Balancing Beauty and Function

Commercial interior fit-up, bar, tasting room and custom furniture designed and built for Highball Social by Imhotep, a brand driven design and build firm based out of Vermont.

Every job we’ve tackled has offered us unique challenges. Rather than viewing these challenges as setbacks, we’ve taken them as opportunities to learn and grow. Though they often collaborate, builders and designers take different approaches to their work. Builders may prioritize function, favoring durability over all else, while designers place greater emphasis on aesthetics. Good interior design strikes a thoughtful balance between beauty and function, and as a design and build firm, we are able to see the value of both characteristics. That skill, however, has been developed over time, and as a growing company, there have been missteps that have served as learning opportunities to improve.

We’ve learned to recognize that some situations call for function over beauty, and we’re now better able to identify where we can take creative risks, and when we should exercise more caution.  Our responsibility goes beyond simply presenting clients with all the options— it involves communicating to clients the level of care needed to maintain design elements, and judging whether or not the element is appropriate for the space give its function.

Around the time we were working on Dedalus Wine Shop, we had been playing with white concrete as a material option. We had reservations about using it as the countertop for a stain-prone wine bar, but we brought the sample to the client anyway. We explained the high level of care needed to maintain the surface, but they had fallen in love with the aesthetics and for them, that outweighed practicality. We went ahead and fabricated and installed the white countertop. It looked beautiful in the space, helping to create balance between the rustic and modern elements. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, it has been difficult to maintain, and we’ve had to go back on several occasions and deal with stains or marking on the bar surface.

Looking back, it was unrealistic for us to expect that a rotating staff would always remember to take extra care of the surface, and we shouldn’t have offered it as an option. We cannot control what happens to our work once it is out in the world, so it’s important that we create elements that are durable so that they stay beautiful and functional for our clients and their customers.

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