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While most of us must accept sitting just AT our regular desks, the creatives at Hamburg’s Syzygy agency get to sit IN their swanky, new desks. Thinking up ads and interactive campaigns for clients such as Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda and Fujitsu, will most likely go a whole lot smoother when your workplace is custom-designed for you.
The office of Syzygy Hamburg (they also have offices in London and Frankfurt) was created by Christoph Roselius and Julian Hillenkamp, the two founders of eins:eins architecten in Hamburg.
The sleek, white bullpens are not as inflexible as they may seem. On the contrary — the various configurations are endless, but the desks always join together and form a whole. This allows for close cooperation and reinforces the feeling of everyone being in the same boat. The flexible desks also make it possible to turn tight and tough-to-utilize spaces into productive working environments.
Syzygy’s staff is lucky in other ways, too. Their cool office is located in the central part of Hamburg, near the city hall, the Binnenalster artificial lake, and the upscale shopping promenades of Jungfernstieg and Neuer Wall. Seems unfair, doesn’t it? -Tuija Seipell
London-based architecture and design firm Jump Studios believes that innovation comes from breaking barriers between design disciplines. At Jump, expertise from the worlds of fashion, art, anthropology and academia is added to the design and architecture contingent.
This must have been part of the appeal when design, communications and marketing group Engine selected Jump as the designer of its new digs. Engine’s five-storey new building on 60 Great Portland Street had to please the 12 different companies operating under the Engine umbrella - and their clients.
Jump director Simon Jordan and team had to conjure up an environment that could house and appeal to a vast range of tastes and cultures. Yet, somehow, it all had to reflect a coherent Engine brand as well.
Interestingly, the lozenge-shaped white 'meeting pods' bring to mind a Disneylandish combo of a Tomorrowland ride and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. One might half expect to grab the edges of the white table and feel the unit starting to turn round and round. This is not a bad thing. It all manages to look calm and cool while having a sense of whimsy. Same thing with the purple-pink loungers that look like they could have been made of a sweet, edible stiff foam, cut into bulky shapes with a gigantic saw. Even with the cute undertones, the seating stays on this side of classy and creates an imposing visual element. The large internal windows with their rounded edges evoke a feeling of a large ship, with the people inside seeming to be on a journey.
Whether any of this was Jump’s intention is irrelevant. When a communications group’s space - intentionally or accidentally - speaks of imagination, whimsy and moving ahead, it surely must be a space that fits its dynamic occupants.
The client list of Jump Studios includes also Nike, Red Bull, Adidas, Wieden + Kennedy, Honda and Levi’s. Projects for Bloomberg, Adidas, Fiat and L’Oreal are next on Jump’s agenda. - Tuija Seipell
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When the investment group All Capital wanted a power space for their high-powered meetings in Amsterdam, they engaged two local creative firms that had the right vision. Architectural office Eckhardt en Leeuwenstein created the meeting and lounge areas that are prestigious and opulent without being pretentious or stuffy.
Themed around the playful concept of being under a spotlight, the spaces feature gigantic, round, black lamp shades spray-painted gold inside. These power lights appear to cast spot lights and create shadows everywhere in the space. The fake ovals of light and shadow on the floor, walls and furnishings are created by altering the colors and textures of the finish.
The golden ovals also define specific areas and soften the angles of the black-stained ash wood desks and cabinets. In addition, the gold and silver ovals scattered about can be interpreted as coins - highlighting the business of the client. All existing ornamentation and detail of the building was painted white.
The All Capital boardrooms and lounge opened last month in the historic, 17th-century building, De Gouden Bocht located by one of the most famous canals of Amsterdam, the Herengracht (=Gentlemen`s Canal).
i29 was established in 2001 by Jaspar Jensen and Jeroen Dellensen. Their style is characterized by a dramatic absence of extras or gimmicks, and by frequent use of clear blocks of color and lots of white. Their projects, mainly in Amsterdam, include schools, retail shops, restaurants, hotels and private residences.
Architect duo Rob Eckhardt and Goos Leeuwenstein has a long history of distinctive projects from public spaces to restaurants, entertainment venues and residences. They've created offices for Publicis, DDB and Eigen Fabrikaat, film studios for Jurriaan Eindhoven, and interiors for Restaurant Bordewijk. Eckhardt became known early in his career as a furniture designer with the disco stool Dolores as his first success in the early 1980s. He even operated a retail store that sold his furniture, including the 1983 Groeten uit Holland chair and the 1982 Karel Doorman chaise lounge. - Tuija Seipell
GHD, makers of the must-have hair straightening irons (many a woman's best friend, let me tell you) have just joined the cool offices club. The company's new 15,600 sq ft head quarters in Leeds is more space ship than corporate office. And that's exactly how they wanted it, according to UK firm Carey Jones interiors, who designed the futuristic space, which features a "catwalk" in the reception area.
The objective of the two-year long project was to capture GHD's sense of style and uniqueness in the market place and translate that into their HQ's design. Mission accomplished. - Lisa Evans
We are cautiously nursing a glimmer of hope that even the most corporate of the corporate world could start taking design seriously. And that they could really start understanding and taking advantage of the effects that great head-office design has on staff creativity, productivity and comfort; which, in turn, leads to either staff loyalty or revolving doors. And, most important, that all of this inevitably filters down to how the customers experience the company.
Some banks in Australia are giving us reason for this hope. We observed Macquarie investment bank’s new harbourside office building in Sydney some time ago.
We are now looking at the ANZ Centre in Melbourne’s Docklands and our hopes rise up further. Designed by Melbourne-based HASSELL, the massive “urban campus” occupies 130,000 square metres and is the location of the daily grind for 6,500 people.
The design centers around a common hub that on the ground level includes cafes, a visitor centre and public art. Throughout the campus, 44 individual hub spaces connect to quiet working zones.
The floor plan maximizes flexibility and daylight penetration, and fosters collaboration and varying work styles. About 55 percent of the work area is collaborative space and the remaining area is dedicated desk space.
HASSELL won the 2010 World Architecture Festival’s Interiors and Fitout of the Year award for ANZ Centre. The World Architecture Festival is an annual three-day event held in Barcelona where the Awards this year attracted a record 500 entries from 61 countries. - Tuija Seipell
Maurice Mentjens Design, based in Holtum, the Netherlands, continues to delight and draw attention with its imaginative work. We have featured a couple of their store projects here and here, but this time, we are fascinated by the studio/office/production facility they designed for PostPanic.
PostPanic is a creative design and animation studio, but it is also a production company that animates, produces and directs its creations in-house. PostPanic produces mainly commercial projects for the international advertising, retail, broadcast and music industries. Clients include Nike, MTV and Coca-Cola.
When PostPanic decided to move to a new large facility located in Westerdoksdijk, a new high-density district in Amsterdam, it commissioned Mentjens to come up with interiors that would accommodate the various production and design teams, and also be flexible enough to suit a staff whose numbers can fluctuate from 14 to 40 depending on the workload.
Mentjens used the distance between the massive concrete columns as the defining theme of the space’s other dimensions. The production room, meeting room and staff room are all as wide as the distance between two columns, and the studio on the mezzanine level is two spans wide.
The overall feel of the space conjures up thoughts of a retro space-age station, or perhaps a secret-agent facility for a very important mission. There is a sense of industrious, “we mean business” attitude in the entire facility with delightful touches of color and fun treatments — sky-blue ceiling, red-and-gold paisley wall — to lighten up the gravity. We especially love the pod-like boardroom that resembles an interrogation chamber on a space ship headed to somewhere far, far away. - Tuija Seipell
Photography - Arjen Schmitz
Patrick Tighe, principal of Santa Monica’s Tighe Architecture, may hate space-age references. But, here we go: Tighe’s work for Moving Picture Company’s (MPC) Los Angeles office IS space-agey. With its pod-like central spaces, curving ledges and white drywall expanses, it evokes memories of retro space movies.
But it all fits. The U.K-based MPC is in the business of computer animation, color-grading and digital effects, so you wouldn’t want color, hard edges or natural light to mess with that. MPC is known for its work on the past six James Bond films, Slumdog Millionaire and commercials.
In turn, Tighe’s residential and commercial work is characterized by roofs shooting out at angles, curves sweeping, horizontal planes slanting. Your eye follows these lines easily and accepts the direction. A goal that MPC is most likely familiar as well. - Tuija Seipell
In 1984, Vodafone was a tiny UK startup. Today, it is one of the world’s leading mobile telecommunications companies with activities around the globe. Vodafone’s well publicized Portuguese headquarters is located on Avenida da Boavista in Porto (Oporto), the namesake of Port wine and Portugal’s second global city after Lisbon.
The super modern building was designed by architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães of Barbosa Guimarães Arquitectos.
The architects’ wish to reflect Vodafone’s credo “Vodafone Life, Life in Motion” lead to the creation of a building that challenges the static and appears to be out of balance. Three of the angular building’s eight floors are underground. The cross-section reveals an uneven footprint almost as if the entire structure had fallen from sky at a great speed and crashed itself into the earth where it now sits, only partly exposed and slightly disheveled.
Indeed, the outer skin reminds us of a slightly unfinished origami project that will eventually become a scale model of a museum, the inside views bring to mind the many variations of angular, uneven and pleasantly unresolved spaces we’d seen at Hotel Silken Puerta América in Madrid, especially the rooms designed by Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and Plasma Studio. - Tuija Seipell
Photography by ultimasreportagens.com
The work coming out of the talented team at OFIS Arhitekti of Ljubljana is consistently elegant and graceful, with a refreshing honesty and clarity. Many of their buildings exude a peaceful balance of curves that are never frivolous, sharp angles that are never harsh, and materials that are earnest and timeless.
Another recent example is their entry in the international competition to design the Ljubljana City Administration Center. OFIS’s suggestion came third in the competition that posed a considerable challenge of having to juggle the new buildings among existing, protected buildings and existing underground facilities as well. The total area of new buildings for the project is 42.288m2.
OFIS’s proposal is a series of rounded, low-rise glass-facade buildings that are modern yet toned-down and beautiful yet soberly sensible. All of the buildings in the entry convey a graceful sense of openness and appear welcoming and unstuffy — in stark contrast to the clunky, traditional “government office” style buildings so prevalent in Eastern European cities.
The proposal also meets lofty goals in terms of minimizing operational costs and maximizing sustainable practices — from optimizing indoor air, light and acoustic qualities, and using healthy and local materials, to minimizing the consumption of energy and water.
Project leaders for the entry were Rok Oman and Spela Videčnik, the two 39-year-old architects who established OFIS in 1998. They are both graduates of the Ljubljana School of Architecture and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. - Tuija Seipell
Many of us know what it's like to work from home. Distraction upon distraction tends to stunt our productiveness. If only more of us could convince our employers that we can, in fact, stay motivated and actually get work accomplished in the confines of our own home offices.
The design team at Synthesis recently installed Chelsea Workspace - a custom home office for a private personal investment advisor. Constrained by both budget and space, the design team at Synthesis enwrapped a series of prefabricated CNC milled birch plywood ribs atop all the necessary features any home workspace should include: a desk, sliding and hinged storage units, a printer and paper shredder, concealed paths for wires and cables and recesses for lighting - thereby eliminating all unnecessary clutter.
One small window emits natural light onto the surfaces where horizontal spacers are arranged in the pattern of a world map, which will allow the owner to map out his travels. The design of the work space presents a viable solution to ensure working from home can be free from distraction, and where focus in an innovative space ensures the highest level of productivity. - Andrew J Martin
This sleek and shiny new building is the Technology Center Medical Science (Das Science Center Medizintechnik), located in central Berlin between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate.
If you feel that the building, designed by Gnädinger Architects, looks somewhat sterile and synthetic, the architects and owners would not feel offended. The building has two main functions — it is a corporate facility and a science center — but both have to do with human mobility, specifically walking and grasping, and bionics (technology modeled on nature).
The clinical feel and sweeping forms are what makes this such a cool complex. The façade is designed to resemble the structure of muscle fibers. If you visit the Science Centre within, you will learn all about it and will never look at this building the same way again.
The building owner is Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH, one of the world’s oldest and largest companies designing, manufacturing and selling prostheses and orthopedic products. It was founded in 1919 by Otto Bock to meet the needs of war veterans. The top three floors of the new building are taken up by the company and its training and demonstration facilities.
The three lower floors house the Science Center and its three exhibitions: The Fascination of Walking and Grasping, Nature as our Guide, and Technology for People. To design the exhibitions, Otto Bock commissioned Berlin-based ART+COM, that has designed events for the BMW Museum and many retail clients. - Tuija Seipell
This streamlined and crisp office environment in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is the work of Sergey Makhno’s design and architecture firm. The play between soft and hard, round and angular, plain and colorful creates a sense of whimsy and energy, but does not overpower the space.
The Kiev-based Makhno and his partner Vasily Butenko have used their own distinctive furniture throughout the interior.
The wine-colored, square-form Origami chairs in the small meeting room contrast beautifully with the azure walls and simple, white table. Black, padded Blobby office chairs give a soft touch to the sparse individual office areas, while the shiny blue rounded sofas add a playful touch to a flexible, multi-use area.
Corian walls “buckle” on top of wood paneling, exposing the wood and creating nooks for storage and soft, undulating features for the eye to follow. Makhno’s work has been featured in local and regional publications, but we expect to see more of it around the world. - Tuija Seipell
Berlin and Shanghai-based COORDINATION ASIA has just migrated its Shanghai office from an old textile mill to a glass-company headquarters. The former office was located on the banks of Suzhou Creek at No. 50 Monganshan Road in an old textile mill now known as M50 and housing a mix of creative businesses, cafes and restaurants.
COORDINATION ASIA’s new digs are located in the former headquarters of the Shanghai Glass Company at Huangpi Road 688, a building waiting for complete renovation in 2012.
COORDINATION’s CEO Tilman Thürmer, now more or less permanently located in Shanghai, says he misses the artistic community of M50, but loves the downtown location and the cool vibe of the new space.
The team at COORDINATION created a sleek 300 square-meter home for itself among the crazy “old-style European mansion” decor that was the result of a renovation in the 90s. They kept the marble, hardwood, built-in bookshelves, hidden storage, weird ceiling molding and the odd mix of ceiling light fixtures but covered most of it with black paint, a colour prominent in many COORDINATION projects.
The result is an elegant and artsy creative space that could be mistaken for a completely customized environment. - Tuija Seipell.
Pool tables, free beer and “casual everyday” dress code may have become the desired and appropriate work environment in many companies, but for some, a gentlemen’s club atmosphere works better.
London-based architecture and design firm SHH created this elegant office in London for an international investment company. The offices are located in a five-storey Georgian townhouse connected to a two-storey mews by a partially covered walkway. Several marble-inlaid fireplaces, marble mosaic floor tiles and beautiful ceiling cornices were kept from the previous occupants but the rest underwent a thorough modernization.
The resulting milieu is imposing and somewhat intimidating. Its dark, black-and-white photography vibe harkens back to some secret storied past, yet the contemporary treatments, especially the dramatic lighting pieces return the thoughts back to today.
Some of the light fixtures are by Modular and Foscarini and the statement chandeliers were custom-designed by Michael Anastassiades.
Custom-work, limited-edition pieces and classic furnishings such as Eames chairs accent each space, giving stunning jolts among the calm opulence.
Showing up in dated jeans or worn-out sneakers (unless you are Steve Jobs or Richard Branson) in this space would not seem appropriate, and should cue sports be allowed, they would most likely be the English Billiards variety.
Founded in 1992 by David Spence, Graham Harris and Neil Hogan (the S, H and H), architecture and design firm SHH is now a practice of more than 50 people working globally on architecture, design and branding projects.
Many of SHH’s retail, hospitality, nightclub and office clients are in the luxury category, but their client list includes also names such as Sheraton, Adidas, Pizza Hut, Aphostrophe and McDonald’s. - Tuija Seipell
Diane von Furstenberg Studio’s new headquarters fits perfectly in New York City’s fashionable Meatpacking District, also known as the Gansevoort Market Historic District. The new, six-story building is wedged between two historical, landmarked facades that resemble the wall props in Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba. One corner of the structure is topped by a Olot, Spain-made faceted glass sphere that is part of the penthouse suite and seems like a gigantic diamond fallen from the sky.
In the design, New York-based WORK Architecture managed to combine old and new, light and dark, openness and enclosure, artistry and practicality. The building houses DVF’s flagship store, a 5,000-square-foot showroom and event space, offices and studios for a 120 people, an executive suite, and a penthouse apartment.
Inside the building, the chief feature is the “stairdelier,” a wide stairway that connects the floors and distributes light throughout the building. Flexibility characterizes all of the public areas. Pivoting walls and built-in unfolding “steamer-trunk” structures allow for a wide use of the space for fashion shows, photo shoots, events and parties.
WORK was founded in 2002 by Beirut, Lebanon-born Amale Andraos and Rhode Island native Dan Wood. Many of their projects are in New York, but their work includes everything from a master plan of an Icelandic town to a theatre stage set, from low-income housing towers in New York to a luxury residence in Panama, plus retail, office and residential projects around the world. WORK is also designing 14 DVF stores in 11 countries.
Diane von Furstenberg was born in Brussels, Belgium, 61 years ago. She started her fashion designer career in 1970. Famous for her wrap dresses, which she started creating in 1973, she has become a veritable fashion icon. She is also the current president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the non-profit association of America’s fashion heavy-weights. By Tuija Seipell
See also Creative Work Environments
Large companies with thousands of employees often give just a cursory nod to creating an appealing, exciting and comfortable workplace. Enter the thousands of pool tables and vending machines that are supposedly making work more fun. Lucky for its 3,200 employees, one of Thailand’s leading telecommunications firms, Total Access Communication PCL under the dtac brand, did much more.
In June 2009, dtac gathered its massive team from six separate buildings and relocated them to the newly designed dtac House in Bangkok’s Chamchuri Square office tower. Now under the same roof for the first time ever, the dtac team occupies 62,000 square metres (about 662,000 square feet) on 20 floors, a move that marks the largest-ever office lease in Thailand’s history.
Opened to the media and VIPs on the auspicious day of 09/09/09, dtac House reflects the company’s desire to become the employer of choice, to enhance cooperation and communication, strengthen common goals, increase creativity and make it easier for the brand to react quickly to changing conditions. For staff and customers, the new environment aims to communicate dtac’s brand approach “play and learn.”
Australian Hassell won the competition to design the space and align it with dtac’s vision. Hassell created an open and flexible environment with natural wood, natural light and purpose-built spaces. Some of the highlights include a massive circular library amphitheatre, and an entire Funfloor with indoor soccer, table tennis, running track, and concert and performance spaces.
Other custom-designed spaces include the Conversation Pit, the Freeform Meeting, the Picnic Table and the Dining Room, all created to encourage informal, face-to-face meetings. An open terrace atop the building overlooks Bangkok’s skyline. It is easy to imagine that employees used to this environment would find it difficult to adjust to a boring row of cubicles ever again, in spite of the pool tables and vending machines. - Tuija Seipell
Great interior design isn't just limited to private homes, the retail world, hotels and public spaces such as art galleries. Smart employers are realizing that a creative workspace inspires greater productivity and...you guessed it, creativity. Since we first identified this trend last year, we've seen many more great examples - so much so that we've decided to launch a whole new section on creative work environments around the globe. Like this great space designed for KULT offices, located in a former school atop Mount Sophia in Singapore, the inspiration for this PR and advertising agency was to return to the uncertainty and excitement of the classroom laboratory. Remember the fascinating hours spent in the school lab - setting fire to stuff, cutting slimy things, peering into microscopes, sniffing foul liquids, adding just a little bit more of that to this to see what happens? Kult staff step into their office through a large cut in the wall, which creates an other-worldly effect as they leave reality behind every morning. A central island work-space is illuminated by a spectacular, suspended light ceiling. This techno element is balanced by the ubiquitous views of nature, delivered by windows situated above each desktop along the entire length of the office's walls. A contrasting color scheme of black and white brings it all together creating a modern space that blends harmoniously with the natural environment.
We're so inspired by cool creative office design that we're going to make the subject of our next book: The World's Coolest Creatives Offices; the second in a series which kicked off on The World's Coolest Hotel Rooms, this week. If you know of such a cool creative environment please send us a tip. By Lisa Evans.
If you are reading TCH while working, stop for a moment and consider your surroundings? What is your environment like? Are your surroundings in tune with what you should accomplish? Some of us work in our homes while others stare at their computer monitors all day in a multitude of places referred to as “work.”
Our environment has a direct impact on our work and on how we feel about our work. From the time you sit down with your Monday-morning latte to the moment you make the mad dash to the elevator late on Friday afternoon, innumerable stimuli affect your every action and reaction.
Can you gaze out, or better yet, open a window to let in fresh air? Is your concentration broken each time a nearby coworker turns on the external speaker when he answers the phone? Do you spend most of your day away from your workstation? Are the meeting rooms and common areas in your office inviting and inspiring?
Fortunately, designers have become increasingly ingenious when designing office space, but the ones making the decisions at the top deserve praise as well. We’re noticing more and more collaborations between designers and organizations that unquestionably result in satisfaction throughout the staff.
The focus of attention has started to shift. As leaders, we expect employees to produce more, better, faster, cooler. But we often spend all our time and energy ‘evolving our brand,’ and don’t pay much attention to work environments. If we changed the workspace, we’d probably start seeing more of what we want. Creative environments foster and attract creative minds.
Designers have figured it out — change the cube, evolve the thinking. Designers collaborate with interior architects and now the focus is on the entire space. How can we use space better? How do we create an interesting working environment? What if we did something really unusual? Like creating workspace inside a giant pipe — or a series of pipes?
Designers have now also been paying attention to elevators, stairwells, bathrooms, meeting rooms and other social spaces. These previously ignored and undervalued spaces are becoming an integral part of design strategies — and not just to look good, but also to function well. By adding colour, neon, digital interiors, irregular shapes and patterns — cool stuff to look at, to touch, or to sit in or on — we’ll heighten the senses and draw out creative thinking.
Macquarie investment bank’s new harborside office building, One Shelley Street, at King Street Warf in Sydney has been collecting accolades and awards for not only architecture and design but also for environmental sustainability and workplace functionality.
The main players in the team behind the building are Sydney-based Fitzpatrick & Partners, responsible for the design of the actual building, and West Hollywood’s Clive Wilkinson Architects that led the design team in the interior design and outfitting with Woods Bagot as the local executive architect.
Apart from the obvious visual appeal of the 10-storey office space, particularly impressive is Clive Wilkinson’s execution of the idea of using design as a key component in causing change — in encouraging and facilitating a new way of working. Macquarie wanted to adopt a new collaborative working style — Activity-Based Working (ABW), a flexible work platform developed by Dutch consultant Veldhoen & Co. — and the new office facility would play an important part in making this happen.
Macquarie’s 3,000 employees now work in an open and highly flexible space where, for example, in the 10-storey atrium, 26 various kinds of ‘meeting pods’ create a feel of ‘celebration of collaboration’ and contribute to openness and transparency.
The interior staircases have already reduced the use of elevators by 50%, and more than half of the employees say that they change their workspaces each day, and 77% love the freedom to do so.
We like Wilkinson’s own description of the result: “. . . a radical, large-scale workplace design that leverages mobility, transparency, multiple tailor-made work settings, destination work plazas, follow-me technology, and carbon neutral systems. The result is part space station, part cathedral, and part vertical Greek village.”
Clive Wilkinson Architects is known for creative workplaces. Their clients include ad agencies such as Mother, JWT and TBWA\Chiat\Day, and technology firms in the Silicon Valley and Nokia in Finland. - Tuija Seipell.
Upperkut, a young communications agency, takes up residence in the basement of a fully operational church, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal, Canada. How do you design the space without compromising the dynamic and fun character of the agency, and without altering the ceilings and other acoustic components of the building?
Montreal-based designer, Jean de Lessard, solved the problem by relying heavily on color and large-scale graphics that echo Uppercut’s website. The 380-square-meter space was divided into four areas: president’s office, project managers’ area, studio and multi-function room. The result is a colorful, functional space with a slightly scruffy feel that reiterate the vibes of both Upperkut and church-basement life. - Tuija Seipell
The interior design of Bank of Moscow’s offices in central Moscow’s Kuznetsky Most area (Kuznetsky Most street 13) retains the building’s great historical bones and matches customized adornments to them.
The office — one of the Bank’s many offices — occupies 7,000 square metres on the third floor and in the previously unused mansard (attic) space. Moscow-based designer, Alexey Kuzmin, retained by architectural office Sretenka for this assignment, used the space’s key feature, the large, hexagon-shaped central hall, as the defining point. He placed the client services functions in this grand, open area to evoke and retain the elegant feel of the entire building.
It is windowless, so Kuzmin created a stained-glass ceiling, that echoes the forms and style of the building. Everything in the client zone was customized, including the tall wooden doors with glass, stained-glass windows, chandeliers, oak paneling for walls and ceilings and the marble floors.
Kuzmin located the staff offices on the wings or balconies surrounding the client zone. The dividers in the office area are made of glass with wooden arches around them.
The attic had no historically significant features and it was designed as a typical, effective office. Glass dividers allow light into the space from the small narrow roof-top windows. The ceiling is made of fire resistant panels, covered with birch veneer. The white office furniture is by Vitra.
The storied building has housed the Tretyakov Trading House (same Tretyakovs that are behind the Tretjakov Art Gallery) and the expansive shop of the famous Russian photographer, J. Daziaro. Over time, the Kuznetsky Most area has changed from an upper-class shopping district (early 1800s) to financial district (mid 1800s), to Bolshevik and KGB offices, and back to elegant shopping (since 1980s). Tuija Seipell.
As recently as in October 2010, the Luxembourg-based Skype’s Stockholm office in Slussen housed only 35 employees. But the video- and audio-focused team’s digs were bursting at the seams and new offices were needed.
Skype found its next Stockholm home in a completely restored massive historical building, Münchenbryggeriet, a landmark of Stockholm’s skyline. Built in 1846 as a clothing factory, the building became Sweden’s largest brewery in 1857 and operated as a brewery until 1971.
Skype’s new offices in the München Brewery now have room for 100 employees. Head architect Mette Larsson-Wedborn of PS Arkitektur with team members Peter Sahlin, Thérèse Svalling, Beata Denton and Erika Janunger, was charged with expressing the Skype brand’s playful spirit and its mission to connect the world in the working environment.
To do this, the designers used round shapes, fun light fixtures and bright-color furnishings in an otherwise almost completely white space. The rounded shapes of the furnishings and cloud-like lights speak the same language as Skype’s rounded font and cloud logo. The custom-made wallpaper is literal, depicting the audio and video world of the staff.
The design team sourced the furnishing from around Europe. The soft, round furnishings come from Blå station; the large, soft green seating from Offecct, the poufs and sofas from Johanson design; the white chairs and barstools from Crassevig, the conference seating from Arper and the workstations from Martela. Customized furniture was designed by PS Architectur and built by Olle Lindelöf AB/Linjon AB.
Photography: Jason Strong
Horizon Media, founded in 1989, is the largest U.S. independent media services company. It is growing fast and needed a new space to accommodate its New York City staff that was scattered within ten blocks in three buildings and on nine floors.
Its new digs, designed by New York’s a+i Architecture are a cool mix of industrial-scale open space – 115,000 square feet in total on three floors – and warm, inviting working environments.
Horizon’s new offices occupy the 14th, 15th and 16th floors at 1 Hudson Square on 75 Varick Street between Grand and Canal Streets. It is part of the Hudson Square Business Improvement District established in 2009 by Mayor Bloomberg and envisioned to attract media and creative organizations as tenants and to become a major creative hub.
The building was originally a printing factory with an impressive concrete structure, 360-degree views and high ceilings. Wth such good bones to start from, a+i further amplified the grandeur by cutting a wide staircase through all three floors.
This not only opened the light-filled space up even more, it also met another requirement: it helps the staff see the “hive” at work and connect and interact with each other.
This cohesiveness and interaction was an important goal for Horizon, especially because this is the first time its large headquarter staff was under one roof. The goal of taking fuller advantage of the proximity of the talent of all teams is also reflected in the number of huddle rooms, screening rooms and flexible spaces that have the latest technology to enable cooperation, interaction, brainstorming, presentations, video conferencing and client meetings.
The color palette of the space is neutral with accessories, furnishings and millwork providing splashes of color. The coldness of polished concrete and steel is softened by curving wood features made of maple veneer.
Horizon Media employs 500 people in total with additional offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Amsterdam. a+i Architecture is a full-service architectural firm with projects ranging from workspace consulting, planning and design to retail and hospitality design. - Tuija Seipell
Last year, we covered Macquarie Group's massive Sydney headquarters designed by West Hollywood-based Clive Wilkinson Architects. Earlier this year, the same two players completed another spectacular office project, this time in London.
Macquarie, a global provider of banking and investment services, gathered up its various divisions from several buildings under one roof in the brand-new Ropemaker Place. Macquarie occupies 217,500 square feet (20,207 square meters) on six floors in the 20-storey, LEED Platinum building designed by Arup Associates.
Wilkinson's team took its cues from the new trend of transparency in financial services and balanced that with the more traditional and practical needs of prestige and privacy.
The beautiful, open space is a triumph of simplicity. A skillful and meaningful use of bright colour, combined with the all-white inner structure gives the open plan a sense of delight and order.
The centerpiece is the open atrium where the bright red steel staircase and upper-level steel catwalks link the various floors in a visually stunning way. The sculpture-like staircase, with its underside also painted red, is the focal point of the entire space and symbolizes not just openness but connectedness as well.
Privacy and prestige are evident in the more secluded client areas, where the traditional pinstripe lines appear in several iterations in ceilings, partitions, environmental graphics and other visual cues.
Exquisite furnishings, such as the purple Tom Dixon seating in the upper-level guest relations and reception area, exude prestige with modern sensibilities.
The traditional boardroom is furnished by existing furniture from previous offices, including Eames chairs and walnut-veneer table.
Environmental graphics, by Los Angeles-based Egg Office, continue on the theme of transparency and privacy with vertical pinstripes the key visual element. - Tuija Seipell.
After several months of construction, Red Bull’s Dutch subsidiary, Red Bull Netherlands, has settled into its new headquarters on the North side of Amsterdam’s Port area. The almost 1000 square-meter (about 10,763 square feet) office is part of the 7800 square-meter (83,958 square feet) Media Wharf complex at the NDSM Wharf, on the shores of the river IJ.
The office was designed by Sid Lee Architecture of Montreal and Amsterdam. The theme of the space is duality and polarity -- reason and intuition, light and dark, art and business, public and private.
Much of the space is undefined, seemingly unfinished, with a feel of street culture and the rough edges of the shipyard’s past echoed in the design.
Red Bull Netherlands’s director Jan Smilde was quoted as saying that the company wanted a location with an entrepreneurial spirit where they would have the freedom to develop innovative ideas and events.
Established before WWII, NDSM (Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij – Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) was one of the world’s largest shipbuilders. It continued to operate until the mid-1980s, after which the shipyards were deserted except for squatters and artists who established a “breeding ground” of emerging artist there.
This area, the size of 10 football fields, has now been developed into an artistic and media hub, with studios and workshops, offices, open spaces, student housing, festival venues and restaurants. More here in English.
Perhaps we are overly practical here at TCH, but we could not help but wonder what Red Bull’s heating bill for this space is in the cold Dutch winter months. - Tuija Seipell
We return to the creative work of Supermachine Studio, the multidisciplinary design firm that architect Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul established in 2009 in Bangkok.
Last year, we covered Supermachine's design of Bangkok University Creative Center.
This time, our attention was piqued immediately by the first images we saw of Supermachine's ideas for the rebirth of Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand's office.
Supermachine was the team of choice for Saatchi & Saatchi's regional creative director, Joel Clement, because he was looking for playful and unexpected design solutions. Clement wanted a space "that inspires, is genuinely fun to come to everyday, and that didn't take itself too seriously."
The agency's move to the Sindhorn Tower, on Wireless Road in Bangkok, was part of parent firm Publicis's goal to gather its affiliated companies in one building for shared resources.
The somewhat dated building, tight space (400 m2, about 4305 ft²) and the tight budget posed challenges that Chaowakul and team solved with bold ideas that leave much of the space open but accented by strong visual elements. This openness was also part of Clement's brief to Supermachine, as the previously scattered teams had to learn to work together and become one functioning family.
We love Supermachine's happy nods to motion and mobility. The reception desk is on wheels and resembles a big white bus. Bicycles work as the legs of a large glass-top conference table that is fully mobile. The meeting cabins that feel like train compartments. There is also the reoccurring visual theme in the shape of a racetrack, hockey rink or stadium.
A large outer wall is covered with small, white "wood pixels" that are made of wood recycled from the agency's previous office. With this wall, Supermachine achieved not just practical goals -- to cover the ugly red marble wall and to save costs by recycling materials from the existing office -- they also created a visual link to the organization's past.
Perhaps in a nod to even further into humanity's past, there is the "monster wall." Its main feature is a 20 meter-long (65 feet), lizard whose skin is constantly redecorated with current work and inspirational items. Its jaws work as a bookshelf. The monster has already become the agency's new mascot and will appear on a T-shirt soon.
In addition to Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul, the Supermachine project team included Suchart Ouypornchaisakul, Peechaya Mekasuvanroj, Santi Sarasuphab, Kasidis Puaktes, Jetsada Phongwasin and Korthong Thongtham Na Ayutthaya. - Tuija Seipell
The interior of the headquarters for KH Gears exudes a sense of engine power, industry and technology. One can almost hear the metallic rumble of massive machinery, toiling tirelessly in a massive engine room somewhere in the not-so-distant future.
The 855 square-meter (about 9,200 sq.ft.) first phase of the 5,300 square-meter (about 57,000 sq.ft.) industrial laboratory and office space of one of the world’s largest gear producers, opened in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, in December 2011. The remainder of the space will be developed along the same design guidelines in 2013.
Hong-Kong-based Arboit, lead by founder, Italian-trained architect, Alberto Puchetti, designed the space.
The overall goal was to refresh the brand image of the well-established company, to emphasize its strong scientific heritage and the high value of its products.
Arboit used extremely crisp and large grey-tone visuals of the actual gears sparsely yet effectively to celebrate their beauty, precision and balance.
KH Gears logo green appears strategically throughout the space.
It is used on walls and in corridors as a definer of space and as an aide to directions in the large facility where clients also frequently visit the laboratories, and on parts of furniture as an accent. The green also refers to the company’s environmentally friendly policies.
As a nod to the heritage of technology, the font used in the directionals is the typical font of the early days of computers.
The shiny, dark-gray floors, coated in epoxy resin, and the partially smoked glass walls add to the feel of meticulous, laboratory-grade orderliness and efficiency. - Tuija Seipell
A fresh take on the office cubicle is possible! Just look at the fun little houses in which the 30 or so cubicle dwellers toil at this Los Angeles-based creative media agency.
Designed by Edward Ogosta Architecture, the 6,000-square-foot (558 sq.ft.) warehouse space initially appears like any big white space with particle-board detailing. But the seemingly bland interior reveals a number of clever ideas, all designed to spark create ideas and encourage interaction as well as provide privacy.
Ogosta named the design Hybrid Office to indicate that every main feature represents two supposedly unrelated things: something from the surrounding city and/or nature married with an office function.
The office cubicles are called House-Tables and their skyline represents that of a row of houses.
There’s a gathering space, an amphitheater-like area constructed with book cases called Book-Arena, and a tatami-covered thinking space called Sky-Cave. Tall, cone shaped hollow tree trunks have become chairs that provide individual privacy. - Tuija Seipell.
The offices are located on Stockholm’s luxury power-shopping boulevard, Birger Jarlsgatan, in the two loft floors of building number 9 where the street-level occupants include Agent Provocateur.
Medge is a consultancy in sports rights management, TV distribution and media operations, so it is appropriate that their 180 square-meter (1937.5 sq.ft.) digs are testosterone-induced. Dark half-paneling with its English Gentlemen’s Club vibe gives a nod to the company’s other office in London and draws the line between traditional (below) and modern (above).
A hideously ugly reddish upholstered couch/sofa in a corner seating area, and the heavy iron bars and wood beams in the ceiling give off a sense of a confidence and strength. We love the use of white paint in the uppermost areas as it contrasts powerfully with the black, and opens up the space to the skylights. Tuija Seipell.
We like this 130 square meter (1,400 sq.ft.) office for its crisp simplicity.
It is a expansion project by Alain Wong of Comodo for his company’s own office space located in Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Wong calls the project Landscape in Bustling City, a fitting name for an office located in the middle of the busy city in an area that used to be lush gardens.
Comodo’s earlier office was predominantly black and white, as is the new one, except for the natural wood used to create platforms, partitions and furnishings.
The extensive use of unfinished raw wood board creates a nice balance of function and whimsy, and brings a sense of the outdoors inside. Natural light streams into much of the space through glass partitions. - Tuija Seipell.
If we at TCH were to establish a new office, this is what it could look like. A clean, minimalist space, with a touch of history and elegance.
The 150 square meter office is located in Kortrijk, Belgium, in a historically important, restored textile weaving factory from the early part of 1900.
Vincent Van Duysen Architects handled not only the restoration of the space but also the interior design, and the design of much of the furniture.
The office consists of a large main space and smaller offices for the four staff members. Most interesting about this elegant project is the fact that the office is not for a design studio or architectural firm, but for Belgo-Seeds, a business involved in global importing and exporting of agricultural products, especially seeds. A shelving unit with beautifully lit glass containers of seeds is the only direct reference to this.
The brick ceiling and cast-iron columns are restored nods to the industrial past of the building, while the dark timber wall paneling, light oak floors and soft hues of fabrics and furnishings add a comfortable feel.
Most of the furniture was custom-designed by Vincent Van Duysen including the desks, all storage units and the pendant lighting. The office chair used in this project is the brown leather version Van Duysen’s design for Bulo. The coffee table is a custom version of Van Duysen’s Surface for B&B Italia:.
We love the lack of visual noise; the spaciousness, openness and sophistication achieved with the intelligent use of glass, screens and lighting. - Tuija Seipell
Photographer: Thomas De Bruyne
If only we had a spare historic Barchessa in Italy and an extra million lying about, we, too, would build an office and showroom, just like fashion house Rubens Luciano’s in Villa Gritti, Stra, near Venice.
We’ve covered many a gorgeous office over the years in our quest for the world’s coolest offices, and although many of them a grand in scale and lavish in budget, each one has ideas just waiting for any of us to emulate in our own, perhaps more modest, surroundings.
In the case of the Rubens Luciano office, architect Simone Micheli mastered several copy-worthy feats: The use of natural light and glass to create the feeling of openness; the combination of old and new in a way that is not pretentious; and the exquisite attention to detail.
Several of Micheli’s other hallmarks are also visible in this project: smooth, flowing lines; shiny, seamless surfaces; rounded edges; and organic-looking, bulbous shapes. We also love the meticulous detailing and the minimalist, clean overall look.
The four-year-long renovation collaboration between Simone Micheli and his friends, fashion-house founders Rubens and Luciano, was unveiled at a great party on September 1, a date that also marked the 49th birthday of the architect. - Tuija Seipell.
Our fascination with cool offices continues. This time, we are attracted to a Victorian building in Dublin.
This past June, after only six months of elaborate reconstruction and renovation, global insurance firm XL Group plc moved into one of the most prestigious addresses in Dublin, Ireland.
The former private club building at Number 8 St. Stephen’s Green is a protected structure, which made the job of RKD Architects that much more challenging.
RKD’s not-so-easy task was to respect the original building and its later reiterations, while making sure XL Group’s staff and management had all the tools and comforts of a modern office.
The building dates back to 1792 when it was constructed as an imposing, five-bay, four-storeys- over-basement residence for Lord Mountgarrat. From 1847 to 2003, it was owned by the Hibernian United Services Club and operated as a private club.
After the 6.5 million Euro (about $8.2 mil. US) renovation, the grand scale, elegance and drama of a private gentlemen’s club are still intact, and the unseemly practicalities of air conditioning, IT and plumbing are discreetly and stylishly hidden behind cabinetry and other structures.
Reinforcing and restoring the best parts of the building has left, for example, the grand Portland-stone staircase as the central eye-catcher at the entrance, and given the staff and clients an impressive environment that demands attention.
We love the ceilings, the exposed brick, and the mirrors and subtle insertions of color in the modern offices.
In even the most updated of the spaces, there is some aspect that reminds of the past and shows off the peculiarities of the grand, old building. - Tuija Seipell.
Walls don’t often strike us as exciting, but in this office project for ON Headquarters, located west of Mexico City, we really do like the large surfaces. We also like the subtle, elegant lighting, and the subdued color scheme.
ON provides services to the oil and gas industry, so the designers at LSA Arquitectos and BLANCASMORAN (Imanol Legorreta Molina, Pablo Sepúlveda de Yturbe and Abel Blancas Morán) selected surface materials and textures that reflect the passing of time.
The boardroom exterior walls and the directors offices are covered in walnut veneer, the lobby walls and the customised assistants’ blocks in the concourse are of Iranian Travertine marble, and the interior walls of the boardroom are of wool fabric.
The floors in the lobby and concourse are covered with metal sheeting, and in the directors’ offices with oak.
Much of the furniture is custom-made, including the welcome desk that is made of metal sheeting and black Emperador marble. The chairs are desks are by VITRA and the lighting by Construlita, Delta Light and Tom Dixon.
The overall effect the designers have accomlished in this 780 square-meter (8,395 sq.ft) space is calm, opulent and restrained. - Tuija Seipell. (Images by Rafael Gamo)
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We have yet to experience anything even closely equal to our incredible six days at Castello di Reschio in Umbria.
So it should not have come as a surprise to us that their office building would turn out to be stunning as well.
But it just feels somehow unfair that some people really do get to call this restored 1940s tobacco processing factory as their everyday office.
Late last summer, Count Benedikt Bolza, the talented managing director and chief architect of the Castello di Reschio estate, and his team finished the restoration of the estate’s tobacco factory building so that the estate offices, design studio, workshops and exhibitions could move in.
Heritage and history are exquisitely balanced with contemporary style and cool elegance, yet the space does not feel pretentious or contrived. It feels completely natural; there is a sense of ease, as if it had always been like this.
Part of the reason for this is that Bolza left several key elements of the industrial building intact. For example, the stairs that lead to the offices where 13 team members now work are exactly as they were when more than 50 factory workers sorted tobacco here on long wooden tables – many of which are now in the estate’s private restaurant, Osteria.
Reclaimed and repurposed steel, wood, stone and other elements are prominent throughout the estate and in the Tabaccaia as well. Our favorites are the large floor lamps made of reclaimed heaters Bolza found at the Tabaccaia, and topped with perforated stainless steel sheet shades. Another favorite are the large sculptural rings hanging from the ceiling. They are repurposed wine barrel rings from the castle’s wine cellars.
Bolza says that although sound proofing was initially a concern in this hard-surfaced space, it has actually been a blessing in disguise. Repurposed wide wooden planks help muffle sound throughout the open space but no additional sound-proofing was needed “because the magic is that everybody talks at low level creating a sort of spiritual working environment. It is quite amazing and all are in such good working mode because of it,” he says.
And while it may seem that the team is roughing it in this rustic environment, under-floor heating and LED lighting throughout bring the comfort level well beyond that of most ordinary offices. - Tuija Seipell.
In our working lives, we are in many ways still stuck in the age of the Industrial Revolution. When the masses worked in factories, the office support personnel worked the same hours, or at least “regular working hours” and commuted daily to central offices.
Perhaps there was a sense that all workers needed to be under the watchful eye of the Master and therefore they needed to gather in one place to be supervised, like kids in school? Are we not past that phase?
We are challenging every single person to take responsibility for his or her own working environment. Let’s stop behaving as if we were still in the 1780s, looking for the masters to recognize our office sucks. Yes, it sucks, but what are you going to do about it?
At The Cool Hunter, we have been writing about interesting offices for a decade. Luckily, we are now well past the “ping-pong table in the hallway, M&Ms in the bowl, beer in the fridge” - stage of office enhancement, and we are actually seeing some real, meaningful change in our working environments.
But it is still too focused on just the so-called creative sectors (are there still sectors that are non-creative??) and the office-space upgrades are often seen as just gimmicks or additional perks , not something crucial that actually affects the results of our work.
Science is now proving this short-sightedness wrong, and we are calling for everyone to take charge. Do we even need an office? What we need to do is focus on results, not on hours worked, or worse yet, hours being in the office. Where-ever we work, we will be more productive and happier when we work in an environment we love.
Let’s start tomorrow
Let’s all start tomorrow by looking at our own working environment and coming up with at least four ways in which we can change it for the better ourselves. Bring in that new plant, or that favourite piece of art, or the comfy red chair, or the cool desk light, or the oriental carpet. See if anyone notices?
We bet the entire office will start to change once someone cares enough to start it. We cannot wait for the employers to take it on as they will likely see it as a cost. It does not have to cost a single penny to the employer and, when it does, the positive results will far outweigh the costs.
And, in the end, why are we even looking at it as an additional cost when all indicators point to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, better morale, higher creativity and so on?
Central offices, open plans
Today, with the nature of work significantly altered, we still commute to central offices as a residue from the days of the Industrial Revolution. We now spend our days in open-concept offices wearing headphones to cut out the distractions, and texting and emailing our co-workers sitting just beyond our cubicle.
According to some estimates, nearly 70 per cent of us now spend our days in open-concept offices, a bad idea conceived and promoted by the American mechanical engineer Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) who called people “units of production” and promoted maximum efficiency at almost any cost.
Open-concept offices were designed for productivity of both workers and space but we know now that they have failed on both accounts.
What exactly is the point of gathering up – at great cost to the environment and ourselves – daily in a boring office building, if the one thing that it gives us - being face-to-face with our coworkers - isn’t even relevant any more, or isn’t possible or natural in a distracted and stressed out environment?
There is now significant scientific evidence that open-concept offices are not good for productivity, do not increase workplace happiness and in fact fail by any measure to meet the needs of today’s creative, focused, results-oriented team. And this applies to workers of any age, including the multi-tasking younger generations.
Clearly, today’s workplaces need to change quickly. We have had time to reconsider ,and yet so many of us are still working in environments that are not stimulating, interesting or helpful in any way to produce the results we are expected to produce.
And of course, our working habits ARE slowly changing, but not at a speed or scale they should and could. We are working at home, free-agenting, telecommuting, flexible-work-daying. But in many cases, we also need to gather in an office.
Many organizations around the world are taking a serious look at the nature of work today and coming to the same conclusions: What matters in a project-oriented, results-oriented, collaborative workplace is the tone that the environment sets. Just like packaging matters in products, the package inside which we create our product, be it ideas or services or products, affects how we feel about our work. And our role within the company.
We have all read about the famous example of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, that Walt Disney built with the proceeds from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The entire campus on the site was custom-designed by Ken Weber with the help of Walt and his brother Roy, and purpose-built in 1940 for the process of animation, with ideal natural light conditions, theatres, sound stages, inking rooms, a state-of-the-art commissary, and lots of green space and benches. It was a campus designed to encourage creativity, efficiency and collaboration. It was an ideal working environment
Another famous example with similar goals is the Pixar Campus in Emeryville, California, custom-created with Steve Jobs’s personal supervision in 2000 . From central gathering places and all-encompassing services to individually personalized offices, the Pixar Campus (owned by Disney) has become the destination for all who want to witness a cool, caring and fun workplace.
These are exceptions, of course, as both are large, creative companies and fature new custom-designed buildings. Most of us will not have the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful experience. But we can do a lot about our own environment. Let’s all – both employer and employee - start paying attention to the office.
Why are we working where we are? Why are the offices the way they are? Could we all sit down and brainstorm ideas about quick, inexpensive ways to make changes? What if we all came in one weekend and painted the walls? What if each of us really put some effort into creating our own space to mirror our own interests and passions?
What if we set a goal to fix what ails our working environment? And, more important, how long are we willing to do nothing and pretend it does not matter? - Tuija Seipell.
Images via our offices section
Flamingo Shanghai’s swanky new office, The Attic, is a grand example of how the intelligent use of scale and natural light, and the minimalist approach to materials can create cohesive unity that looks both fresh and imbued with patina.
Shanghai-based Neri&Hu effected their special brand of design philosophy on this cavernous industrial 620 square-meter (6673 sq.ft.) attic, and created a dark-hued and angular open-concept office for the creative agency. The attic includes offices, conference space, exhibit space, observation areas, quiet room and kitchen.
The hard materials and cold surfaces project efficiency and focus. We assume that the natural light through the large skylight windows, together with the presence of people, will balance those aspects with softness and creative life energy.
Husband-and-wife duo, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu established their own design and architecture practice Neri&Hu in Shanghai in 2004 after having moved to China two years earlier to work with Michael Graves. The Philippines-born Neri (b. 1965) has architecture degrees from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. Taiwan-born Hu (b. 1968) was trained at Princeton. - Tuija Seipell.
We are now officially suffering from office envy and the object of our feelings is located in Poland, in a former cable factory in Zabłocie, a post-industrial district in Kraków. It was designed for the web technology consulting firm u2i by architect and urban planner Justyna Friedberg of Kraków-based Morpho Studio.
The obvious breathing room – so often lacking in offices – is clearly evident here. White, ash wood, natural light. Somehow we can imagine thoughts flying freer in a space like this, with this much openness and light.
The real gem of the 800 square-meter (8,611 sq.ft.) office, and the part we covet the most, is the central indoor porch, or chill zone, with its swing and potted plants. A simple, fresh idea, beautifully executed.
We suspect that herbs and favorite flowers will be grown here by the team, and that it will turn out to be not just a passive space with the surroundings fitted and provided by someone else, but that it actually will live as a real porch or garden where people can putter around and exercise their green thumbs. Or just chill in the swing.
With this open porch, the basic, large, rectangular space has become more of an environment and less of a set of offices. And what we like most is that the porch does not have the omnipresent sad pool tables or soft-drink dispensers that still seem to denote “cool office” to some. - Tuija Seipell.
Architect and designer Helle Flou, founder of Copenhagen-based HelleFlou, was responsible for the design of the offices for the Danish Fashion and Textile association (Dansk Mode og Textil) and Kopenhagen Fur.
The offices are located in the fabulous 1835-built, heritage-listed A.N.Hansen mansion at the corner of Fredericiagade and Bredgade in the Fredriksstaden neighbourhood of central Copenhagen.
The move together of the two organizations established a anew home and innovation centre for their cooperative effort called KicK initiative(Kopenhagen Internationle Center for Kreativitet). KiCK’s focus is on collaboration between the European and Chinese fashion industry.
Flou’s design reflects the idea of a “Nordic Diamond.” In an interview, Flou was quoted as saying that she was inspired by “. . . the Nordic nature and a special Scandinavian light that gives a strong sense of history, atmosphere and experience. . . The diamond is hardy, but at the same time extremely elegant; with its beautiful facets it creates rigorous order and transparency at the same time. The two elements have jointly created the guidelines for a balanced and harmonious space.”
We agree. The neo-classical frame of the building is evident in the staircases, doorways and gold-painted accents and friezes. Contemporary and classic Danish designer furniture and fixtures fit seamlessly in the black & white, gold & gray color scheme, and also help establish a level of easy and cool comfort. Natural light finishes off the harmonious, spacious design. - Tuija Seipell