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Taking Workplaces beyond the New Age Office Cliché

Posted by
on February 25, 2019 at 01:16 PM

© Courtesy of internet resources

Yes, the new age office has also come to be a cliché in the design world. It boils down to a mere rearrangement of  hackneyed elements like the breakout area with beanbags and foosball table, swings and slides, pop coloured comfy daybeds, quaint shaped privy cabins. These and such others form the coveted list that every corporate worth its salt wishes to present its employees with as a ‘congenial workspace that is conducive to enhanced productivity’! Indeed, the more seriously intentioned corporates have taken the movement further with child and baby care facilities on campus for gender mainstreaming or gender de-stereotyping as the case may be, areas dedicated for the pursuit of hobbies/ art to encourage creativity, etc. Then, of course, there have been offices housed in old castles or fashioned out of defunct theatres and other options that one can imagine. One may wonder if the entire playfield of office design stands covered with all possible innovations having been explored, but there are always the envelope-pushers who break new ground where none was in sight.

The Forest

No, it’s not an office in the forest; it’s a forest in the office. A complete forest on an undulating terrain has leafy canopies casting shadows on the rocky-grassy stream-side. It sounds like a romantic picnic, but it’s the office of King, the makers of Candy Crush and other games, in Stockholm. While most of the offices of King worldwide are known for their exuberant fun and fantasy themed décor, nothing quite compares to this one. Designers Adolfsson & Partners have really explored the frontiers of décor to simulate nature with materials and technology to create a life-like wood in this workspace.

© Courtesy of internet resources

Occupying a huge sky-lit central space of 310 sq m in a total office area of 1880 sq m, the forest terrain emerges from contours made with plywood cut-outs. These are topped and finished with soft cushioning and upholstery that resembles the Swedish countryside of grassy knolls and rocky beds. Artificial tall tree silhouettes are interspersed with natural plants to recreate the flora, while cut-outs of Moose and foxes provide the presence of fauna. The cushioned and upholstered surfaces provide seating, along with some wicker basket swing chairs tucked in to the thicket, where employees can stroll in from the surrounding cabins and cubicles and enjoy working in this natural setting.

© Courtesy of internet resources

The most impressive element is the interactive floor which mimics a stream flowing through this wood. It reacts to the footsteps of people walking over it and is even programmed to change in appearance with changing seasons, all to the tune of coordinated music. Personally, this three-year-old interior décor concept remains yet unsurpassed simply for the well-calibrated manner in which natural and artificial means have been melded into this successful, magical result.   Just imagine nestling on a grassy knoll beside a gentle stream, soaking in the intermittent sun and shade with the wilderness around, trying to lilting music to think up new games for millions of eager gamers – inspiration doesn’t stand a chance of escape! 

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The Lab

Let not the name ‘lab’ lead to visuals of sanitised enclosures and nerdy sanctity – this workplace is closer to a playroom of fun. The Innovation Lab has been set up by the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Madrid to facilitate innovative endeavours in varied fields. This informs an organisational framework of various labs like the City Lab, the Fab Lab, the Extended Reality Lab, the Food Lab and the Media Lab which work on innovations in their fields and create trial prototypes. The 5000 sq mts of space in a Madrid suburb where this lab is housed used to be an industrial and warehousing facility, which has been brilliantly adapted as the Innovation Lab by designer Nacho Martin’s architectural studio.

© Courtesy of TFOD

Remember spending childhood summers building fantastic structures using a toy mechanical set on a sunny balcony/ patio/ verandah of your home, surrounded by potted plants and bicycles? That’s exactly the aura which has been re-created by Nacho Martin in the Innovation Lab, using references to Mecanoo sets or even exposed parts of computer hardware. Red, blue, yellow and white slotted angles, bolted into a framework, are spread around to define the space, while CNC-cut boards with holes of different shapes are fitted in to partition different areas. Colourful sheets of wired mesh also fill in to divide spaces and, when accessorised with bicycles and plants, reverberate with a youthful explorative ambience. Playfully appointed workstations and details like dangling wiry spirals complete the creative ambience.

© Courtesy of internet resources

The Innovation Lab is for teachers and students of the Design Institute along with inspired members of society to explore and create, model and prototype innovations in various fields. Since approaches, methods, tools and materials of different are bound to be crazily mutually varying, the designers have tried to create a space where facing these frictions as well as similarities becomes an unavoidable and inspiring input into the processes of innovation taking place there.

© Courtesy of internet resources

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