“If you’re not happy kicking around ideas with your friends at seven pm, this isn’t the place for you,” is refrain heard often around the offices at ICRAVE, a Manhattan design firm known for its hospitality work. As with most creative firms, the company’s offices emphasize collaboration and cooperation with an open plan to facilitate the free flow of ideas. Recently, Ken Fox, the managing partner of Stripes Group, a private equity firm in New York, asked ICRAVE to bring some of that spirit into their new Manhattan offices.
Entries in office design (7)
Corporate art can have the feel of something found at a painting exhibition at an airport Holiday Inn. It’s bland and so inoffensive. As workplace culture evolves (and not just in creative fields), something is happening. Boring sameness is being replaced—thankfully—in favor of choices that delight and inspire. At the same time, as a trend report ahead of NeoCon points out, health and wellness continue to be priorities when it comes to designing new office spaces, extending beyond circadian lighting and standing desks to biophilic design elements such as live walls and other touches that bring the outside in.
A green roof can be a game-changer these days. That’s the takeaway when it comes to 899 West Evelyn, a new office building in Mountain View, California, designed by Rob Zirkle, the founder and principal of Brick, a Berkeley-based architecture firm. The project took shape right before the recession, and its green roof was a part of the design from the beginning. Once the economy picked up, and the building was back on track, the green roof became a major selling point for tenants. “It leveraged the sustainability agenda because of the storm water treatment element,” explains Zirkle. The quality-of-life piece also proved to be catnip to potential tenants: “It provides a unique experience with the outdoors not found in other office buildings.”
Workplace design is changing. It’s a given. We see it most of all in creative office environments. Places where a premium is placed on collaboration and connection. But what about office space form more traditional fields, say finance?
Alan Vartabedian, a principal at Huntsman Architectural Group, offers one take, in the design for Lek Securities’ Manhattan office. “It adheres to tradition in the sense that the expected formalities are there,” Vartabedian explains. A reception area, conference rooms—the usual suspects appear. The departure comes in the inspiration. Vartabedian looked to the worlds of residential and hospitality design to create inviting spaces that tempered the intensity of the business at hand with a more relaxed vibe.
We talk a lot about the new look of offices—open-plan, flooded with natural light, multi-use spaces. Often, though, designers and architects don’t take that idea to the next level, instead creating spaces that still very much retain the old aesthetic that leans toward the institutional and bland. For a recent project by Studio O+A, a San Francisco–based interior design studio, the team pushed the envelope, creating offices for the online firm Zazzle in Redwood City, California, that are lively and inviting.