need in their work environment, offering both privacy and a sense of community.

2 | Echopanel Platoon Modular Screen System by Kirei


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Need more options for compartmentalized space? This modular panel system from Kirei is definitely a solution.

This design works like your typical cubicle, but with many more options and better style. You’ll be able to craft an office organizational system that is flexible enough to fit your space’s needs – and won’t need to sacrifice style.

3 | Office in a Box by Toshihiko Suzuki for Kenchikukagu


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The best thing about a mobile workstation like this one is its ability to shift, rotate, and move it around in accordance with the changing needs of your office. This Office in a Box simply folds up like a suitcase, latches together, and rolls anywhere you need to go.

4 | Office in a Bucket Inflatable Office Pod by inflate


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For an easy setup, and something a bit different, you should look into the Office in a Bucket. The creation of the OIAB was a “direct response to an overwhelming number of requests we had for pop-up breakout spaces.”

This portable workspace inflates into a circular room to be used as an acoustically and visually separate office pod or meeting room.

5 | Spiral Stack Workstation by RISD


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This impressive maze of jagged, interlocking furniture pieces comes from the Rhode Island School of Design. The Spiral Stack Workstation is a portable office with a series of L-shaped pieces that rotate about a central post.

These pieces can be configured in different ways to provide a multitude of options. When not used, the workstation can be flattened against the wall, becoming a work of functional art.

6 | Solar-Powered Outdoor Workspace by Mathias Schnyder


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There’s nothing better than taking your office space outside. These self-contained pods not only allow your employees to enjoy the sun, they also use solar energy for power.

7 | Focus Dividers by Note Design Studio


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These dividers are great if you’re looking for the visual appearance of segregated space, but not necessarily the acoustic or experiential constraints that come with having a cubicle. They can be easily curved and bent to meet any design, and the round edges help soften the workspace.

Open offices have been a trend for some time now, and as we’re coming up with new and more efficient designs for these spaces, it’s crucial for designers to have an arsenal of great looking options in mind. Cubicle farms are a thing of the past, and today’s office culture demands workplace designs that are productive – but full of personality.

Inspire Your Design With These 7 Wall Treatment Trends

You’re planning a new space and have the perfect design in mind. Floors, furniture, artwork, and accessories—it’s all laid out and ready to go. There’s just one detail you can’t pin down: what on earth are you going to do with the walls?

Designing an interior space comes with endless opportunities to showcase personality, creativity, and mood. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders, but what happens when you want to turn your room into a statement piece that stands out from the crowd?

When it comes to modern-day design, nothing is off-limits. If you really want to create something different and make a lasting impression on guests, consider what you’re doing with your walls.

Marbleize It

From countertops to desk accessories, we’re finding marble everywhere these days. The latest surface destination in marbleization? Your walls!

You don’t need a huge budget to get this look. While actual marble walls can add a rich element to bathrooms and living spaces, a similar (and less expensive) result can be achieved with wallpaper. Nervous about scraping off layers of paper and paste during a future remodel? There are removable wallpaper options that make it easy to install, reposition, and remove.


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Traditionally-Inspired Tile

Tile has been used prominently for ages, and for good reason. This popular method of decorating floors, walls, and other surfaces adds instant visual interest and is extremely versatile. Depending on the material, shape, and color, tile can be used in just about any decorative situation.

Consider the environment you’re working with. While porcelain tile is water-resistant and easy to clean (great for bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes), elaborate terracotta tile brings a regal, European vibe to traditional designs.

For a more contemporary look, innovative products like EchoPanel Mura tiles interlock to create three-dimensional effects in a variety of design spaces. Trying to pick the best material for your project? Choosing a product that serves double-duty as a sound buffer or LEED-qualified material will help you check multiple boxes off your list of design requirements.


Liven Things Up

Looking for ways to bring the outdoors inside? Get literal with your organic design and create a living wall!

Comprised of real plants, living walls not only add a green flourish to your space—they can also improve air quality and reduce indoor heating and cooling costs. Select seeds or plants that thrive well with little maintenance (succulents and ivy are great choices), and consider installing special “grow lights” to assist with plant health. You can also install living walls near large windows or skylights to maximize the amount of natural sunlight that streams inside.


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(Modern) Wood Paneling

If the term “wood paneling” conjures memories of the outdated, floor-to-ceiling monstrosity that was all the rage through the 1970s, you’re not alone. The wood paneling trend of the past has earned the unfortunate reputation of being an eyesore—something to get rid of or paint over.

When done right, however, wood paneling has the potential to look fantastic and even modernize commercial and residential spaces.

The key to achieving this look is to use high-quality materials with different tones and textures. Pick one wall to serve as an accent, and try layering your design in an unconventional way (e.g., alternate wood panels in an interesting pattern, rather than covering your walls with a played-out vertical sequence). Use contrasting colors for surrounding walls, furniture, and floors.


Consider Corrugated Metal

This roofing and siding material isn’t just for outdoor construction! Corrugated metal is a great choice when it comes to designing industrial-style interiors.

Choose shiny pieces for a touch of sheen, or go with more muted metal for an authentic look that pairs well with Edison-style bulbs and reclaimed wood shelving. Be sure to keep the metal to just a wall or two, however, or you’ll add extra noise to your room.


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Design with Your Photos and Memories

In an era where great photography is more available than ever, there’s no reason to narrow your artwork to a few select pieces. Instead, ditch the frames and cover your walls with a mega-sized collage of photos!

To keep it classy and not cluttered, try all black-and-white prints or keep colors in the same tonal family. Arrange a combination of close-ups and landscapes, keeping subjects simple and backgrounds as clean as possible. Keeping all photos to the same crop ratio will also keep the finished composition more uniform, achieving an eye-pleasing effect.

Want a more streamlined look? Choose canvas or wood prints over paper, and play around with larger sizes. Regardless of the method you choose, all of your prints should work together for a seamless effect that looks as good from across the room as it does up close.


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Make a Memo Board

Transform an empty wall into the focal point of your design with a larger-than-life cork bulletin board, or cover your surface with dry erase or chalkboard paint. Menus, calendars, notes, and illustrations are all fair game when your room is a giant blank slate.


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Bottom Line: Stay True to Your Design

Whether you choose one or more wall covering trends or simply a fresh coat of paint for your space, remember the goal of your design and what you want to communicate. A cohesive plan will put the focus on the entire room, not several individual elements. Draw up a plan, jot down your priorities (and intended focal points), and use this roadmap to create your unique vision.

Finding Better Acoustic Ceiling Solutions for Commercial Spaces

Whether you’re an architect or designer, it is crucial to include products and elements that will help you control the interior acoustic environment of your projects.

How sound travels in and around spaces can have a drastic effect on its functionality. Gaining control of your auditory domain means gaining control of how people perceive and remember the experience of being in your office or place of business.

Start With The Ceiling


The most common place to start controlling your acoustic performance is the ceiling. It’s easier to manipulate the dispersion and resonance of sound from a place of verticality, where a change in dimension won’t negatively impact the usable floor space of your interiors.

The ceiling can be fitted and fixed without removing valuable square footage from your space, and there are a variety of established ceiling products and design strategies out there, for any acoustic issue a designer might run into.

Issue: Echo effect caused by large rooms or tall ceilings.


Tall ceilings are great for natural light, expansion of space, and for cultivating a grandiose, open-air design sensibility. However, they can wreak havoc on the acoustic performance of commercial spaces, due to the extra time it takes for sound to bounce back to your ears. This is what causes the phenomenon known as echo.

Dropped ceilings are the best way to start strategically controlling the travel distance of sound. You’ve probably seen dropped ceilings before and never realized it—most notably in the form of dated off-white ceiling tiles in your average office building.


Issue: Transfer of upstairs noise through a floor system.


Noise transfer through floors can be a real pain – anyone who has lived in an apartment complex can attest to this. Most older floor systems weren’t built with acoustics in mind, but there is something you can do about it yourself.

A great (and attractive) way to deal with floor-to-floor sound transmission is to install a suspended coffered ceiling system. A coffered ceiling consists of dropped beams and infill panels that create a geometric grid—a style that will make your interiors appear as if they were from ancient Rome.

Dropping the coffered ceiling below resilient channels will create an acoustic buffer that will effectively muffle most upstairs noises. The coffered ceilings also help diffuse and more evenly distribute noise coming from the room itself.

Issue: Lack of acoustic privacy caused by open offices or expansive interior spaces.


There are a lot of commercial spaces headed towards ‘open-concept’ these days, so much that you might even be experiencing a bit of open-concept fatigue. While open spaces have a lot to offer in terms of functionality and community, they typically aren’t conducive to acoustic privacy.

In offices and restaurants especially, it’s important to create segregated spaces used to meet and talk with a feeling of privacy. This can be achieved both visually and acoustically by a strategic change in ceiling material.


Installing a slatted wood or acoustic panel ceiling treatment diffuses sound in the desired zone. Couple this treatment with a system of partitions, and you’ve created a node within the open space that isn’t as removed as an office behind a locked door.

Issue: Ugly acoustic tiles are ruining your life.


Acoustic tiles have certainly served their purpose. There’s a reason they’ve managed to stick around as long as they have—they are an inexpensive solution for buildings trying to hide pipes, conduit, and ductwork while providing a suitable acoustic environment. However, with the amount of alternatives available today, there’s no reason to revert to an outdated solution for acoustic comfort.


There’s a new wave of acoustic ceiling products that come in a wide range of colors, textures, and material expressions. Most of these products are easier than ever to install, making your commercial space one step closer to a better acoustic experience.

5 Ways To Use Natural Products In Design

Whether you’re a minimalist or love all things bold, today’s interior design landscape spans across a variety of styles. There’s an ongoing industry shift toward using natural products that makes the planning process even more exciting, eliminating the need to choose between sustainability and pleasing aesthetics. Picture it: a beautiful layout that’s also environmentally friendly. You really can have it all!

Thanks to modern technology, we have the ability to use natural products in ways we only imagined. Feeling inspired? Check out these five ways to use natural materials for your next dream design.

1. Natural Wood & Bamboo


Walls, floors, furniture, you name it—the look of natural wood is back and better than ever. While our eyes have been trained to look past “imperfections” like knots and inconsistent grain patterns, using natural wood as a focal point teaches us that so-called “flaws” can be beautiful.

Allow this natural material to stand front-and-center – you can use it in custom cabinetry, countertops, and statement art pieces (it’s not just for frames!). By incorporating the look of natural wood into your space, you’ll bring a feeling of warmth and craftsmanship to any room, no matter how modern the styling may be.

To get the natural wood look while reducing impact on forests and landfills, consider an environmentally friendly wood substitute like bamboo. Both fast-growing and durable, bamboo is incredibly renewable and can be transformed into a product that offers a similar visual interest to wood grain. Use textured bamboo panels to achieve a midcentury modern look and mix different shades (light, medium, or dark) to create a multi-dimensional space that’s both striking and classy.

2. Copper Accents


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It adds just the right amount of sheen to any design plan, but don’t let this natural element fool you. Functional as both a neutral and a metallic, copper is a chameleon when it comes to design.

Incorporate exposed copper pipes into your space, hunt down a great copper light fixture, or go big and have a large centerpiece professionally plated. This will help cut costs from using solid copper and give you unlimited options when it comes to adding some extra flair to your design.

3. Decorative Tile


From fireplaces to front desks, decorative tiles add an element of polish to any basic surface. Whether you’re a fan of clay-based terracotta or reclaimed coconut, there are plenty of natural options out there to fit your style preference.

Choose a small, rounded pattern to create a beach-like feel or a matte, brick-like pattern for a more earthy look. Experiment with colors to create a bold contrast or a more demure, natural vibe—you’ll be amazed at the different impact each accent can make!

4. Geode Crystals

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From lamp bases to bookends, geode crystals have been popping up everywhere in interior design for the last several years. The natural sparkle these “fancy rocks” provide can instantly transform a stark space into a design fit for royalty.

For optimal visual interest, try incorporating crystals into unexpected areas (used as a colorful tabletop or mounted directly on the wall are great places to start). Get creative with your placement and have fun—the extra color and sparkle are sure to instantly upgrade any design.

5. Organic Textiles


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Cotton, wool, hemp, silk, and linen—organic textiles are too versatile to keep locked inside your wardrobe!

Adorn interior spaces with natural woven blankets, rugs, wall hangings, and other woven materials to bring warmth and comfort into your room. Mix bright colors to spark energy in high-traffic areas or stay within a neutral palette to tone down a bedroom or bathroom. The combination of different textures and fabric weights are also great eye candy in spaces that revolve around monochromatic color schemes.



Whether you’re updating an existing design or performing a complete remodel, the style and materials you choose should be a reflection of the space and people who use it on a day-to-day basis.

Toss aside preconceived notions (renewable materials aren’t just for specific “types” of design trends!) and use new products in ways you never thought of before. By “breaking the rules” and planning a space you love with materials you trust, you might inspire a few new design trends of your own!

Acoustics in Worship Spaces

Ever since we started building structures dedicated to the observance of a higher power, acoustics have played an important role in achieving the most ideal spaces for worship. Acoustics affect our perception of space and, in the case of a place of worship, that perception is often heightened by a sense of awe unlike any other environment.

If done right, acoustics in worship spaces can change the entire perception of a space. Think about the last time you walked into a place of worship during a moment of silence or solemn ceremony-the reverence of the congregation is almost tangible.

Then imagine that same space 30 minutes later, when the collective bellows of a singing assembly bounce around the space in joyful exuberance.

These effects are achieved by careful architectural planning and acoustics engineering. This planning includes the use of materiality, directionality, and the distance created between your ears and the surfaces that sound bounces off of.

All three components, as well as the source of the noise itself, contribute to how an architectural space “feels.”

Most people don’t think of acoustics affecting how they perceive space, but the auditory component of architecture cannot be ignored. This goes especially for worship spaces, where the quality and vibration of sound contributes to cultivating reverence and community.


The physical makeup of different building materials can have drastically different acoustic ramifications. For example, wood-slatted ceilings or walls soften incoming sound much better than stainless steel, or even drywall.

There are two major factors that contribute to a material’s acoustic properties: reflection and diffusion.

The wood slats have high diffusion and low reflection. This is in part due to the increase in surface area the slats create, and the softness of the wood itself. The result is a softened acoustic reaction, which can lead to the deadening of sound as it bounces off the material.

You will frequently find wood-slatted walls in worship spaces, because they function acoustically to create a solemn, quiet space, which helps foster a feeling of unity in the congregation.


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In a typical room, you have four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Acoustically, there’s nothing particularly life-changing about the way sound moves about the space. It’s predictable, and we’ve grown conditioned what to expect.

However, in specialty spaces such as churches, mosques, or cathedrals, the faceted pattern in wall and ceiling surfaces can lead to remarkable auditory experiences.

For example, these acoustic baffles from Kirei create opportunities for sound to jump and bounce around in interesting ways.

Acoustic engineers and architects can use directionality to project the unamplified voice of the speaker or choir, while simultaneously giving volume to the joint projection of the congregation. It takes a good knowledge of geometry to strike this balance perfectly, but this technique also relies on an understanding of how sound reflection works and how materiality contributes to the desired effect.



Just as important as materials used and directionality, is the distance sound must travel before it reaches your ears. The longer sound must travel, the more volume it loses as a result. Common sense, right?

Worship spaces often have incredibly tall ceilings. This acts to create an appearance fit for a spiritually important space, but also to allow sound to be collected and dispersed in a controlled manner to the congregation below.

In a sense, this process adds volume to the area’s sound distribution, resulting in a softness and fullness that reinforces the experiential impact of a worship space.


With these three primary concerns in mind, acoustic engineers work hard to establish a basis for executing their underlying concept for acoustics in a worship space. These decisions can’t be made in a vacuum, and should be carefully coordinated with the architect, structural engineer, and the client in order to deliver an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.

In the end, the space should reflect a message being conveyed by the spiritual construct of the worship space, and never be at odds with that invisible force.

If done right, the acoustics will disappear into the background and let your focus be pointed towards the reason we build worship spaces in the first place: a connection to something larger than ourselves.


7 Natural Materials Used in Modern Restaurant Design

Any restaurant owner knows it’s important to serve great food in order to stay in business. However, a solid menu alone isn’t enough to guarantee success in an industry that is as competitive as it is fickle.

That’s why restaurateurs put so much energy into making sure the aesthetic and ambiance of their space not only aligns with their culinary concept, but also elevates the dining experience. Think about the last time you read an online review for a restaurant—the environment and ambiance of an establishment make a huge difference in how favorably we perceive the experience. Your food might be cooked to perfection, but if the restaurant is too dark or the décor is outdated, you might still leave your experience with a bad taste in your mouth.

For many restaurant designs, architects and owners are choosing natural materials for their space, in order to soften the interiors and point back to the natural environment where their food itself is coming from. Because of recent trends toward sustainability and environmental responsibility, the demand for more eco-friendly, natural materials for a space has grown even more.

There’s a wonderful variety of natural materials and products available now, because of this growing demand: everything from bamboo to steel to reclaimed wood.  We’ll take a look at a few of them.

1. Sorghum Panels or Boards


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Sorghum can be a unique replacement for wood in a number of products, including furniture, wall panels, and boards. Sorghum grass is a natural resource, used by countries around the world, and the stalks left behind after harvesting can be made into any number of lightweight and durable design products.

Not only do these panels add a sense of inviting warmth to your restaurant, they are sustainably manufactured and can be used in achieving a LEED certification for green construction. They can be applied to casework, wall treatments, or even countertops.


2. Marble Slab


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Natural stone can be applied in any number of creative ways. Stone is commonly used as countertops or wall treatments, but restaurants have also used marble as a complement to other natural floor materials like wood or tile. Marble slabs for walls and bathroom counters can help tie the natural feel of the interior throughout the customer experience.


3. Blackened Steel


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For many restaurants, metal is where it’s at. Black steel provides the perfect natural contrast to softer wood materials, and make a strong statement about the overarching concept for the space. Steel can be installed as panels for walls or tables, and also used for specific accents like light fixtures or cabinet hardware.


4. Exposed Concrete


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Concrete is one of the most ubiquitous building materials on the planet. It’s primarily used as a foundation, but can also be used as an attractive, sturdy finish material. The easiest place to start is with the floor. An exposed concrete slab provides a distinct natural durability, perfect for the abuse a restaurant floor takes over its lifetime. It can be formed to create the countertop for a bar or the seat of a bench.


5. Glass


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Glass can be used in ways that not only add unique aesthetic character, but create a layering transparency that plays with light and gives the illusion of expanded space.


6. Reclaimed Wood


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There are salvage yards all over the world that sell wood that has been reclaimed from demolished structures and lumber yard garbage heaps. Getting wood for floors, walls, or tabletops from one of these salvage distributors not only adds unique visual flair, they come with a story. Reclaimed wood is sustainable, and where it comes from is almost as interesting as what it looks like in your restaurant. People love a good story, and will come back for seconds if they feel a connection to the experience, even if it comes in the form of a creative accent wall.


7. Bamboo


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Bamboo has quickly become one of the most widely used finish materials for restaurants, and it’s easy to see why. It grows like a weed, thrives everywhere, and is strong enough to be perfect for a wide variety of design applications. These bamboo panels by Kirei can be used for wall treatment, flooring, or countertops. Bamboo boards are engineered to last forever, and give any restaurant design a bright, warm, natural character that isn’t easily forgotten.


Designing a restaurant comes with its own challenges, but for the sustainability-focused owner or designer, finding the right materials doesn’t have to be a headache. There are as many types of natural products available to designers as there are ideas for using them.


Liquid Advertising values dynamic thinking, so Verdego Design was tasked with designing a creative space that reflected their Los Angeles coastal roots and a clean, modern look. Read entire case study here.



In redesigning Ultimate Software’s office space, P2 Interiors looked to maintain open areas for collaborative work while addressing potential acoustic issues in a large open space. Read entire case study here.