When you walk into an office space, you usually pick up a vibe. Part of it comes from the people—their tone, attitude, style and (often) stress levels. And part of it comes from the workplace environment—the colors, textures, layout, lighting and furniture.

What does the space convey? Does it express warmth, creativity, knowledge, playfulness, openness, seriousness, precision? Office environments can communicate all of these messages and many more. The designer’s choices play a pivotal role in shaping the scene.

Consider the choice of materials: Are you going for uniformity or diversity? There’s no right answer. It depends on the atmosphere you want to create. Uniformity of color, texture and materials can be soothing, reassuring and confidence-building, both for employees and for clients.

But too much of the same thing can be … simply too much. Monotony lulls the mind. It leads to boredom rather than engagement.

And most professionals these days are looking for office spaces that are more comfortable and less sterile. Spaces that inspire and engage. An office that feels more like home.

How to get there? One surprisingly straightforward way to transform a workplace environment from drab to appealing is to introduce variety in materials.

Mix it up: Pair wood with stone. Combine leather with fabric. Add texture to what’s smooth. Experiment with metal, glass, resins and composites. Take advantage of custom programs  to spec the exact color  or materials you want. (Scroll down for some examples.)

You might be surprised to see the compelling impact a simple material refresh can have on the workplace vibe.

Introducing natural materials, like wood table tops or stools, warms an environment and brings the feeling of the third place to the office. Above, Potrero415 table is shown with a solid oak top and paired with a new Enea wood stool, coming fall 2017.

New materials can give a piece of furniture a new identity. Shown at NeoCon 2017, the new Coalesse + Designtex fabric on Circa Lounge System and pillows provide a residential warmth to the workplace.

A textured heather fabric lends visual interest to this Visalia three-seater sofa with leather seat, back and arms.

The Montara650 Seating Collection offers refined upholstery options and infinite colors through Coalesse Color.

White marble graces the center of this custom ash Potrero415 table, shown here with upholstered chairs from the Massaud Conference Seating collection.

Who says tables and chairs have to match? Here the wooden Dining Table CH327 plays host to a group of carbon fiber LessThanFive chairs.

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