Whether it’s a rectilinear grid of acoustic ceiling tile or fashionably exposed joists and ductwork, to many architects the ceiling is often a strictly utilitarian affair. Still, there’s no reason why a concern with function should keep the “sixth surface” from being beautiful. Indeed, some architects and designers are now looking for ways to incorporate the ceiling into their overall designs, while encouraging inhabitants to look up and find shape, movement, color and texture.
When Avery Dennison, a leader in packaging and labeling, upgraded its headquarters in Glendale, California, they wanted their workplace to better reflect their company culture. HOK architects was entrusted to lead the project; their primary task was updating the expanse of wall-to-wall private offices into something more stimulating. The aim was for shared spaces to have a natural flow and for an expressive ceiling to contrast with the straight-edged geometry of the building.
To accomplish this, HOK turned to Hunter Douglas Architectural. Across the multipurpose room and lobby stairs, HOK designed a layout that included a series of curved extruded aluminum beams. Each beam has soft arcs with varying radii that contribute to a random appearance. “The organic, ‘flowing water’ pattern of the ceiling juxtaposes beautifully against the geometric, orthogonal surroundings of the rest of the space. “It’s powerful without being overwhelming,” said Clay Pendergrast, Director of Interior Design HOK Los Angeles.
The Avery Dennison headquarters is just one example of how rethinking a purely functional view of ceilings can transform space, creating a central visual focus that keeps occupants looking up. In this New York coffeehouse for example, Hunter Douglas’ straight and curved beams allowed designers to extend their concept upward and reinforce the design elements in the rest of the room.
Other versatile options like the linear box series used in UNStudio’s Agora Theatre in Lelystad, the Netherlands, aid designers in creating unique, expressive spaces that break away from traditional layouts.
The Desert Sky Transit Center in Phoenix, Arizona, also placed emphasis on the ceiling as an essential design element. For the new hub, lead architect Dev Pawar from Architectural Resource Team selected the linear deep box exterior ceiling system in metallic green.
With new products to inspire them, designers are taking a more holistic approach to design, one that seeks to instill structure with identity. Especially exciting are the possibilities for creating engaging and original interior spaces. With ever-more-customizable solutions that need not sacrifice price, safety, or quality, we can look forward to looking up.
Article written by Estefanía Acosta de la Peña for Metropolis