Tuesday, 21 August 2018 08:26

The important role that seating and furniture plays in a reception area

    Tim Armitt, Managing Director at Lyndon by Boss Design, talks to Inex about the changing role of the reception and the importance of quality seating and furniture.

    Once a designated space for greeting visitors or guests and helping them find their way around the building, the role of the reception has changed dramatically in terms of its design and functionality; and this shift is being felt across both corporate and hospitality settings. Today, the reception is no longer confined to exclusively receiving visitors. Instead, when planned correctly, it can also perform as a business lounge, meeting space and an area for end-user relaxation.

    Whether stepping into a corporate building, or the foyer of a luxury hotel, apartment block or hospitality venue, the reception will always be the first point of contact that visitors have with the organisation. It’s the place where they will discover what defines the company or brand and its culture. Its role is key and as we all know, there’s never a second chance to make a first impression. However, whilst it’s important to make the space as aesthetically pleasing as possible, the choice of seating and furniture can dramatically enhance its functionality. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key considerations when designing welcome areas.

    From reception desks, to lounge seating, work booths, coffee tables, high tables, accessories and bespoke creations, there’s no shortage of furniture available. But what are the key trends for receptions? Is furniture more than just aesthetics in a corporate reception setting?

    Over recent years, there’s been a marked shift in the design of hotel and hospitality receptions. Take the hotel foyer, for example; it has had to become extremely multi-functional; from checking guests in and out to providing a social hub, information source, refreshment area, restaurant, cafe and even gift shop – this space has to tick many boxes. Also, as hospitality venues increasingly seek to fulfil the needs of their corporate clients and refine the guest experience, work lounges, telephone pods, meeting booths and touchdown spaces have also become a common sight in the modern-day reception.

    Making an investment in quality seating that balances design aesthetics with advanced ergonomics, functionality and practicality will always triumph. Modular soft seating is commonly found in hotel lobbies as it offers unrivalled levels of flexibility and can accommodate larger numbers of people. It’s also widely specified in high-use environments and relaxed open-plan areas such as shopping malls, educational, leisure and healthcare environments. It’s the versatility of modular furniture that makes it a winning choice, as it can accommodate infinite layout arrangements. It also meets the demands of large, small, awkward and even narrow spaces. Cleaning, maintenance and lasting durability are also key considerations for high-use environments where rips, tears and damage tend to be unavoidable. Rather than replacing an entire piece of furniture, it’s easier and more cost-effective to replace one piece within a modular seating arrangement.

    For all the same reasons, modular seating is also popular in corporate receptions as it helps the space take on a much softer and more intimate feel. Whilst hospitality is central to the user’s experience in this environment – ensuring that visitors’ waiting time is both comfortable and productive – it’s important to exploit the space to maximise efficiency and utilisation. For added vibrancy and energy, bold fabrics and colours can be used on the upholstery and to reflect a company’s corporate branding.

    The use of high-backed meeting booths in corporate receptions make it possible to hold short meetings there, as opposed to bringing visitors into the body of the organisation and occupying meeting spaces that could be used for more critical business activities. Equally, privacy booths and telephone pods are also becoming widespread; offering visitors the perfect place to make a private telephone call or comfortably escape surrounding distractions to focus on concentrated work, ensuring connectivity.

    Across both corporate and hospitality sectors, seating and furniture designs are being heavily influenced by technology. The reception is now a place where guests and visitors need to use their smartphones, tablets and laptops, and where meetings can be conducted in a relaxed environment. It’s important, therefore, to consider upholstered seating that boasts integral charging points for mobiles and laptops.

    Ultimately, the type of furniture chosen to grace the reception area will depend on the amount of space available, the kind of image that needs to be to conveyed, as well as the budget. By creating a multi-functional space that offers a range of furniture options, the reception can become a truly dynamic environment where visitors and guests can work, socialise and relax. Now that’s a warm welcome!

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    Inex magazine and its complementary website is the ultimate specification resource for design professionals working in both the domestic and commercial marketplaces.

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