When you walk into the Los Angeles offices of Thornton Tomessti, an international engineering company, it's hard not to notice the floating reception desk situated in front of a bright green mural bearing the company's name. Upon further inspection, the mural actually pays homage to the company's line of business: the bright green dots are actually safety caps for steel rebar. The clients were "keen on celebrating the creativity and ingenuity that 'good' structural engineering offers," notes Koning Eizenberg, the architecture firm behind the space. (Continued)
Certainly, the choice of color matters for your office, but perhaps more importantly (and interestingly), color can be used as a device to tell a story. At Thornton Tomessti, the designers used green and blue accents to separate public spaces from private spaces, in order to organize the space and even direct work flow. The color scheme also reverberates with clients. "Initially directed at establishing a creative culture to attract and maintain staff, this interest expanded into a marketing strategy that would appeal to clients."
No one likes to work in a noisy office. So when Amsterdam-based i29 interior architects were brought in to design Tribal DDB's office, it started thinking of creative ways to mute the clamor that make it difficult for people to concentrate on projects. The result? The designers used fabric on non-traditional surfaces, including the office's ceilings, lamps, and structural components, which effectively muffles the sound. "It is perfect for absorbing sound and therefore it creates privacy in open spaces," the designers write. "It is playful, and can make a powerful image on a conceptual level." (Continued)
While the monochromatic fabric offers a legitimate function for the office, it also delivers a powerful design aesthetic. Namely, the use of fabric creates a calming sense simplicity. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the designers say the lack of traditional design elements (art, props, etc.) actually enhance the power of the space. In other words, less is more. "The result of being very selective is that you have to push the one choice to the limit," the architects explain. "It also provides a field of tension, and gives energy to a space…But more importantly it leaves you with a charismatic environment."
No Picnic, which is based in Stockholm, and is one of the world's largest design consultants, turned two 19th Century buildings (originally an exercise hall for police troops and a horse stable) into its headquarters. Through a meticulous restoration process, Swedish architects Elding Oscarson converted the space using reflecting glass walls to encase the conference rooms, creating an alluring, if not somewhat perplexing, design. "The flat reflection of the glass appearing flush with the distorting metal surface makes the glass seem like a mirror while the metal appears transparent," the architects write. "The wall is there, yet it disappears." (Continued)
While the mirrored glass offers a refreshing, modern aesthetic, the architects were careful to preserve some of the space's original feeling. So while the new materials make the workplace modern, and comfortable for today's workers, the architects paid special attention to highlight "the light and space of the exercise hall, the old building's straightforward display of material, construction, [and] imperfections."
Here's one way to explain Missing Link's office: "A riot of color and carefully orchestrated chaos." The Johannesburg-based company, which designs corporate presentations, had just six weeks to take the space from design concept to reality, but used the limited timeframe to dig up salvaged finds to create a truly eclectic look. And if Tribal DDB focused on minimalism, Missing Link went the opposite route entirely: a mash-up of bathtubs, graffiti, and even a tree house to achieve an overwhelming—yet cohesive—design experiment. (Continued)
The materials and activities you choose to include in your office set the tone for how employees treat their work. For Missing Link, which prides itself on its employees' relentless creativity, that means building in an in-house tattoo parlor, a fire pole, and even a shooting range (intended to relieve employees' stress, of course). After all, as the design team puts it: "If you're going to spend most of your life at the office, you should work in an office you love."