Friday, December 10, 2010

2010, A Year in Review with KSA Interiors

“If you have knowledge,
let others light their candles in it.”
Margaret Fuller (1810-1950), American journalist, critic, and advocate for women’s education and the right to employment.

At KSA, we could not agree more! 2010 has been an eventful year for the KSA team. We have had the opportunity to participate in some amazing activities with our clients, our colleagues, and our professional design organizations. Our team continues to learn more about our ever-evolving industry and strives every day to share this knowledge with our clients and teammates.

As the holiday season approaches, our team would like to take this opportunity to share our experiences with you. We hope you enjoy this review of 2010!


Strategic Planning and Professional Development

“By enabling individual growth through self assessment, goal setting, and education, employees will become self-motivated to enhance their personal professional development and KSA’s development as a whole.”

Following the goals determined in our Strategic Planning Retreat, the KSA Interiors team developed four internal task forces to work together to promote standards in Professional Development, Communications, Design Processes and Procedures, and Office Processes and Procedures. Each task force collaborated to build the KSA roadmap to enhance the quality of KSA’s professional service knowledge and business operations.

If you have visited our office this year, you may have noticed one of the first projects completed by the Professional Development and Communications task forces. The simple but brilliant addition of categorized end caps to our product and resource library has not only been an impactful tool to better organize our heavily trafficked working space, but has also served as a space for information sharing internally and for our office visitors!

The informational categories are:

Gifts for the Community with Toys for Tots!!

With a company packed full of creative minds and big hearts, KSA was in search of a way to give back to the community during the holiday season. After putting our heads together, we came up with a solution that has provided gifts for children in need during the holidays while enhancing our team culture.

Each year, the KSA team transforms our company holiday gathering into an opportunity to donate to the community while learning and sharing about each other. In November, each KSA team member draws the name of a fellow co-worker and purchases a toy that depicts that individual. The drawing is kept anonymous to create an energetic buzz of curiosity leading up to the day of our holiday gathering.

After the anticipation has been building throughout our office, we gather for our holiday lunch and get to enjoy guessing which toys personify which team members. From individuals' quirky favorite characters, childhood stories, and hobbies, the toys purchased always come with an entertaining presentation! After all of the gifts, stories, and laughs have been shared, KSA collects all of these toys and donates them to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

The Gift of Design

Inspiration can be found throughout all walks of life. You may happen upon it walking through a local park, visiting a museum, or on your drive home from work. Every day our team is truly INSPIRED by the clients we have the pleasure of working for, the colleagues we enjoy teaming with, and the projects we love working on.

We would like to share with you a selection of fun facts, articles, and images that our team has collected this year. Hopefully, there will be a few magical pieces of information that spark inspiration in your hearts and minds this holiday season and in the new year to come. Enjoy!

Can You Imagine 20 Rooms in Just One Studio Apartment ?

"Urban dwellers worldwide dream of someday trading a studio flat for a spacious house. Hong Kong designer Gary Chang, however, has fashioned his 32-square-meter (350 square feet) apartment into a space that can transform into 20 separate rooms!" To read the original article, see photos, and videos visit !

The Quest for Defining and Designing for Basic Human Needs

" Each Monday and Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m., a small group of college seniors and graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design meet to discuss and question how design can be used to improve people's lives. The course is “Social Impact by Design,” taught by Professor Bruce Hanington. Design for social impact, although currently very much in vogue, is a nebulous area. During the course, we’ve had many discussions about definitions, especially the definitions of “design for social impact” and “humanitarian design.” Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, I believe they are not the same. Defining the difference, however, is not easy. The words are an attempt to describe movements in design that are organic and in a constant state of change." Dive into this intellectual deliberation on the impact of design and the definition of human needs via  Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Project Spotlight! The Learning Commons at VCU Cabell Library

“Learning doesn’t just happen in classrooms; learning also occurs outside the lecture hall. New strategies for enabling learning and accommodating the multiple demands on student time have led to rethinking the use, design, and location of learning spaces.” -

Embracing the demand for such critical changes in new learning environments, the VCU Cabell Library Team designed the Learning Commons to transform the second floor of the existing library into a destination for students to come together to collaborate, learn, and thrive. 

The entrance to the Learning Commons provides a hub for students to gather in a “home-like” environment that is enhanced with a hearth, flat digital screens, and special lighting features. The intimate, yet open feel was accomplished with lowered ceilings, rich colors, and lounge seating. 

The Learning Commons entrance is surrounded by a variety of group and individual seating options with flexible furniture that supports the transformation of group activities into break-out space. Private group study rooms are lined with white boards and mobile easels to support team learning. Computer access to data and power is implemented throughout the Learning Commons to allow for immediate workspace set-up. 

Though the library and learning commons combined encompass a massive amount of space, each workspace option maintains a sense of privacy. To accomplish this, the KSA design team used workstation screens, carpet patterning, and varied heights of seating and tables. In high traffic areas, carpet pathways and cafĂ© height tables were used to allow students less distraction from passers by.

As an integral part of the Learning Commons, the multipurpose room was designed to serve as a multi-functional classroom and computer environment with integrated technology. The multipurpose room furniture was selected to allow for flexible reconfigurations to adapt the room for lectures and assemblies or to accommodate open group study. The instructional configuration of the space required tables that would support groups of four students sharing a computer while maintaining a clear line of sight to the instructor. The KSA design team accomplished this by having computers nested on mobile carts that could be rolled away so the space could be easily changed for other activities. Implementing the principle of “form follows function,” the KSA design team used a polygon shaped room to enhance the line of sight between the students and the instructors. 

 To avoid confusion when navigating the Commons, signage and wayfinding were developed using angles, color separation, and specialty light fixtures that served as landmarks. A visual wayfinding beacon was created at the Learning Commons entrance hub. The wayfinding elements vary throughout the remainder of the Commons so students can distinguish the type of group or individual workplace options available to them.

As showcased in this project, KSA Interiors’ design team works with you from concept to completion of your project. Throughout our projects, KSA provides computer generated visual images to ensure the finished project is everything you envisioned and more.  We are proud to say the Learning Commons project has been a huge success based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the library staff and the students who are enjoying their new collaborative learning space! 

We invite you to visit VCU Cabell Learning Commons website to learn more and stay updated on coming events! You can also become a Fan of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library on Facebook.