The Design is in the Details

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-By John Boley

Founded in 1992, Marshall Kusinski Design Consultants is an award winning commercial interior design company based in Perth, Western Australia. Company directors Melanie Marshall and Kathleen Kusinski employ dynamic and experienced professionals working in a team-based studio environment. Services include building analysis, space planning and design, detailed design documentation, coordination of sub- consultants, project management and safety management.

The company is a member of the Design Institute of Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia. Marshall Kusinski recognises that its success depends on understanding what makes a company unique. Working in collaboration, the long-term corporate goals of each client can be implemented into flexible and functional solutions.

Delivering projects on time and on budget, Marshall Kusinski works with appropriate specialists including mechanical, electrical, communications and audio-visual consultants, graphic designers, quantity surveyors and even, says Kath Kusinski, feng shui masters.

If it ever was, feng shui is no longer a far-out ‘alternative-lifestyle’ practice. “It’s something inherent in good design – if you design well, you are really encompassing your feng shui principles.” So it’s the other way round from many people’s assumption – you don’t build feng shui into an existing design, you design properly and it’s there. In addition, though, “we do get Chinese clients from time to time who ask us to engage a feng shui master to work with us to make sure we are incorporating a few specific things in the plan”.

In fact, the whole concept of engaging design consultants to plan working environments has become very much a mainstream activity. “Businesses can’t afford not to have a well planned office these days,” explains Kath. “Primarily, in WA, staff retention is a huge issue. One of the things that’s top of the list, whether it’s in mining or engineering companies or an accounting office, [staff] are saying ‘we want an office that really works’.”

So a vibrant and dynamic workspace is far from being a luxury, or something the HR guys can rustle up on the back of a scrap of paper. “Certainly it’s not a luxury. The most expensive thing for any company these days is engaging new staff and getting them settled in, so if you can retain your staff it’s such a powerful thing.” It’s a potentially crucial advantage to be able to point to a working atmosphere that has been carefully planned to be ergonomic, peaceful and creative. It’s great, says Kath, if – when everything else is equal – staff take account of good facilities, great training areas, staff hubs and general comfort “and say ‘this is quite important’.”

There are a lot of pitfalls for any company planning changes to its environment, be it a refit or a completely new office. “When we do cultural change for a company, we start by examining how they are working now, then how culturally you will change in this new environment – how you work, how you will communicate.” It can be very unsettling for staff – especially some managers who have become accustomed to having their own office, their own little ’empire’ – to be thrust into a new and frequently open-plan environment. Marshall Kusinski takes care to manage the change; “dispelling myths about noise and so on is important. For some people, losing their office is losing their status within the company. But what we find is that often managers no longer need their own office as work becomes more interactive and dynamic.”

In terms of the services Marshall Kusinski offers, “we can do just design and consultancy, maybe working with an external party that does project management, but we can also do total project delivery, which is probably more of our work. Pulling in all of the technical expertise, engaging engineering consultants, services engineers, mechanical services. For anyone going into a new office, we can have a total package for them and both design it for them and project manage all the way through.

“It’s something I think companies can’t afford not to do. I really would like to dispel the myth that [engaging] a designer is more expensive. I think we deliver great value because there’s a transparency in what we are delivering in terms of cost. All the products and services that we specify for the client are passed on at cost, so for any fitout, any office, there are going to be base costs – walls, doors, screens, partitions, workstations, technology – data and power – and mechanical services.

The area which makes the difference between a good environment and not-so-good environment, Kath argues, is the finishing details – for instance, “you can have a chair for 300 dollars or 1,200 dollars and it’s a bit like a car – you do get what you pay for.

Marshall Kusinski works primarily in WA, but by no means only in and around Perth. Melanie and Kath frequently travel, to places such as Kalgoorlie and Port Hedland, and a recent project involved space planning for a mining giant in the Pilbarra. “One of the reasons that we have so much to offer in the mining towns and regions of WA is that we have been safety audited for our ‘safety management systems’ for Rio Tinto. This makes us ideal to design and manage projects in the North West in particular when safety is the first priority.”

With such a comprehensive safety program in place, it is clear that Marshall Kusinski Design Consultants is able to offer the complete package to its clients. From concept to execution, this is a firm that truly elevates spaces to the next level.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 14, 2020, 1:37 AM AEST