WOMEN IN OFFICE DESIGN – Gurvinder Khurana
Monthly Column By Women in Office Design
This month’s Women in Office Design column features Gurvinder Khurana, Director & Co-Founder at align.
Birmingham ‘born and raised’, Gurvinder initially intended a career in fashion and textiles but switched direction and qualified with a BA in Interior Architecture and Design from The Polytechnic of North London.
Starting Her Career
Gurvinder began working on kitchens and bathrooms with CP Hart before moving into workspace design. “I have to be honest and say at that time in the mid 90s, I wasn’t hugely excited by the sector, because so many schemes were prescriptive and formulaic, essentially about the number of workstations you could fit into a particular space. It would be fair to say it was the poor relation of the design world at that time, but oh, what a transformation we’ve seen since! I now think it’s one of the most dynamic and interesting areas of design, with major cultural and sociological dimensions in terms of where and how we want to work.”
Gurvinder’s Current Role
Together with her husband and co-director Nigel Tresise, Gurvinder runs align, a boutique design agency, which they founded in 2012. They are specialists in workplace but like to work widely both across different client sectors and also other areas of design, including mixed-use, hospitality and residential.
What is the industry doing right now to positively impact the careers of women? And what can it do better?
“There’s still plenty to be done to reflect the real world make-up better at board level, especially in the real estate world, to include not only women but minority groups too. We also need to offer more flexibility around family life, though these options shouldn’t essentially be gendered but offered to all parents. The Scandinavian model is way ahead of us in this domain.”
What are the current topics or trends within workplace design which excite you?
“The topic firing me up the most right now is the huge potential of sustainability.
As designers, we need to be pro-active and encourage a truly circular economy where we work to give all waste a purpose and function.
We need to build with better environmental consideration at all times, from local-sourcing and local economy stimulation to creative re-use, building adaptation, upcycling and recycling. The potential to do this well and create beautiful mixes of the old and the new is what excites me most.”