Design Features

Where in the World is IONIC

When you’re finally ready to build the worship, commercial, office or restaurant space of your dreams – why would you let your potential partners be confined to your immediate radius?

We hear about business owners and decision-makers wanting to work with a specific architecture firm that aligns perfectly with their vision and values (often it’s us!) but headquartered out of state. Many times, they believe they must choose a firm closer to them, instead. Why!?

There’s no reason an architect based in your city can do a better job than one halfway across the country.
Architecture is an old discipline. It’s been practiced for centuries. For that reason, it’s also steeped in tradition and conventional beliefs. One of those beliefs being that build partners have to meet in-person to create the best space possible. Whether that means a lack of communication, a hurdle to building amicable relationships, or forfeiting oversight is the problem – it’s just not true.

With virtual communication processes now firmly ingrained in almost all businesses, in-person contact with your architect is an unnecessary remnant of the past. At IONIC, we’re licensed in almost twenty different states and in-demand in many of them. We continue to form great relationships, complete amazing spaces, and ensure top-notch service for our clients whether they are sitting in our Virginia headquarters, or not.


Your goal should be to find the highest performing firm with a portfolio that excites you, whether they can stop by your office for lunch or call in from a different climate. Experience, attitude, and design acumen are more important than proximity.

IONIC is licensed in 15 states. If you’re interested in working with us and your job is located in one of them, let’s talk!




New York State
North Carolina
South Carolina
New Jersey

Form & Function: Offices that Do Both

We speak often about the importance of both form and function in creating the spaces that our clients envision.

That is particularly important when designing office spaces. Modern office spaces present a unique challenge – they aren’t just about productivity, anymore. These spaces must allow for maximum work efficiency and collaboration while establishing an enjoyable and “on-brand” atmosphere. At IONIC, we know how to accomplish that!

Take for example the 18,000 square foot McDonald’s Regional Corporate Office. In order to create a fun yet functional work environment, IONIC took its inspiration from items found in McDonald’s restaurants. One of the conference rooms is reminiscent of a large box of fries, from which four large fries escaped and are strung together to serve as “touchdown” stations. Seeing the opportunity for better use of natural daylight, IONIC also rearranged workstations adjacent to windows while moving conference rooms inward, allowing more light to enter the space. Finally, the reception desk emulates an ordering counter (appearing clutter-free) yet incorporating all necessary office equipment.

As a creative firm always striving for original implementations, the challenges of modern office spaces suit the IONIC team perfectly.


Another great example is a medical office currently under construction. The Mancoll Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery office needed to meet the area’s strictly enforced aesthetic building codes and our client’s vision while establishing enough functional space for the practice to operate under the proper medical requirements. The result is a beautiful mixed media, beachy exterior with a comfortable waiting area and large rooms for patients. Stay tuned to the Mancoll Cosmetic build as we provide CA services, here.

Finally, we are excited to announce that we’ve been awarded a unique office project in Richmond, VA! Vytal Studios, a technology-based educational content developer and production company will be investing $6.8 million as they relocate from Austin, TX to 1802 Semmes Avenue in RVA. We’re designing the new office, along with renovations of the previous historical structure as well. The area will include studio space for filming content and office space for development and post-production functions. We’re excited to share details as the project progresses!

Companies large and small turn to IONIC to create office spaces that are highly efficient and functional, yet filled with touches that fit their brand and closely align with the business owner’s vision to bring their dreams to life!

DeZign Trend: Going the Full Distance with IONIC

Team IONIC is not the type to move on very quickly. We like to ensure that our designs are brought to life beautifully (and correctly). So, seeing projects through to the end is very important to our firm. But keeping your architect involved past the concept and design phase isn’t just for our assurance – it protects clients (you) and helps the contractor. 

That’s why we encourage all of our clients to take advantage of our Contract Administration (or CA) services. As Contract Administrator, the architect has many duties. That includes everything from completing paperwork to carrying out regular inspections and monitoring progress on-site. It means having a set of informed eyes on all aspects of your project, at all times. 

As the person who ultimately takes ownership of the new space, it’s important to protect your investment. Keeping your architect on for CA does just that. 

On too many occasions our team visited a worksite to find less expensive windows installed, concrete laid outside of code or countless other shortcuts and mistakes. 

By visiting the site regularly, viewing the work often and ensuring it’s being built in accordance with the contract documentation – the client can rest assured that the quality of workmanship and the end result will be exactly what they expect. 

Sometimes it isn’t about preventing mistakes. Good contractors like to have an architect involved because Contract Administration gives them guidance during the build. 

Your architect is the designer – that includes design of the construction details (how it is built). The contractor is the builder, following the architect’s instructions. Even detailed drawings and specifications cannot always fully describe complex plans. It helps enormously if the architect who created the concept and design is available during construction. They can answer questions, give instructions and be a professional and informed point of contact to make any design/technical decisions if required.

As Contract Administrators, we do everything possible to ensure our designs reach their full potential. If you’re ready to start your project and get it done correctly, let Ionic DeZign Studios know. 

Modern Church Design Ideas for Beautiful Acoustics

At its heart, a church is a place of both communication and worship. Through verbal and musical expression, people come together to celebrate and worship, so proper acoustics are essential. Studying acoustics helps understand how sound behaves and moves through a space, thus in a place such as a church where verbal communication is a foundational value, proper design is important.

How Acoustics Work

Acoustics are determined by the architectural design of the space as well as the way people are occupying it. The bigger the room is, the more sound it will hold, and bigger rooms swallow sound. Hard versus soft walls will determine how the sound “bounces” around a room, as hard walls facilitate more bouncing off the sound and it will be easier to hear the voice, but when speaking in a room with soft walls it is harder to be heard. Acoustics are an essential part of architectural design, especially in places of performance, since highly reflective ceiling panels above a stage will direct sound towards seating areas. If the ceiling panel is placed properly above the stage, it will have a positive effect, but if the panel is placed too far back there will be a negative effect. Sound also refracts through small openings, so careful attention is paid to the door and floor tracks as well as HVAC ducting.

Acoustics in Church Design

Acoustics are essential for proper sound distribution when it comes to sermons or songs in churches. With improper acoustic ceiling systems, it will be difficult for individuals to clearly understand the words of the sermon or to hear the lyrics to a song properly. This can inhibit the overall experience in the Church, so these issues are given careful thought by architects during the design process. Echos are traditionally caused by “parallel reflective surfaces or side walls”, but this can be treated. A large flat or curved surface can also cause echoes and should be avoided.

Sound Absorbing Panels

Sound absorbing panels will help the spoken words of the pastor or religious leader be heard more clearly throughout the entire space. Sound absorbing panels work to reduce reverberation time, which is what makes sounds harder to understand as they build up on top of each other, and can also make them appear rather loud. Acoustical foam, panels, and curtains will help, with acoustical panels often being the best choice as they are presentable and can be installed onto a wall that’s already standing. These panels are also customizable and can be tailored to the style preferences of each particular church.

Acoustics for a Powerful Service

When tended to properly, acoustics can add an additional layer of power and beauty to the delivery of a church service. A careful balance must be struck between enough acoustic treatment to make the service accessible and not enough that it sounds messy. Careful application of panels and soft surfaces to absorb sound help, as well as breaking up large spaces into separate sections to direct sound. Sidewalls can be designed to angle slightly near the front where the speaker is in order to project sound to the back. For roof peaks over the speaker, sound can be improved by adding low-frequency sound absorption in the top.

Acoustic ceiling systems allow the beautiful sounds of worship and celebration to be heard by all members of the congregation. When designed properly, they are both aesthetically pleasing and practical, making acoustic ceiling systems an essential aspect of church design.


Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value. 

Crescent Community Center

Team IONIC is excited to share a sneak preview of the project that is currently in development. Crescent community center is a project in Virginia Beach off of Salem Road where the clients had received the condition of use approval back in 2013. The design that was completed at that time was very adventurous but didn’t quite capture the cultural desires of the client.

IONIC was brought in to assist the client in completing the vision that they so desperately desired. WPL is the civil engineer of record and had completed an approved site plan for the client to proceed with developing the infrastructure, grading and  parking but the client hadn’t move forward with any of the building documents.

The original plan called for 12,400 square feet of new construction. However this was too much for the congregation to afford. Originally a tower was included along with a dome structure both of which needed to be eliminated to bring the cost of construction within budget. After several years of frustration the client brought the issues to IONIC for assistance. We had previously worked with Syed Haider on other convenience store projects and had an excellent relationship with him over the years. When he walked in the door he told us that if anybody could make this happen it was us.

What a great testimonial!

And what a great responsibility to perform!

So after our discussion talking about the desires, goals and potential reduction in square footage for the initial phase, IONIC went to work on creating a plan that could be implemented. Our team of designers researched ideas, materials, and cultural impact that would make this project a success. All of these things needed to come together to meet the restricted budget.

IONIC first started with a floor plan and shared our initial ideas with client. After several back and forth conversations we were able to come up with a plan that fits the needs of the client and seemed to allow us to produce a structure within budget. This plan would also allow future growth to the full 12,000+ square feet whenever the church/mosque was capable of moving forward.

The next phase was researching ideas of how to keep the structure both contextual, cultural, and affordable. Yes, all those things usually do not go together. Regardless, that was our task.

Our team sketched ideas and concepts back and forth deliberating on an approach.

IONIC shared our the IONIC Masterplan with our client and achieved outstanding success!

Once we presented the idea and walked through the concepts as well as the interiors of the space by utilizing a three-dimensional model and capabilities of spinning the structure around so the client could see all sides different angles and interiors of our proposed design. Alongside our model we shared samples of exterior finishes which included porcelain tile on higher impact areas and stucco on the remaining portions.

Our primary focus was to have the front of the building become dominant in the design so the two key bookends were featured on the front utilizing the porcelain tile with tall glass entryway fronted by a simple arcade. To accomplish some of the blending of culture we proposed sandblasted storefront that characterized the Mosaic pattern often found in similar structures. This idea would allow sun to stream in from the outside and create a shadow cast across the floor replicating the Mosaic feel. Conversely at nighttime when interior lights are gleaming brightly, the shadows would be cast outside onto the paving in front of the entryway.

The effects will be dynamic!

After receiving accolades from our client in accomplishing exactly what they desired, our next hurdle was to see if we could get approvals administratively from the City of Virginia Beach on our new design. The primary concern here is that if they felt our design deviated too far from the original plans, we would have to go through the entire condition of use process again. This would delay the construction document phase by over three months if it was required.

With great joy the city’s planners saw that our design as being compatible with the original plan and found it pleasing. With this information we were granted an administrative approval to move forward!

Let us know if we can help you finish your master plan and help your project move forward. Send all questions and inquiries to

We look forward to hearing from you.

the IONIC Masterplan For Your Church Project

Developing a plan for a group can have its challenges if you don’t have your act together. It takes a carefully crafted process to guide a church’s building committee successfully.

We have been told by so many of our clients that our process was the most thorough and detailed that they had ever experienced. Our step-by-step process that leads a committee from the beginning of a program guide to a projected budget has helped our clients fully understand the process of renovating or modifying their church facility.

First let me share that it isn’t an easy process. It can be very time consuming, if done improperly. There are many factors that go into developing a master plan for a church and any one of them can create chaos if not approached properly. We feel we have been given an opportunity to be good stewards for our church clients and not lead them down a path that would create hardships or delays in their projects.

Here are a few of the issues that we have helped our clients face:

1. Budget

2. Re-purposing existing spaces

3. Expansion of new facilities

4. Focusing on priorities

5. Committee members’ different desires

6. Providing solutions when the budget doesn’t allow them to fulfill all their wishes.

7. Creating a phasing plan

8. Team involvement

Any one of these can be a challenge to the committee and it helps to have someone steering the committee in a direction that will get them positive results.

IONIC’s goal is to assist the church in recognizing its own VISION and allowing it to rise to the surface. We are not here to push our own agenda but rather carefully take the needs and requirements of the church and help craft a plan that can be successfully implemented.

Custom Designed Millwork

First thought that pops into your mind when you hear “CUSTOM”?…..yes, I want it…..probably too expensive.

EXACTLY! We hear it at IONIC all the time. Clients really want that WOW piece as customers walk in their doors but too often it just cannot be affordable.

First let me define MILLWORK so we can share our thoughts on what we will be discussing. If it’s what you’re thinking then you can keep on reading or just jump to the pictures.

MILLWORK typically refers to a type of cabinetry product….made in a mill shop. It can be a reception desk, counters, kitchen cabinets, desks, credenzas, sales counters and more. Doesn’t always have to be made of wood but often is for ease of customization.

So what makes it custom? Well it can be a one of a kind. A unique piece that is made especially for your office, store or home. The colors and materials are what you want, the finished are what you want and most importantly IT FITS WHERE YOU BUILT IT FOR.

Another aspect that a custom MILLWORK piece can provide is function. Along with the custom look and custom fit, this piece can meet your specific needs when it comes to function. Most standard pieces are made to be very flexible without too many specialties so that the end user can FIT their stuff in. Unfortunately, more often than not, the fit doesn’t meet the end users expectations. They are just too generic.

Let me give a few quick easy examples. How about a food sales ordering counter? You know there will be equipment on the top and underneath. How will your equipment fit? Will it still have easy access? Will the refrigerator fit underneath? Can supplies be stored inside or quick use? With a custom built MILLWORK piece the answer is often YES!

How about a reception desk? We have found over the years that most offices often have a person that is a greeter when you walk into an office or other business establishment. First impression is the desk or counter they are working behind. So often this piece is used as an impressive piece and first introduction of the business.

So is it just a pretty cabinet? Heavens no! They are not just answering phones there either. The front desk typically has to function as a full fledge office desk too. Computer, monitor, printer, console phone, storage plus all the traditional pens, paper, etc that need to be there. Oh yes, and look nice too when your customers walk in and not appear as a mess!

Or how about a crazy desk made from reclaimed pieces of Shipping container….or anything else? Sometimes it doesnt have to be made of wood and laminate or metal, a creative mind can construct something that will be one of a kind imaginative piece specifically for your business.

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.

Find out more about IONIC

VHDA Certified

We spent the morning at the VHDA office in Richmond getting our certification for Universal Design. I had seen the office several times as it was only three minutes from the hotel I stay at when I visit IONIC Richmond. So that means about a mile away from from our office.

What does VHDA do? A lot, but for starters:

I was impressed with the amount of information we were educated on and the process about how they focus on design that accommodates more users. Universal Design is not the same thing as ADA American Disabilities Act. It has different criteria.

As we continue to move forward with mixed use and multi-family projects, this will help us guide our clients in a manner that could certainly benefit them.

One of the interesting displays that they had at their headquarters was a full mock up that you could roll a wheelchair through. It’s not as easy as you might think. The circle depicts the 5’ handicap circle required in commercial work. Rumor has it they may be increasing it to 66”.

Examples of ways a cabinet can appear perfectly normal for a residence but a few adjustments in the cabinet can help those with disabilities still function in their own kitchen. This drawer was cut in half and a lower counter or cutting board was added.

Make sure your projects have the appropriate backing for support of grabbars (other side of the wall). I’ve seen these installed just in the drywall and get pulled out the first time someone really needs them.

A great day spent getting some valuable information in order to better help our clients find solutions to their design and construction problems.

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.

Find out more about IONIC 

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

Propfuel Comes to IONIC

I’m pretty excited about the new tool we are using in our office called Propfuel. Look it up at We have always felt we have a great culture in our office. It was never really defined, it just was. Things came together like a mixed-up recipe and it worked. When others asked about it or we interviewed prospective new team members, it was hard to describe.

We could share examples or things we did as a group as it related to our work, play, process etc. However, it was never written down. Again, it just was. Those that had been with us for a long time knew what we were, how we worked and most importantly WHO we were. But as we grew, new team members added, some moved away and the acquisition of a Richmond office began to dilute what our history of culture had been.

New members had ideas of what it was like with their previous employer. The Richmond office had its own rich culture developed over 35 years, but it wasn’t OURS.

How do you get everyone back on the same page as to our brand, our processes, our way of doing business, our EVERYTHING?

I knew we needed to have something written down. Something tangible and solid that we could refer to. A guide but not a list of RULES written in a handbook. We needed a set of Core Values.

The Core Values needed to be what the entire team saw that IONIC was…not what I, the ‘boss’…(by the way I hate that title. I work with you. My job is just different) wanted the firm to be. It needed all of the team to share in the thoughts of WHO we were. The Core Values needed to be the foundation of our Culture Statements.

The first step: Everyone provided (anonymously) what they felt IONIC embodied. And yes, even where we came up short. Knowing our weaknesses is important, too.

Second: All those phrases, words and snippets were combined into similar topics and shared on each office’s big wall-sized white boards.

Third: Everyone was encouraged to critique, edit, filter, define and amend each of the topics. This “sharpening of the iron” began to divulge where we stood. WHO we had become as IONIC. And most importantly, what was important to each of us.

Last Step: The final step was to formalize these into statements and post them in each office. Something that we could finally USE to describe us.

BUT, before we did that, I felt we needed to continue the open form of communication that we started before launching this. I felt we were always transparent about the firm as it relates to work load, financial health, future goals and endeavors, but I also often felt it was just ME talking (preaching) and I wasn’t really getting any feedback for whatever reason.

Enter Dave Will and Propfuel. I had followed Dave on the EO Podcast and listened to his interviews of so many different entrepreneurs. I was always inspired by the discussions.

Dave created a new software tool that helped define and build upon the company culture. OUR culture. Dave and I had running in common. We met for the first time at the regional EO NERVE event in Florida and went running early in the morning. It was great. We shared each other’s histories and businesses. Our successes and, of course, our failures. All of it forms who we are. We must learn from our mistakes to grow from them.

So during a run, Dave shared Propfuel with me. A business tool that allows leadership to get valuable insights into the team. A platform that allows the team to share, both openly and privately. It not only promotes feedback but encourages recognition. We forget about that too often.

We started Propfuel last week and have begun to share.

Is it tough to hear criticism? Of course.

Do we want to be a better company? OF COURSE!

Do we want to enjoy our work? Absolutely!

Is it great to see others give “props” to one another and support each other? Undoubtedly, one of the best things!

I look forward to sharing our successes with Propfuel and watching how our communication grows and strengthens our Culture and Core Values. If you would like to ask me about it, please write me. I’d love to share. I’d be glad to introduce you to Dave. He’s a great guy and runs marathons, too! To research on your own, check out their website:

Watch for more updates as we progress.

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.
Find out more about IONIC