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Office Partitions Articles
How to Use Glass Creatively in Your Office

The widespread production and use of toughened and laminated glass for architectural purposes has opened up a whole new world of creativity in internal office environments. Shaping, colour, films and decorative treatments, lighting, and the combination of the glass with different frames are just some of the ways that the workplace itself has become inspirational and enjoyable. Much of the creativity focuses on glass office partitions and how they are presented. Here are some of the sources of creativity that I have observed in office environments.

Differences in Line, Contour and Shape of Glass Partitions

Curved glass can now be used to create stunning and unusual effects that divide up the office space in a highly creative way. The curve can be echoed in curved door furniture, and lighting can be used to highlight the whole effect.

Flush fitted frameless glass partitions from floor to ceiling can give a sleek, clean, open and tall feel to a space. Provided the area inside this space e.g. a conference room or internal office is kept tidy and furniture is used tastefully and sparingly, the whole space can feel more clam and organised.

Changing the Space on Demand

Demountable glass partitions highlight one special way in which glass is used to practically create more actual space as and when it is needed.

Lighting and Glass

Colours or tints in the glass can be exaggerated, highlighted, enhanced or projected by the clever use of lighting. LCD lighting or spot lighting can help to boost the visual impact.

Film or Treatments

Manifestation film can incorporate almost any images, colours and effects that are required to fit in with a particular design theme. Couple this again with decorative lighting and the whole effect can be literally stunning.

Etching or sandblasting can also be used to provide tidy decorative frosted touches.

Privacy Effects

There are types of glass or films available which react and change with an electric current. Imagine all of the panels which make up the boundary of a partition conference room changing from complete transparency to an opaque white effect at the flick of a switch. Not only does this mean that you can achieve even cleaner and tidier lines by not using blinds, but the lighting levels inside the room space are not negatively affected by the switch to opaque.

Blinds however can normally be integrated into the overall design of internal glass spaces in a very positive and creative way when their main purpose is in fact more of a functional one.

Entrances and Exits

Glass manually operated or automatic doors can be used to maintain the integrity of an overall look created by partitions. Equally a pleasant contrast can be created by using doors with wood veneer or decorative laminate.

It seems to me therefore that the materials and options available are fast catching up with creative ideas of commercial office designers, particularly where glass is concerned.

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Why Most Office Partitions Are Bespoke

Although today’s offices can incorporate design features and themes which have a huge spectrum of influences, there is still a basic functionality and work focus that is needed in an office. There are standard sizes to many components doors, windows, suspended ceiling tiles, and other aspects of office interiors, and similarities between many office layouts and sizes. Having said this installing office partitions is inevitably going to require what is essentially bespoke work for a number of reasons. Here are just some of areas which can govern or contribute to such customisation.

The Existing Office Structure

This obviously varies from building to building in terms of size, shape and layout. Partitions however are likely to be needed to accomplish the same things in any space such as to divide and compartmentalise larger areas in way that enhances the running of the business.

Solid, Glass, Folding or Sliding

There are now many different materials that are used in the construction of office partitions. Whether solid or glass the main panels will need to be cut exactly to size to fit the size of the space available within the proposed design. For example offices, reception areas and corridors can all be created to fit the individual space. Solid and glass partitions can be floor to ceiling. Solid versions can also be from the floor to the top of the door with a variety of options for the area above this.

Sliding and folding versions are also available, and by their nature they are intended to be flexible, and of course sizes and applications vary. This again adds a bespoke dimension.

The Panels for Solid Office Partitions

Apart form the bespoke cutting of the toughened glass to fit the space a truly bespoke aspect of a glass partition is what design, logo, lettering or image is featured on the manifestation film. The use of film on glass can not only be used to strengthen the branding, reflect corporate identity, or simply to enhance the visual aspect of the space, but also to prevent people from walking into what would be a large, clear expanse of glass.

The panels for solid partitions can also be given a variety of different colours, patterns and finishes such as coloured or patterned laminate or vinyl. Although a there’s likely to be fixed range offered by an installer, the combination of different glazing options and panels finishes adds a bespoke dimension to this.

The Frames and Joints

Solid partitions essentially fit into aluminium or steel frames at the top and bottom. Although there are standard sizes and types of frames the aluminium ones for example can have colour added to them. Rather than just standard colours any BS or RAL colour required by the customer can be added. This again adds a very obvious bespoke dimension.

Far from being standard sized, bland or practical looking, modern office partitions are largely bespoke constructions which can incorporate all manner of customer design preferences.

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How to Create a Glass Office Using Partitions

The last 3 decades have seen a rise in the increased and more imaginative use of glass to make up the majority of the outer surface area of new office buildings. This can create a spectacular effect, and advances in the strength, tinting and colouring of external glass means that privacy and design possibilities are not compromised. The use of glass, particularly in the last decade has been extended to the office interior. There has been a quest to create a division of office space for specific functions and roles but not to compromise the benefits offered by an open plan look and feel to the office interior. Toughened glass has proved to be an ideal medium to help achieve the balance between aesthetics, safety, hard wearing functionality, and affordability for the end buyer. What sort of features therefore make up the perfect glass internal office?

Creating this type of internal office effectively involves the imaginative use of glass office partitions. These are generally made of 10mm or 12mm toughened glass panels and doors. Doors made of other materials such as beech veneered doors can also be combined with the panels if required. For particularly clean lines, and to create a completely clear look to the office frameless glass doors can be fitted.

The transparency, aesthetics and clear lines of the glass partitions can be enhanced by the use of clear silicone or a clear glazing gasket between the panels. Also the whole structure can be made to blend more softly in with its surroundings by the use low key and unobtrusive slim tacks at the top and bottom. Since these are aluminium they have the advantage of being able to take colours. These colours can be matched to any BS or RAL colours and thus can be made to fit in perfectly with their surroundings, and perhaps to provide a soft blending of the edges of the partitions with the solid walls that they are attached to.

Advanced modern architectural glass art techniques are now used in the creation of office partitions e.g. through the use of film on glass. Film can be added to incorporate pictures, designs, logos, scenes, and to create all manner of decorative, branding, and frosting effects. Manifestation film also serves a serious safety purpose by making sure that people notice that there is glass panel there, thus preventing anybody from walking into the panel and injuring themselves. The thickness and toughened nature of the panels also serve to maintain safety standards.

Creating the perfect glass office is now a realistic and affordable possibility for many organisations through the intelligent use of glass office partitions and doors.

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Using Toughened Glass Partitions in Your Office

Many offices have at least some areas within them which include office partitions. These partitions can be temporary or permanent, can be floor to ceiling height or lower, and can incorporate rooms, corridors and glazed areas into the design. Many such partitions use solid panels e.g. PVC / plastic , MDF or even metal e.g. aluminium frames because they are flexible materials in terms of what can be constructed from them, and many different finishes and colours can be easily applied to them. For example, laminate finishes are popular, although materials such as silk can also be applied to solid panels to provide an extra element of aesthetic appeal. In recent years however there has been a high demand for glass office partitions, and for architectural glass art pieces, particularly in corporate offices and design / creative related industries.

Although essentially made from the same underlying material i.e. toughened glass panels of varying sizes, there is no real ‘standard’ glass office partition. In the first instance these panels are made / cut to measure depending on the area of the office they have to fit into. Strong aluminium tracks, which can be made in a variety of colours, provide the supporting, and unobtrusive framework. These tracks can also be carried on vertically from floor to ceiling, or for a cleaner line clear or crystal silicone can be used along the joints.

Glass partitions are not only good for the appearance of the office area, but because they are generally made from 10mm or12mm thick toughened glass. This means that they are more than capable of withstanding normal day to day impacts and contact. Manifestation film is often applied to larger clear glass panels to make them more visible, but film, and textured effects can also be added to the panels to improve aesthetics or to provide a frosted effect and with it a degree of privacy where it’s required.

Frameless glass doors, aluminium framed glass doors, or veneered doors can be used to maintain and enhance whatever design theme has been created with the main glass panels. Attractive and practical Individual office spaces, meeting and conference rooms, and reception areas for example can all be created using glass partitions.

Glass Partition Ideas

By their nature partitions divide an area of space into compartments and in the work setting this allows for multiple uses for floor space which would have had one use before. For example one use could be to create a reception and an office using glass. A full height toughened glass partition with veneered doors could be used to create a reception are with a feeling of space and plenty of light. In addition to this some solid sound rates full height walls could be used to create the office boundary. Both of these areas could be blended in to the office using panelling flush to the wall, a brand new suspended ceiling, along with new lighting, carpeting and an air conditioning system.

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Building A More Flexible Office Environment By Using Office Partitions

For a country with a high dependence on service industries an office environment is where many people spend most of their working life in the UK. Although budgets play a large part in deciding how, where and what offices are, there are many other aspects of an organisation which dictate what an office environment is ‘like’ physically, and what employees experience there.

Within the Solid Structures

The human elements and the actual business / the work at hand take place against a physical backdrop which is dictated to large extent by the nature of the work itself e.g. where there is a lot of talking and noise but individuals need quiet to talk and listen on phones then there is likely to be the use of partitions or barriers which offer sound insulation.

Many office buildings have a mixture of larger spaces with smaller individual offices around the outside of the office. These ‘solid’ offices can help with specific functions but can also be related to levels of hierarchy within the office e.g. having an office may go with a high ranking job and may be a status symbol.

The Symbolic Office

It could be argued that by developing a more open, transparent, light and aesthetically pleasing office space the organisation is providing a physical symbol of its attitude to its staff, its values in general, and its views on communication within the company and to the outside world.

The Flexible Office

The use of office partitions and particularly glass office partitions bring a huge amount of flexibility to a business, can create a positive and pleasant environment which feels more open, and can improve communications of all kinds within the company. For example high quality glass partitions can:

Allow more light to be distributed around the office despite physical separation of certain areas.
Allow greater visual communications which could benefit the business.
Present a pleasant and modern appearance which strengthens the company brand and image, and improves morale.
Make a single space something that can be open or private depending on the needs of the situation e.g. by using blinds with the glass.

Other Flexible Options

Office partitions can take many forms thanks to the use of modern materials and finishes. Folding and sliding structures can be used. Also the ‘solid’ versions of partitions can be made to a variety of heights with a variety of glazing and finishing options. Panels and supporting frames for partitions can be coated and coloured to suit the company’s requirements. Glass partitions can also incorporate pictures, designs, logos and words through the use of film on the glass.

Call Akenstone Berkeley on 0208 900 1128 or contact us online for more information.

The History of Office Partitions

Offices in the 1960s were very different in some ways, although there are still some common elements. The first 2 post war decades saw a large focus on psychological research of all kinds in the U.S. and the ‘office worker’ was no exception. This research however did lead to some lasting change in the physical office environment and formed the beginnings of today’s office partitions.

The Herman Miller Research Corporation in 1960 studied how offices functioned with the research being led mainly by Robert Propst. At that point in time many offices were using a purely open layout – many rows of desks in an open space with everybody able to see, and able to be seen by everybody else. There was a standardised appearance to everything. Propst’s research findings however indicates that in the modern office there was a lot more information for the individual to deal with than there had been in the past, and the open design wasn’t totally conducive to facilitating the handling and understanding of this information. The research findings indicated that people needed privacy and also need to personalise their workspace to an extent. They also needed a good degree of freedom of movement and what position they sat in to best fit the task they were trying to complete, and so they didn’t suffer physically from sitting in the same position all day long. Coupled with these findings it appeared important that workers individual movements didn’t distract others, and those workers weren’t distracted by those around them. The result towards the mid 1960s was the use of multi-sided mini divisions of office space to create what could be termed as work stations or cubicles. As well as contributing to more productive employees these also allowed the company to make the best use of the large floor space. Although the cubicle environment has had its critics over the years, it did legitimise and lead to the popularisation of its successor the office partition.

Today’s Office

The office of today mixes the pre and post 1960s ideas. For example there has been a move to a more open plan environment again, with the main difference being that people are generally allowed more individuality and freedom of movement within it. Office partitions can now take on many forms right from the solid office look – corridors, walls and doors – right down to clear glass walled spaces. Advances on the economic production and use of toughened glass as a legitimate internal furnishing has created some spectacular and aesthetically pleasing partition structures. Film on the glass can incorporate virtually any design, brand or picture, and although these partitions divide the space well, they provide fantastic insulation (temperature and acoustic) while maximising the amount of light than can flow though the office.

Call Akenstone Berkeley on 0208 900 1128 or contact us online for more information.


3 Ways to Improve the Office Environment

Updating and altering the office environment can be necessary for a number of reasons including changes in staffing / staffing levels, changes in business strategy and direction , changes in ownership / new premises, re-branding, or simply because it’s something that is long overdue, and has been planned for. The type and quality of working environment can have a big impact on for example, communications (helping or hindering), staff morale, staff comfort, business processes and their effectiveness, efficiency and energy costs. When an office environment for example is updated or improved the refurbishment work and its extent obviously relates closely to the specified needs of that particular organisation. There are however some popular services that office refurbishment companies provide, and this article looks at 3 of these.

1. Office Partitions

Installing office partitions (like Mezzanine Floors) is a way to make the best use of the space within the actual solid structure of the building. Corridors, office, reception areas and meeting rooms can all be created using a variety of modern materials, finishes and colours. Glass, sliding and folding, and aluminium and steel framed partitions with varied panels and glazed areas can all be designed and installed to exactly fit the space, function and existing design schemes. Toughened 10 mm and 12mm glass partitions set into strong aluminium tracks with clear silicone or gaskets joints, and glass doors can be used to cerate practical, impressive looking and flexible spaces. Artistic films and manifestation films can be used to add a visually pleasing and a safety aspect to these partitioned areas. Although these partitions are fitted safely and solidly in place they are obviously more flexible and allow for more changes than e.g. sold brick / block walls.

2. Mezzanine Floors

It is often the case that the basic solid structure of the permanent walls and floors can’t be changed for a number of good reasons e.g. conditions of the office occupancy / ownership, safety, difficulty or potential inconvenience, cost etc. Most businesses need to make the most of the space that they have within those structures. Mezzanine Floors are essentially an extra floor (with stairs to it) between 2 floors which doesn’t extend completely across i.e. the Mezzanine Floor, and the real floor below it both share the same ceiling. This is obviously only practical where there is enough vertical space to allow it. These structures are sometimes semi-permanent. They are typically constructed of steel, aluminium and / or fibreglass and often have decking structure with a practical and aesthetic flooring covering on the top that is consistent with the floor covering on the real floors e.g. wood / wood pattern flooring. These areas create extra space than can be used for everything from staff work station areas to storage.

3. Suspended Ceilings

As the name suggests suspended ceilings are attached / suspended beneath the solid structure of the underside of the floor above i.e. the real solid ceiling area. In many office environments a framework is fitted into which is slotted many removable square tiles. The tile / solid material of the suspended ceiling is often made of mineral fibre or mineral wool. This is because these materials are relatively easy to work with and install, and they provide the right levels of acoustic insulation, and thermal insulation i.e. they can save energy costs over time. These materials also have a good level of fire resistance as well as being resistant to humidity and different temperature changes e.g. when heating systems are turned off and on – humidity can warp and damage other materials. Plasterboard suspended ceilings can be sued where more versatility and a more seamless appearance is required. Metal ceilings can also be fitted for example where cleanliness and hygiene are of uppermost importance. Generally office suspended ceilings also provide an aesthetically pleasing surface which also reflects light well thus keeping energy costs down and making the environment easier to work in.

Call Akenstone Berkeley on 0208 900 1128 or contact us online for more information.

3 Key Benefits of Office Partitions

The popular services industry in the UK and the customer service and marketing parts of most modern businesses require the use of office space. Health and Safety legislation (and fear of litigation), the evolution of office interior design and fashions, and the increasing expectations of staff and customers make having good, and intelligent office interior design more important than ever. Since the parallel evolution of office partitions from workstation / cubicle structures to modern, modular and glass structures a memorable and productive physical office environment on any scale is now a realistic and affordable proposition for most businesses. Here are 3 key benefits your business can achieve by intelligently using office partitions.

Total Flexibility in How Spaces are Used

Not all office partitions are fitted into a permanent position. Where space is limited and has to used for the benefit of all for most of the time e.g. as one main open area, but private / smaller office areas are needed occasionally partitions can provide the answer. Folding and sliding partitions are perfect for this situation, and are easy to operate. Demountable glass sliding partitions also offer this great flexibility and balance in how office space can be used and manipulated.

Office partitioning also allows you to create more permanent individual offices / conference rooms so you’re not simply limited by the layout which were essentially inherited with the building.

Savings On Future Re-Fits and Design Changes

Although modern office partitions can be solidly fixed into the existing structure they are much easier and less disruptive to remove than solid block and plaster walls when it’s time for a change. The panels (which could be made from a wide variety of materials) simply need to be removed from the steel or aluminium frames.

Improvements in Communications and Management

Most modern office layouts favour large open areas where most people are based. The intelligent use of partitions can keep this feeling of space and involvement with / awareness of what’s happening in the office while allowing for privacy where needed e.g. a glass partitioned main office, or other demountable glass partitions and partitions not to ceiling height. Being able to generally see, hear and communicate with others in the main office area is an immediate improvement in communications on several levels. This generally visibility and inclusiveness also makes it easier for managers to manage and monitor staff.

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Creating Excellent Visual Effects With Office Partitions

Advances in glass manufacturing and convergences of different technologies, different industries and art itself have meant that it’s now possible to bring amazing visual effects into office environment. Taking toughened safety glass as the main structural component and combining it with other materials, objects, decoration and power sources can add a whole new inspiring and amazing visual dimension to glass partitions.

Manifestation Film and Graphics
The use of vector artwork created on computer and printed and cut on a large scale opens up a whole new range of partition possibilities. Film has long been used on glass in art and for safety / practical purposes (manifestation). Almost any design in full colour can now be made into large films that can be applied glass with stunning effect, and with lower costs and more design scope than etching or sandblasting.

Switchable Glass
This has taken partitions to yet another level of flexibility as it allows glass partitions to turn from transparent to opaque / translucent at the flick of a switch. It works by using a liquid crystal polymer that diffuses light unless it is switched to a state where it allows light to transmit through by passing an electric current through it. This system gives instant privacy when it’s needed e.g. in offices or conference rooms. It also saves the costs of buying and replacing blinds or curtains. It also possible with some systems to create a large flat projection screen from your office partition using this method.

Objects in Glass Units / Other Effects
Glass office partitions can now be made as sealed double glazed units but with a larger gap between. This gap area can now incorporate blinds which are in effect internal. Quite apart from creating a unique look the sealed unit stops dirt getting on the blinds and frees them from the contact wear and tear that normal office blinds are often subject to.

LED lights are bright, available in a wide range of colours, can be economical and don’t give off damaging heat. These can now be incorporated in glass partition panels of different shapes to create ever more amazing effects. Holographic patterns and effects where different colours and effects can be observed by looking at different sides of and at different angles to the glass can also now be incorporated into office panel design.

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The Modern Office Look

Today’s office environments go far beyond the faceless, functional admin factories of the past. There is now a lot more cross-over between design elements that could be found for example in a domestic setting, a hotel, a restaurant, or public building and the workplace. Similar interior design options for individual elements wouldn’t look out of place in each e.g. the flooring, the blinds, the ceilings, the lighting etc. An office refurbishment today achieves a modern look only through a balanced combination of elements that can produce an end result that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Some of the Main Elements

Office Partitions / Partitioning

Particularly glass office partitions are one of the main ways that a truly modern office look is created. Whether framed or frameless, curved or straight, permanent or demountable, glass partitions can achieve a number of aesthetic and practical aims in one. The transparency maximises the distribution of natural light through the office. Blinds can be added externally, internally (inside sealed units) and options such as switchable glass can be added to give the flexibility to achieve privacy when needed. Glass lends itself well to decoration e.g. etching, sandblasting, film / manifestation, so all manner of designs, images, logos, wording and numbers can be applied to the surface of the glass to give the office its own modern and totally individual look. Lighting effects can also be applied to the partitions to add to the impact including the use of accent lighting and LEDs.

Floor Coverings

Carpet and carpet tiles are still options although many offices go for a cleaner look that reflects light into the room such as the use of sheet vinyl, wood strip and wood block. One of the grounding elements of a modern look is the fact that a natural design such as wood still has a strong presence in off-setting and yet combining well with other modern effects and synthetic materials.

Mezzanine floors / raised floor areas between the actual floor and ceiling of taller office spaces are another way of building a modern look while getting the most practical use out of the space.


Suspended ceilings are still a practical option in office refurbishment, but it is now possible to hide rather than accentuate the grid / frames. As with the modern home a totally smooth, white ceiling surface with halogen and lighting options other than strip lighting spread across it helps to soften the feel of the environment.

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Last updated - March 2012
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