Offices

Offices

June 11 2008



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.

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Offices

June 2 2008



At the end of last year we filled you in briefly on the evolution of office design from autonomous, uninspiring closed spaces to the ubiquitous cube and finally the latest incarnation of creative, motivational and dynamic workable environments.  And now we’re back to tell you about one of the latest projects from the architecture and design firm Camenzind Evolution: Google Zurich.

And what is truly remarkable about this project is that Carmenzind Evolution delivered exactly what Google desired, while not exceeding the costs of many conventional interior office fit-outs.  The design team began by working closely with Google through the pre-design process by interviewing all 350 employees with the intention of incorporating their ideas into a new workspace.  Because many companies spend excessive amounts on furniture and finishes that have nothing to do with how the employees work and interact within the space, the final design resulted in elements from which the so-called ‘Zooglers’ would benefit most.



Stefan Camenzind, the design firm’s founding partner, reveals the essential considerations that led to the innovative creation for the new office space in Zurich: staff knows better than a management committee what works best based on personality types; flexibility of space allows employees take ownership and feel like they belong; communal areas can and should be outlandish and inspiring; bold, clean colour will successfully change the character of the room; cash is always well-spent on an extraordinary coffee machine rather than on soda or junk food; and finally, it’s OK and even recommended to splurge on a few signature items rather than going all out on carpet, furniture and chairs, all of which can amount to spending too much on the stuff no one notices anyway.



Keeping all that in mind, let’s dissect Google’s new EMEA Engineering Hub located within walking distance of Zurich city centre in the ‘Hurlimann Areal.’  The building was originally a brewery that has been converted in to a vibrant mixed-use development of residential and commercial spaces, including shops and a spa hotel. The Google offices comprise seven storeys of 12,000 square metres of floor space for up to 800 employees.

A diverse team of Zooglers was assembled and represented the entire staff by approving and rejecting nearly every aspect of the interior fit-out.  Carmenzind Evolution was never given a specific design brief, but instead followed the directions and recommendations given by the steering committee.  Another unique element included in the design process was the involvement of a psychologist who administered a survey to each employee identifying both emotional and practical requirement of the Zooglers.



The final design strategy involved the creation of highly functional, yet somewhat basic individual workspace surrounded by proportionally larger, highly stimulating communal areas and meeting spaces.  Open-plan workspaces were created for 8-10 employees, whilst glass-partitioned offices were built for smaller work teams allowing for both transparency and light from the outside, as well as creating the required degree of privacy from within.  And because the average Google worker moves workstations twice a year, each area has to be exceedingly flexibly and adaptable. 

Every floor is individually themed and colour-coded allowing for effortless orientation.  The fifth floor, the history floor, was designed to resemble an old library parlor.  The meeting room has large overstuffed sofas and chairs, dark, velvet curtains, a fireplace and a chandelier.  The fourth floor is the green floor — the environment floor.  The communal spaces have large, cocoon-like meeting areas amidst a forest of tree trunks.  Zooglers can slide down a pole from the floor above into the space.  And the third floor’s theme is Switzerland.  The floors have carpets that look like snow, and ski gondolas have been converted into meeting spaces.  Igloo Satellite Cabins allow work teams to close themselves off to their surroundings and attend videoconferences with peers around the world. 



Other noteworthy communal areas include an aquarium water lounge where workers can chill out in foam-brick-filled bathtubs; a massage spa and a games room to play billiards, foosball and other video games; the Milliways cafeteria accessible via a large spiral slide where chefs use local produce to offer fresh meals; and a fitness studio offering group yoga and Pilates classes.  And as each communal area is dispersed throughout the seven floors, Zooglers are encouraged to circulate and explore thereby increasing their interaction and communication with co-workers from every department. 

We have to admit we’re huge fans of socially-inclusive design processes — and the design team at Carmenzind Evolution were dedicated to insuring the wants and needs of each Google employee in Zurich were met — and usually even exceeded.  Google, of course, is a highly innovative and effervescent company where their new relaxed work environment will undoubtedly inspire and motivate Zooglers to keep the company moving forward while conceiving provoking initiatives. By Andrew J Wiener.





Offices

April 8 2008



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

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Offices

April 5 2006


The trend for private "boutique rooms" has spread from bars to all sorts of high end entertainment establishments. As we reported last month, the quirkiest of the current crop lot is London's, 'All Star Lanes' where patrons can enjoy a game of bowls in a private lane decked out like a super stylish bar. Set to topple All Star Lanes from its throne is the fabulous new Lucky Voice Private Karaoke. As the name suggests, the London establishment offers nine private rooms where patrons can sing their hearts out in a sleek space while sipping equally sleek cocktails. Go forth and live out your pop star dreams. by Lisa Evans

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