From ski gondola meeting rooms to sleeping nooks – join us on a tour at some of the most spectacular office interiors on the planet.
Capital One Labs – San Francisco, USA
Not your average financial institution office! Capital One Labs – the company designing apps for its parent bank is residing a 3,500-square-foot office in San Francisco – an utterly creative space, springing colours and innovation from every angle. The dynamic interior absorbs the entire space with clever arrangement and bold colour, intentionally positioned to foster innovative spirit as well as collaboration and team work.
The architect firm responsible for the unique workplace design, Studio O+A, describes the central yellow staircase as “rustic drama”. As one of the main designer’s Alma Lopez states:
You’re creating an experience coming down those stairs.
The playful features of the space also include elevated sleeping nooks, which you can reach by a ladder, very much like the one leading to your backyard tree house. The diagonal beams that cut through the open plan space are a clever design trick, which makes the venue feel larger.
The bright neon colours, mostly apparent in the common areas, reflect the creative spirit of the team and the company culture. Inspiring and provoking the imagination, the colour pallet makes a bold statement, making this office environment inimitably fresh.
Google, Zurich, Switzerland
Eclectic and utterly creative, Google’s office in Zurich reminds of a playground rather than an office place. With elaborately themed rooms, and all sorts of odd and playful touched, Google’s unique workplaces around the world have become a signature feature of the company’s culture.
Google’s engineering hub in Zurich was designed by the Camenzind Evolution architect firm, which incorporated tons of fun features making the outlook of the space almost surreal. And it has everything – from game rooms, micro conference rooms, snack room, jungle rooms, relax rooms with aquariums, and of course space for work .
The space is a triumph of the imagination. It comprises so many diverse elements and themes, which challenge our standard perception of an office space and makes us wonder is it all a game. With ski gondolas as meeting rooms, massage rooms for relaxation and slides taking you to the restaurant for lunch, this Google office revolutionizes the rules of the workspace, creating a fusion between work and play.
Selgas Cano Architecture Office, Madrid, Spain
Spanish Architect firm Selgas Cano resides in this spectacular , self-designed office amongst the woods near Madrid in Spain. The tunnel like space comprises a transparent acrylic forms which open the space to the surrounding nature integrating the beautiful colours of the forest in the interior. This also contributes to the abundance of natural light streaming through the glass roof.
This workplace is half underground leveling your horizon with the ground of the forest. This also ensures perfect heat insulation, accustomed to the souring summer temperatures in Madrid.
The space serves as an inspiration for all the architects working here. Feeding their imagination directly from the landscape around them, the fantastic venue makes you feel as part of nature.
It is a well-known fact that plants lower workplace stress and enhance productivity. The importance of having greenery around us has been the subject of numerous studies, examining the effects that plants have on our work habits, and mood.
Recent studies conducted by Dr. Virginia Lohr conclude that participants working in an environment with plants were 12% more productive and less stressed than those who were simply surrounded by concrete walls. The study took place in a simulated office environment, where plants were the only variable. The interesting results also indicated that an environment with plants also has an influence on the blood pressure. According to Dr. Ultrich:
Visual exposure to plant settings produces significant recovery from stress within 5 minutes.
Another advantage of surrounding your office with floras is that they are proven to lower the operation and maintenance costs of your workplace. Plants, and their unique process of transpiration, have the ability to cool air temperature by 10 decrees. What’s more, this same process humidifies the air in a range of 30-60% – the recommended human comfort range. This might also act as a protection for your office furniture as we are all aware that if the relative humidity of the office is either too low or too high this might damage the furniture and your office interior.
Employees and clients are getting more selective in the overall look, design and feel of your office space. Plants offer a dramatic aesthetic value to your interior, positively enhancing perception and contributing to the well being of your employees. At the same time studies show that building lacking greenery are instantly viewed as less attractive and less welcoming.
Having plants in your office is also a key factor in enhancing the attitude of your employees and clients. As today’s workplace is getting more and more competitive, survey report that employees need an inspiring setting for their “off” time. This is why companies are continuously investing in improving their space landscape, offering an interior that integrates nature.
Tap into the future of the work desk with the innovative prototype called BendDesk. Conceptualised by the media-computing group at RWTH Aachen University the BendDesk integrates a screen and multi-touch surface into a single unit interactive display with a curved vertical and a horizontal plane. This innovative workstation is in direct response with the growing digital demand of our jobs and is taking the desk, as we know it, to a different level. The multi-touch technology allows for many users to type and work simultaneously making the BendDesk ideal for productive coworking. You can navigate, sort your documents and organize your work just by multi-touch gestures, which nowadays is slowly becoming the norm with all digital devices.
Who said the work place is going mobile. We believe the desk is here to stay and will be going through an upgrade.
Platform 5 is an award winning architectural practice founded in 2006. They have a diverse portfolio of projects in the residential, education, commercial and cultural sectors. The firm designed the Shoffice (shed + office), a garden pavilion containing a small office alongside garden storage space. The glazed office space nestles into an extruded timber elliptical shell, reminiscent of a wood shaving that unfurls to form a small terrace in the lawn. The interior is oak lined and fitted out with a cantilevered desk and storage.
The way the modern office has developed has meant that flexibility is more important that ever before. Often our desks can be full of the latest gadgets, documents, books and much much more. With all these things, life can get a bit cluttered, and I for one can find it difficult to concentrate when all I need is a simple writing space to jot down my thoughts. This is why the Connect-It Tablet Desk is such a wonderful idea, the desk is made by Monarch Specialties and combines a sleek low-profile desk with plenty of hidden storage compartments for hiding all that clutter. In addition, it’s got a set of built-in slots for organising the mass of wires that regularly snake their way around your workspace, so you don’t have to put in a lot of effort tidying up chargers, cables and power hubs.
The farmhouse workstation was developed by Software Advice‘s Don Fornes, in collaboration with Wendy Dunnam Tita at Dunnam Tita Architecture + Interiors. The principle design tenant was openness, the aim was to furnish collaboration and coworking. As with all open workspaces, it was important not to stifle collaboration, but at the same time balance this against the need for quiet work areas that allow private contemplation.
The farmhouse table was created to be a multi-purpose workstation, with its inspiration coming from large French farmhouse tables. Employees would have enough room to have their own designated workspace, but at the time time there would be no hinderance to inter-employee interaction.
In a cubicle-oriented workspace, employees are often cramped in close quarters, with their personal space dictated by wall partitions. In this open workspace, personal space is designated by just that: ample room for each person. Through the size of these workstations, we allowed for both personal space and collaboration at the same time.
In keeping with the spirit of openness and collaboration, Software Advice decided to open-source the plans for these tables here under a Creative Commons license, so that you can take the plans to your local craftsman and have them built too.
Feiz Design Studio designed the Alpha desk programme for the Dutch furniture company Kembo. The design was a direct response to the changing ethos of the office, allowing for greater flexibility and more freedom. Great office furniture adapts to the requirements of the working environment in which employees find themselves, and this fully height adjustable table system does just that. Not only does this desk look amazing, research has show that by changing one’s posture throughout the day, significant health and well-being benefits can be gleaned.
as work tools become smaller, smarter and more flexible, so too should the furniture. modern offices are rapidly evolving as technology, working patterns, space allocation, and mobility create new attitudes towards the ways in which work is achieved.
Virtual Skylights Improve Staff Well-being
In leading companies around the world employees are finding an attractive sight deep inside their buildings. Virtual skylights and landscapes are starting to appear in conference rooms and cafeterias, populating enclosed interiors as high-tech avatars of nature. These fine art biophilic features are the ideal alternative in areas where, by design or function, it’s not possible to bring forth the healing properties of green outdoor views.
It’s been almost 30 years since Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson introduced the Biophilia Hypothesis. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of studies that document the positive impact of nature in our physiology and psycho emotional disposition. The rise of biophilic design has made architects and designers well aware of the sustainable benefits of incorporating views to nature into our built environment.
However, a vast majority of existing buildings have no views of nature in their enclosed interiors. Thus, the idea of simulations, the creation of illusions of nature in artificial spaces to connect with the natural environment for wellness and cognitive restoration has taken hold with remarkable results.
Throughout history visual artists have used clever illustration techniques to conjure depth through the astute combination of scale, perspective and contrast. Add to these techniques the use of high resolution photography and carefully calibrated color light temperature, and the subtle hues and saturation of real skies can be convincingly forged.
The technique of engineering illusions at the hands of fine art and technology artists unveils a new tool for workplace design, one that uses the blueprint of human perception. By using the brain’s inherent ability to fill in the gaps of a well-designed visual puzzle, the Sky Factory –a small company based in southeast Iowa, USA- creates photographic images that are perceived as having an additional dimension, depth.
Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings™, the company’s virtual skylights, are sophisticated illusions. They serve a healing purpose as an innovative application of biophilic design. In fact, evidence-based design has found that looking at realistic imagery of nature evokes the same relaxation response and calming influence in the physiology that real panoramas of nature command.
At the French Railroad Network Operations Center in Paris, where staff is surrounded by dozens of monitors and control panels that keep the pulse of passenger train traffic rolling through the French capital, the office has no windows or access to the outdoors.
Throughout the day, one of the half dozen operators on duty will take a high stakes call with a station manager or platform engineer. During these important exchanges, operators will sometimes exhale in relief and ease back in their chairs, eyes naturally gravitating to the ceiling where their gaze meets the deep blue skies and white clouds that appear to float behind a few leafy branches that emerge from the edge of the 4” X 8” skylight above the operation center.
Inside this control room, teeming with colorful warning lights and live video feeds of train tracks, this skylight is the operators’ only connection to the natural environment. The skylight, a serene and harmonious focal point, becomes a visual oasis for engineers who can benefit from the occasional respite after hours of methodical focus on the arteries of the vast French Railroad Network.
Interestingly enough, what employees sometimes forget is that the skyline above their heads is not real. The visual cues their eyes and brain receive create the uncanny sensation of expanded space above their heads. It feels real, triggering a physiological relaxation response.
Dating back to Greco-Roman times, skilled artists conjured ways to trick the eye into seeing architectural features that weren’t part of the three dimensional structure. Later, during the early Renaissance, artists painted windows in walls and cupolas in ceilings that blurred the line between architecture and illusion through the clever use of perspective and scale.
Applying the compositional sophistication of art history’s masters in a high resolution matrix where sections of the image cross the foreground element of a ceiling grid, forces the mind to fill in the missing information. This cognitive principle is called “amodal perception” and the enhanced perception of depth gives rise to biophilic illusions of nature™ that are experienced as real.
This curious ability, what neuroscientists call our habits of perception, are the cognitive means through which magicians pull their fantastic illusions and through which a masterful two-dimensional image can appear as a three-dimensional window.
Sky Factory, a global fine arts and technology company specializing in virtual skylights and windows, sponsored a research project at Texas Tech University’s Neuroimaging Institute. The results from the study have so far surprised researchers and indicate that Sky Factory’s photographic sky compositions cause unique neural activations.
Conducted by College of Human Sciences’ researchers Drs. Debajyoti Pati, Michael O’Boyle and Cherif Amor, the study investigated the effects of Sky Factory’s photographic sky compositions on brain activation.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to generate brain maps of neural activation in healthy subjects when exposed to the unique photographic compositions used in Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings™ and compared the brain patterns with those generated by viewing other positive, negative or neutral images.
Initial analysis of the brain maps indicates that the photographic sky compositions shared the characteristic neural activations of positive images, while, additionally, activating other unique brain regions. Of particular interest to the researchers were the activations found in the cerebellum.
“Brain activation of the cerebellum is often associated with aspects of spatial cognition, in particular the experience of extended space, as well as imagined, or real motion through that space,” said neuroscientist Dr. Michael O’Boyle of Texas Tech University. “By way of speculation, it may be that viewing Sky Factory compositions evokes a sense of expansion into or through this extended space.”
With these findings, Bill Witherspoon, founder of the Sky Factory, expects additional research will further link this cognitive experience of the company’s virtual skylights (Luminous SkyCeilings™) to the positive results of biophilic engagement that has been reported by end-users for a decade.
As our understanding of the cognitive processes behind the physiological effects of these illusions of nature™ grows, more and more companies will grasp the economic implications and physiological benefits of these virtual skylights and windows for the workplace.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2011), individuals who are faced with nowhere to relieve stress in the office, are at risk of premature onset of psychiatric, stress, and anxiety induced illnesses. Hence, harnessing the power of biophilic engagement to transform our workplaces is more than healing sight for sore eyes or a positive distraction. Using biophilic design in enclosed office spaces is a smart, sustainable solution to insure daily wellbeing.
WorkNest is a flexible desk system which allows its users to configure and modify the working environment which they inhabit. Although this workspace concept is still only in the conceptual phases, we absolutely love the design and variability of it! According to the designer Wiktoria Lenart, the project was aimed at creating the perfect modular office for creatives; allowing its users to create a workspace that felt designed and modified specifically for the user’s needs.
The set lets you add things like planters, walls on the edges to create more privacy, wheels, and can be combined with other desks to create a large collaborative workspace. Each of the pods and walls included let you organized books, headphones, magazines, and the like.
I am sure we all know by now that sitting at a desk all day is bad for one’s health. It has been mentioned time and time again, in a number of different articles. I am assuming that it MUST be true at this point.
Actually, I am a true advocate for standing while working. I have been using a standing desk for over a year, and I will probably never go back to a conventional sitting desk. Standing while working at a computer makes a huge difference in one’s physical wellbeing. I feel more alert, energized, and I have less tension in my neck and shoulders from mouse and keyboard use. Foot fatigue can be an issue, but using an appropriate floor mat helps alleviate the problem.
The only real issue with a standing desk is getting your hands on one! They are pretty hard to come by, but with a little imagine, innovation, and elbow grease you too can have a standing desk! I did it! I created my own standing desk by sawing the legs off a convention desk and mounting it to my wall with L-brackets.
Here are a few other DIY standing desk ideas I found. Just don’t forget to remember proper standing ergonomics when setting up your standing desk!
Author – Josie from Josie Office Design