Our research often takes us away from good Graphic Design in Newcastle. As you’d expect, the web allows us to scour the globe looking at competitors, successful examples and just inspiration in general. This is the next post in our series of global round ups on things that we’ve seen and liked.
In the late 1960s, designer Robert Propst proposed a reinvention of the modern office space – it was called Action Office. The concept was one of flexibility and individualisation, freeing the humble office worker to create their own workspace using modular furniture and thereby increasing productivity. In reality, the panels, pinboards and filing units were repetitively locked in place by managers eager to maximise floor space – so was born the ‘cubicle farm’.
The inevitable reaction to these crammed workspaces came in the late 1980s with the open-plan office. Despite its popularity, the open plan layout is still somewhat contentious. It has since been partially usurped by a new ideology based on a workplace of varied, creative zones encouraging both individual and collaborative working. Here’s our list of some of the best examples of this new breed of office space (click on the images to see more information):
Adams & Knight
It should be said from the off that if you’re not a big fan of retro styling and 50s/60s American aesthetics, then this may not be your idea of a great workspace. But there is an effective mixture of homage and functionality here with the clever use of warm, orange-wood trims, fresh pastel walls, sparing use of neon strip lighting and playful use of gas station signage and movie posters. Only in the canteen has the interior designer let loose with a spasm of Route-66-diner nostalgia. Plus there’s a full cinema room to round off the fun, vintage Americana theme.
For employees at Heldergroen, a good work-life balance is essential. Which is why they all stop working at 6pm on the dot every day. They need to because that’s the time that the desks – along with the computers and any paperwork on them – lift into the air and lock in place in the ceiling. The desks – made from local reclaimed telegraph poles – are fastened with steel cable and a pulley system which lifts the tops out of the way. With no desks or computers around, the office space is made available in the evenings for yoga sessions, dance classes or networking parties. A fantastic way to combat overworking.
As its name suggests, Inventionland is a company that deals with inventions – design, R&D, prototyping, manufacturing and patenting. And what better way to stimulate those great ideas than to work in a massive theme park. So if you’re looking for the next great children’s toy, do your thinking in Nursery Nook, the life size shoe-house. Or if you’re searching for an idea for a hi-tech game, try brainstorming on the Pirate Ship Discovery. And when devising a great outdoor-themed product, you can plan your project in Creativity Cavern, complete with rushing waterfall. Like working every day in a miniature Disneyland.
Event Brite began the development of their new offices by requesting input from their employees on what they’d want in their workplace – ideas were posted on Pinterest. So the building features both seating and standing desks positioned next to huge windows to maximise the streaming sunlight. There is a fully stocked kitchen and a cafe with a stage for presentations and shows; minimally furnished quiet rooms for undisturbed working; cubby holes with hammocks for relaxed conference calls; and stadium-style seating with sockets for laptops and footstools for kicking back. The decor is clean, spacious and, as per the company name, bright.
This ‘office building’ is home to The Chive online entertainment company along with a brewery & beer line, and Chive Charities. It’s not the first or only office space to house a slide (it’s almost a given that Google will have one in any new office it opens) but few manage to incorporate the feature so sympathectially into the rest of the decor. The workplace is designed like a home, with wide staircases, open plan lounges with sofas, dining areas and even a bar. It manages to incorporate the fun (hence the slide) and relaxation without resorting to gaudy colours and wacky layouts. Like a really upmarket, luxury flatshare. For work.
This office is less about the interior decoration or furniture, and more about the outside landscape. The huge run of windows frames the beautiful neighbouring countryside of Bedfordshire, the trees and rolling hills serving as greater inspiration to the employees than any slide ever could. Inside, the Long Barn Studio encourages creativity not through fun furniture or unexpected layouts, but through elegant styling, sensitive use of timber and wenge and a high quality attention to detail. The building also benefits from rainwater harvesting, a wind turbine and air-heat recovery system. And an outdoor patio to further take advantage of those views.
Converted from an old anti-atomic shelter and located 30 meters beneath the rock in Vita Berg Park, Stockholm, White Mountain is an amazing office space. Primarily housing data banks, there are also employee working areas such as the circular glass room built into the granite ceiling and accessed by an elevated glass tunnel walkway. The architects apparently referenced the set designs of Ken Adams and films such as ‘Silent Running’ in their development and it absolutely shows – this has evil genius written all over it.
Housed in a classic Art Deco building in San Francisco, the Yelp Headquarters features both standard open plan workspaces with long desks and rows of monitors, as well as individualised spaces (called The Tool Shed, The Library and the Ski Resort) for small-scale employee collaboration and a free cafe with window seating. The centrepiece of this office ‘campus’ is the old-fashioned General Store with gold-lettered glass doors, wooden partitions and filled with glass jars of sweets, vintage memorabilia and an antique cash register. Playful and relaxed without being crazy and brash.
The employees at Idea Paint’s offices in Boston live their work. Pioneers of whiteboards and dry erase wall coverings, it’s no surprise that their workspace should be a perfect example of their products at work. The office layouts follow a similar theme to many on this list with a mix of private and collaborative spaces. But what sets these spaces apart is that all the walls – and some furniture surfaces – utilise the company’s dry erase coatings and transform them into writing surfaces for immediate idea generation and brainstorming. There’s no need to book a meeting room or rush back to your laptop if that ‘Eureka!’ moment hits – just scribble it down on the wall.
Like the Nicholas Tye offices, this is a workspace that benefits from its connection with nature. Whereas Nicholas Tye relied on the breathtaking vistas seen through a facing wall of glass, this office for the Spanish architecture firm Selgas Cano is more about getting up close and personal with the countryside. Being literally entrenched in the woods of Madrid means the building is well-insulated, reducing the need for air-conditioning or heating. Accessed by wooden walkways, the tubular office is bright and fresh inside with a curved plexiglass section looking out on the woodland above. About as close to nature as you can get without setting up your desk outside.
When Evernote expanded their offices from one floor to two, there was a worry about how to encourage interactivity between the levels. The primary solution is the staircase – broad and open and split between regular steps and cushioned seating, allowing it to be used for meetings as well as travelling between floors. Evernote’s offices also lack a conventional reception area, replacing it instead with a coffee bar and barista who can give you directions or serve you a doughnut – the whole building is centred around encouraging employees to move around and interact.