Designed to Overwhelm

Ah, job interviews. Arriving in a strange part of town with no prior knowledge of bus routes or parking options, exchanging pleasantries, and attempting to competitively sell your time and skills within that dynamic while pretending you’re simply ‘having a casual chat’… what’s not to love?

Last time I went to one, the location was smack bang in the CBD, and the place positively overflowing with the latest interior design trends for offices. Melbourne locals might not think twice about this, but for me, a recent grad from Ballarat, it really got inside my head. My thoughts quickly spiralled into questions around whether I had sufficient knowledge of workplace etiquette, and whether I should just call it quits while I was ahead (that is, before I’d gotten past reception).

It all worked out in the end, and I’ve been a research analyst at the National Seed-Saving Council for several months now. If I’d listened to that voice in my head, I’d probably still be boxing organic groceries at the Green Gourmand. It got me thinking about the psychological implications of office fitouts. For Melbourne businesses, this is worth thinking about, because designers here are so on the pulse with what’s new that it’s all too easy to forget how it will be received.

To be clear, I’m in no way against designer offices. Now that I’ve gotten used to this one, I’m actually pretty into it, although I do have to wonder how a non-profit seed-saving racket is able to have a site as stylish as all this (I just try not to think about it and hope it’s not funded by a pharmaceutical biotech company). My point is more that interior design can be applied for different outcomes, and determining what those outcomes will be before starting the design process is important.

I guess that’s what designers do as a matter of course, and they probably don’t have nervous interviewees mapped out as their primary end users.