Square footage is ever more precious as our urban areas grow ever more crowded. Cities with naturally occuring geographical restrictions – San Francisco, Hong Kong, New York (Manhattan) – learned long ago that when you can’t go out, you have to go up. Land is too valuable to devote to the single-level use of green space, and except for a few famous parks, the concrete canyons of the world’s major cities are almost completely lacking in greenery. That is, unless Spanish biologist/designer Ignacio Solano has been at work.
From childhood, Solano studied the symbiotic relationships among plants, fungi, and bacteria. In 2007 he developed a successful method of gardening vertically using the natural interdependence of the botanical ecosystem. Patented in 2010, Solano’s vertical gardens were immediately commissioned by forward-thinking architects in Europe and South America. One of his most notable installations covers the surface of a high-rise building in Bogota, Columbia, as seen in this photo. A model of efficiency and automation, the garden utilizes grey water from the apartments combined with a system of sensors that monitor moisture, and distribute and recycle water.
Crowded urban spaces aren’t the only beneficiaries of a vertical solution. Businesses, too, can expand into unused overhead space within their offices or warehouses by installing a vertical storage system. These ingenious automated carousel systems increase storage capacity while conserving expensive floor space. And because there are no ladders or manual overhead lifting, a vertical carousel system actually improves employee safety. All these features add up to significant savings.
By utilizing the space overhead, you’re really decreasing another kind of overhead – the kind that contributes to your bottom line. Get in touch with a storage consultant to see if vertical is the direction your business should be looking.
Photo © Vita Vilcina
As a business manager, the twin pillars of design – form and function— may not be at the top of your priority list, but design has a profound influence on everything you do, from your business space to your computer screen to your office or warehouse storage. Good design improves productivity and supports sales. Bad design can drive away business. How do you create good design?
First impressions matter, no question. We’ve all been told to dress for success, and your business is no different. A well-designed professional appearance supports your company’s reputation for competence and experience. Whether it’s in the physical space or online, design tells customers whether you’re trustworthy and professional. An amateurish website and user interface will create doubts in a customer’s mind. In the real world, your office’s interior and exterior design will have the same effect on your customers. Doubts about your business will ultimately hit your bottom line.
Good design requires attention to form AND function, and there is a direct link between good functional design and high productivity. To determine whether your business is designed to function well, ask yourself these questions:
- Do your offices support and facilitate teamwork?
- As production needs change, can you easily reconfigure workstations for new production needs?
- Are documents and products easy to store and easy to retrieve?
- Is your space used efficiently, to minimize your real estate footprint?
- Can you track assets and inventory without laborious hand-counting, and can you fill orders efficiently and accurately without labor-intensive hand-picking?
- Are your teams working in safety and security?
If you answer Yes to most, or all, of these questions, your business has the kind of functional design that leads to continuous improvement and maximum profits. If you don’t have these productivity tools in place, poorly-functioning design could be dragging your company into the red.
But don’t feel as though you have to become a design expert in addition to all the other business skills you’ve developed. From interior designers to software engineers, landscape designers to office furnishings and storage experts (like us), design professionals will analyze the unique needs of your business and create the optimal blend of form and function. You’ll not only stand out from the competition, you’ll deliver better, faster, and more profitably.
Photo © xixinxing/Fotolia.com