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UnipolSai’s HQ in Milan: a sustainable building for a sustainable city (Progetto CMR).

Technical and engineering innovation are the concepts that lead  Progetto CMR to turn the building in Via De Castilia in Milan into a vivid example of green architecture: innovative materials were used like the titanium dioxide capable to “melt” the polluting agents in the air, creating, with the green areas of the project, a healthier city spot. The future operative HQ of the Italian insurance group UnipolSai was presented at the Italian Pavilion at Mipim in Cannes.

“A sustainable approach is essential for the future of our cities” . With this words  Massimo Roj, Architect and CEO of Progetto CMR, presented the requalification of the two buildings, 53m and 15m high, placed to form a 45°angle, of the new UnipolSai’s HQ in Milan.
The aim of the Milan integrated design firm was not only to change completely the appearance of the building, but also and foremost to improve its functionality, its energy performance and overall management efficiency. 

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An idea clearly visible from the outside where dynamic façade, created by the interplay between the “void” spaces of the glass and the “solid” vertical connections, combines both aesthetical and functional aspects: while giving a new architectural identity to the complex, the new façade contributes to energy production, thanks to an innovative high-performance silicon film placed on the top glass layer. On the south façade a sequence of rhombus made of tempered glass panels, each with different inclination, and framed by extra light aluminum elements, reflects sunlight in a constantly different way during the day.

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While the advanced building plant uses renewable energy resources as sun, air, wind and water, reducing the environmental impact of the complex and improving the livability of the context, the most interesting feature is the titanium dioxide that covers the the external surfaces of the building, a material capable, through a photocatalytic process,of melting the polluting agents in the air.According to a research by the University of Milan,  together with the green areas in the project, this will contribute to halve local pollution.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

The sound of Smart Working.

Acoustics, technology and design: after the opening of their italian headquarters, in the offices in Hoofddorp (Netherlands) Plantronics experiments the efficacy of their own product in creating a smart working environment.  An opportunity for the company  “to bring to life our vision for the modern workplace”, as the president Joe Burton says.

Situated in the innovative Park 20|20 in Hoofddorp, the architecture firms William McDonough + Partners, N30 and Gensler, conceived the Dutch offices of Plantronics as an acoustic showcase that accommodates various employee work styles, in a symphony of sound layers that make possible for diverse activities to take place simultaneously with minimal disruption, including hallway meetings, pop-up brainstorms, quiet concentration, video conferences, even product testing.

Hoofddorp, 21th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

The noise management is based on the copany’s technology and research, from active acoustic management to headsets that help employees easily and comfortably work anywhere, and on the natural sound of the water:  three waterfalls act as a complementary visual aid to the audio overlay of a babbling brook that can be heard from the speakers. This allow to reduce the intelligibility of background noise, following a biophilic way of designing.


The building, as the entire park 20|20, is build following a “Cradle-to Cradle” design approach that allow to easily disassemble the building in case of need, and it is made entirely with recyclable materials. The attention to the environmental and energetical sustainability worth the  BREEAM certificate at Excellent level: from solar panels, designed to harvest at least a quarter of the building’s required energy, water systems that include greywater harvesting, filtration, cleansing, and reuse, and also carpets fabricated from recycled fishing nets.

Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen
Gensler has also created an exhibition space where the company’s innovation can be tested and shown in action with an interactive sound table that shows the impact sound has on people’s daily lives, and a sound chamber where visitors can learn how Plantronics analyzes the impact of sound levels to help create its headsets.
“In designing the Expo space, our aim was to integrate the Plantronics story with their technology innovations, to create a narrative and provide an informative journey through the space,” said Milena Jovovic, design director at Gensler. “A holistic and immersive experience, consistent with the overall design of the building.”
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Mats van Soolingen.

Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

The role of light in IoT era.

The idea of flexibility and of a human-centered environment, with the IoT interaction, have become the trend also in the lighting design. “Lamps” are not made just for giving light, but are the core of technological infrastructures, data collectors and creators of atmospheres and environments. Some of the Artemide‘s new projects, presented at Euroluce 2017, can give us a hint about the future role of light in the IoT era.

Despite a general revival atmosphere recalling the 50s and 60s design, Euroluce 2017 has shown some example of the potentiality of light for the future office design.
The key concepts are almost the same than in the other design field: human-centred, flexibility and a two-way interaction that allow every object to collect data and to be controlled by a system.

A lighting spot can be used as a data transfer device or an internet connection point. This is the idea behind Light as Quanta, the Li-Fi project by Artemide. The system is based on an “optical wireless” connection that works through lighting impulses, instead of radio waves, only in the light cone of the lamp, giving better performances and safety.

In the years Artemide has also developed a project called “The Human Light”, designing products capable of creating real-time various and complex light scenarios through communication technology as Target Point, Artemide App and LOT Software. The concept behind the Human light is to create an environment that fits perfectly with the needs of whom are living in it, regulating the presence and the role of the light in the space. Emissions, movements, speed, colors are controlled via app by smartphone, using an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, enabling all kind of users of personalizing their experience.
Text by Gabriele Masi

1, Yang IoT, Carlotta de Bevilacqua, Artemide, 2017. A two-way communication system that allow to separately control the three lamps, using the LED technology to enable the user to choose the right scenario for different situations and needs.
2, A24, Carlotta de Bevilacqua, Artemide, 2017. A24 is a unique 24 mm thick that can be installed everywhere,  in the recessed, ceiling or suspension mode to continuously follow the angles on a flat or three-dimensional surface. A flexible framework for different Artemide’s products, diffused light, sharp optical units with three beam angles, or a smart magnetic track.
3-4, LoT-LoT software, Tapio Rosenius, Artemide 2016-2017. LoT is the first Artemide’s software based on the concept of interaction design. A serie of lighting tools that allows design professionals to reimagine, reveal, reinterpret and to modulate space through light.

Building automation and ergonomics.

Automation, flexibility and an interconnected space: the Campus Perrone’s Pavillion C of the UPO’s University shows how probably the future learning spaces will be. The key role of the ICT is enhanced by the comfort and ergonomics of the Ares Line’s seats Evolution and by the MosaicoGroup’s audio-video and lighting system, following the concept of a Technology Enabled Learning space.

How is gonna be the future learning space? Studio CM has tried to give us a hint with their project of the Campus Perrone of the University of the Eastern Piemonte in Novara, showing how the interior design trends of the office and of the learning environments are following the same paths: energy saving, building automation, and the research of a constant link between the inside and the outside of the building.

The project has been realized in collaboration with two companies of the Contract Design Network: MosaicoGroup has designed the audiovideo and lighting system, enhancing the role of the ICT, providing the building with a low latency and easy to control streaming framework that allows to broadcast and receive the audio-video signal throughout the Campus and the entire university. Ares Line has supplied about 1000 seats for the different environments and in particular Evolution, an improvement of the best seller product Omnia, and has designed the teacher’s desk in order to fit perfectly the different multimedia applications provided by MosaicoGroup.
The whole building appears as a functional and colored environment, easy to control through personalized devices that allow to manage the different rooms, the volume of the microphones, of the streaming and of the lights.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Can the office make us happy?

Happiness has become a big issue in nowadays working environments. From the new ways of working to the design of the spaces and the furniture, physical and mental wellbeing, creativity, interaction, stress reduction, corporate identity are some of the features creating a happier office and therefore a more productive one. A multidisciplinary approach has been used to combine different disciplines as neuroscience, botany, IoT, ergonomics and energy engineering. Is it that enough for a space to create happiness?

Defining happiness can be a tricky task and a lot of definitions have been given so far. Concerning the working environment, as Alexander Kjerulf said, happiness can be determined by two parameters: feeling the best in what we are doing and building a good relationship in a team. On the other hand, someone else considers it a summon of intense and brief positive emotions that we experiment during the day. Both these definitions feat perfectly with the trends that are transforming the office, changing it from a stressing environment to a space that wants to take care of its workers.

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There are several factors that push this changing: the working environment models from the new technology and e-companies, the different needs of the new generations, the new scientific and technological findings that keep on changing the all society and also the need to create a more appealing environment, capable to face the challenge of different workplaces where everyone can actually do his job, outside the office, such as coworking spaces or home.
As long as the office, also our life has changed and, along with it, our time has become more fluid, mixing working time and spare time, creating a new need to better define boundaries: smartworking has brought office in our home, but it has also brought the concept of home-feeling in the office: couches, table football, good restaurant, medical examinations, relaxing methods, playgrounds, and has also brought in all the world in general, opening the building to the city, capturing different instance from science, art, and different cultures. And also the concept of co-working seems now old now: we are, maybe, moving towards co-living.
Since we are talking about a working environment, these features have the goal to increase productivity and creativity: the new paradigm happiness = productivity has focused all the attention on the wellbeing of the human resource, considering design the key to this new happy productivity. Seats, desks, plants, flexible and dynamic furniture, a well-lighted, healthy environment, with informal spaces that always allow to meet someone and feel comfortable. It is a new kind of design, though. It is a hybrid design that has to give a shape to the scientifically and technological always new instance, creating a responsive and interactive space though the IoT.

people-meeting-plantronics-wow-webmagazineSo is it that enough to consider the wellbeing we are creating in the office a way to our happiness?
I think, even though it is undeniable that nowadays office is far better than the gray and has ones someone may remember, there is a risk that I want to point out.
Focusing too much on the physical and mental wellbeing of the individual, we might forget that happiness is a social deal, it is socially defined by every culture and every society has its own way to pursue it. So there are not standard or fixed solutions we can uncritically apply to every working situation.
The office space (allow me this, even if it sounds exaggerate) might become a beautiful golden cage where we get used to having everything we need, so attractive with all his feature that give us continuously rushes of dopamine: can we end up totally absorbed by the office?
Happiness is a matter of work-life balance and linking happiness to work it’s a risky business.
Although the innovations that will be present at the Salone Ufficio 2017, where the happiness topic will be present in the installation Work 3.0 – A Joyful Sense at Work, are a real breakthrough in the office design, a question is now aroused: an human-centre office will cause an office center kind of human?
Editorial by Gabriele Masi, anthropologist and journalist.

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Reset: adapting the space to your stress level (Scape and UNstudio at Workplace 3.0).

Reducing the stress level in the office adapting constantly space to whom is living in it. At the Salone Ufficio 2017’s installation A Joyful Sense at Work, UNStudio and Scape will present Reset, a living laboratory where the ambient intelligence will demonstrate which stress reduction methods work best for different individuals, through the experience of the visitors.

Investigating how technology can be used in order to reduce effectively the stress level in the office, focusing on individual needs, is the main goal of the Responsive Emotional Transformation pod (RESET), a fully immersive, modular structure that features scientifically proven stress reduction methods in an interactive way.
The project has been developed thanks to a multidisciplinary teamwork consisting of UNStudio, SCAPE, the neuroscientist Teresa de Sanctis, Jurjen Söhne and Diederik Veelo, specialized in interaction design and ambient intelligence.
“The uniqueness of the RESET pods is that space actively responds to you”, Jeff Povlo, Founder of Scape says. “The wearable technology enables personalized experiences based on the input of your stress levels.

The concept of ambient intelligence refers to responsive and sensitive environments that use electronic systems and devices to adapt to the presence of the people.
Reset, one of the four environments of the A Joyful Sense at Work installation is based on biosensors that will provide information on how visitors will respond to stress reduction experiences with a factual and immediate feedback.
Using design to benefit human health on multiple levels is one of the most important things that architecture can contribute”, Ben van Berkel by UnSpace concludes. “Stress is one of the essential issues we need to tackle in today’s workplace.”
Reset set a new concept: it is not the man adapting to space, but it the other way round.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Starpool at Workplace 3.0: neuroscience and wellbeing in the office.

Creating wellness in the working environment through new technologies and neuroscience is gonna be one of the main topics at the Salone Ufficio 2017. Starpool will so present his project “Zero-gravity mindfulness”, focusing on two products that create a new way of the office space to take care of the people working in: the dry floating experience of Zerobody and the meditation tracks of Nu Relax.

As it is shown by their claim Wellness Concept @Work, Starpool has always been a company focused on designing services and environment to support the wellbeing in the office. Lately, neuroscience’s findings have changed the way of approaching to this goal. “Mindfulness and inner balance are more and more required at work”, Riccardo Turri, Ceo Starpool. “Zerobody and Nu Relax are conceived like a bridge between the office environment and the scientific research. Knowing how our brain actually works is going to be important to improve our lifestyle in the next future”.
The project “Zero-gravity Mindfulness” (Mindfulness a gravità zero) at Salone del Mobile 2017 aims to create a connection between the new technologies and the last findings of neuroempowerment.

The table Zerobody, designed by Cristiano Mino and realized in collaboration with Neocogita, brings in the office the dry floating experience, a stress relief method, based on the sensation of feeling light like “being on a cloud”. Enveloping softly the body, the water heated mattress of Zerobody creates an ideal physical condition to concentrate and to improve the mental performances.
“Brain is flexible, it gets better or worst depending on how much and how we use it”, says Nicola de Pisapia, Neocogita’s founder. “The dry floating experience takes the person to a meditative condition that activates and thickens important cerebral areas”.
The Nu Relax’s six audio-guided meditation tracks, instead, are all based on scientific protocols and traditional practices like yoga. Nu Relax has being developed to help to face the different challenges and situations we have to deal with during a normal working day: relax, balance, creativity, calm, clarity of mind and brilliance.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The recipe of quality in the office: Cameo’s Campus.

“Quality is the best recipe”:  Cameo’s Campus, by Ackermann+Raff , is inspired by company’s payoff. The project is based on energetic sustainability (LEED certification) and a people-centered organization of the space, focused on the wellbeing and on a continuous interaction.

The working environment of Cameo’s Campus in Desenzano del Garda (Brescia, Italy) reflects the company’s view and products throughout all the space. The 200 fixed workstations, 30 team working environments, the project areas and the 10 phone boots, are organized over three floors inspired by the most famous products of the company: the “Pizza walls” at first floor contains the business, marketing and management’s offices; the second floor, with sales services and logistics points, recalls Cameo’s cake; while the third floor – Dessert – hosts the HR service and the general management.

The core of the project is represented by the ground floor, open to visitors, where all the common areas are placed, with the restaurant, cafeteria, auditorium, and three meeting rooms also dedicated to three other main products of the company.
The sustainable and people-centered campus is designed with the “essential features to ensure our future growth” as Alberto de Stasio and Peter Irle, Cameo’s general managers, say.
The sustainable architecture, based on photovoltaic and geothermal energy and an efficient lighting and air-conditioning system controlled by a Building Management System, was rewarded with the LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

The people-centered concept is based on the green areas, such as the garden at the first floor, the informal social hubs, the meeting point to relax, as well as the wellness balls used as comfortable seats in order to improve the posture during the working hours.
The replacement of landlines with Voice Over IP, an internal integrated communication system, and a free WiFi all over the campus also contribute to an overall mobility and interaction.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Biophilia and industrial archeology: Mutti’s Offices.

Connecting tradition and sustainability through the light: the Mutti’s offices by the architect Paolo Bedogni renovate and expand an 18th century industrial building, unifying the 1.000 sqm. of the old and the new environments with a long solar promenade and branding chromatic choices.

Light is fundamental for agricolture, and it so also for productivity and wellness in the office. That’s the idea that links the Mutti’s offices in Montechiarugolo (Parma, Italy) and the company’s activity based on tomatoes.

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Though all the environment, connecting the renovated edifice and the new spaces, a solar promenade links the offices over the two floors: an indoor street, with trees, enlighten with skylights, as the work environments, exposed to south to maximize the natural light.

Every workstation has also a lighting system based on a dimmable LED system, regulated by sensors. Workers can adjust the lighting through the smartphone or the computer.
Lights is also the key of the energy efficiency of the building, with a 18kW photovoltaic and a solar thermal system, and the air recycle that uses the solar irradiation.

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A second feature of the project is the “tomatoes inspiration”: the hall at the entrance recalls the shape of the vegetable with a circular and regular shape, while the color over the space is based on red, that along with the gold, recalls all over the Mutti’s brand.

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The flexible working environment, that includes also two meeting rooms at the first floor, is characterized by the ergonomic seats by Bross and the technical channels designed on the grès floor that allow to easily reconfigure the partition and the organization of the space.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The Microsoft House in Milan: opening the innovation towards the city.

The Microsoft House in Milan represent a new model of a headquarter based on the idea of being an open innovation centre for the city and professionals, schools and clients. 200 thousands visitors are expected to enter this year the three open floors of the first italian building by Herzog & De Meuron.

Designed by DEGW to be an innovation laboratory, the Microsoft House in Viale Pasubio in Milan, with 832 windows coving six floors, reflects on the city the ways of working and a new conception of a company’s opened headquarter.

Three entire floors are designed for visitors, with different environments as the Showroom, the Digital Class, the Microsoft Technology Center and the Loft.
The idea behind these environments is to give the opportunity to experiment new technologies and solutions for students, teachers, business or just for playing.
The Showroom is equipped with an interactive Modern PC Windows e Intel space and 13 game stations, as well as free wi-fi, and it will the set of numerous workshops. Instead the Digital Class is specifically designed to offer to schools the opportunity to come and try and experiment new solutions for the 3.0 classes and the edutainment.
The first floor, divided in for different environments, is open to professionals, businesses and startups: the Interactive Center, with workstations where it is possible to try experimental management software, the technological space of the Immersion Suite, the Briefing Suite, where focused consultation can be run, and the 80 seats multifunctional auditorium Envisioning Center.
At the last floor the Loft is a refined environment, with a Made in Italy furniture and design, thought to host special events.

The 7.500 sqm central floors are dedicated to the working area, based on the smart working ideas of a dynamic and fluid workspace. The open space based environment, with a strong attention to the acoustic design, includes the Ateliers, transparent workstations for short-term individual works, a Creative Garden in wooden frameworks with plants and colored element to promote team working, and Social Platforms for private gatherings.
A peculiar solution is the Garden Tables at the fifth floor, a system of reconfigurable desks that, through a creative system, uses plants in the centre of the table as partitions.
“Our Microsoft House in the heart of Milan, in a dynamic and connected area, wants to set the new direction for the innovation in Italy”, Carlo Purassanta, Microsoft Italia’s managing director says. “From big companies to startups, from students to the NGO’s world, this is a place to innovate, collaborate, to find ideas and create an ecosystem. Only together we can make great thing to let Italy grow”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Project Team:
Space planning, interior design, modifica impianti, change management FUD Brand Making Factory: Communication Design & Physical Branding di DEGW (Client Leader: Alessandro Adamo, Senior Architect: Cristiana Boienti).
Among the suppliers:
Arper, Artemide, Caimi Brevetti, Knoll, Kvadrat, Interface, La Palma, Omnitex, Pedrali, Tecno, Viabizzuno, Zanotta and HW-Style, supplier of the indoor green.

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The Vodafone headquarters in Padova (Dante Benini&Partners).

After the Smart Vodafone Village in Milan, Dante O. Benini & Partners Architects designed the Vodafone’s offices in Padova: multifunctional, eco-friendly, open space workplace where materials, colors and lighting create a dynamic and harmonious rhythm, reflecting the ways of working of the company.

The Vodafone’s offices in Padova are a polyphonic environment designed to support the wellbeing of the workers, through the interaction between cutting-edge technologies where different kind of environments and furniture by several companies, such as Sedus, Caimi Brevetti, Arper and Segis. The whole creates a peculiar rhythm throughout the space, dividing, but at the same time unifying, formal and informal, privacy and meeting workspaces.

The project follows the features of the Vodafone Village in Milan, also designed by the same firm Dante O. Benini & Partners Architects: a fully connected, multifunctional and shared open space, with a particular attention to energetic sustainability which candidates the Cittadella to the LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
The key of the project is to enhance through the space the smart, flexible and dynamic ways of working of the company, using visible and tangible elements as materials, colors, acoustic elements, and lighting. While the different colors reflect the switch between two different environments, the lighting system and the space are expanded by the using of honeycomb aluminium papers on the surfaces and on the custom furniture.

The interior design plays with its own elements: the working islands defined by free-standing and self illuminated workstation in a big letter shape are a perfect example as well as the relax area where rocking chairs and furniture are inspired by organic and embracing shapes.
The graphic project by Gr Interior, the repetition throughout the space of models, materials and geometrical elements creates connected environments which differ in purpose and configuration, in a single harmonious and at the same time flexible working setting.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Beppe Raso.

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No happy workplaces? Objection overruled.

Creating an happy workplace is one of the main focuses of the companies nowadays, even though there are still some objections against it. Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Wohoo Inc., and Happiness expert, has published in his LinkedIn profile an interesting video, collecting the 20 most common ones he usually deals with in his job. 

Talking about happiness at work the first objection is about his definition: what is happiness at work? Being danish, as Alexander Kjerulf, in the case, might help. The Scandinavian languages have a word for it, and it is Arbejdsglæde, and Kjerulf has made all his job about it. He is firmly convinced that happiness is just about doing something you are good at, that makes a positive difference in the world, together with great coworkers and teams. Or in other words, quoting a definition by Sonja Lyubomirsky, it is “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being at work, combined with a sense that one’s work life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile”.
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Talking about happiness someone may say that you can’t objectively measure it or that it is impossible to make everyone happy, also because most of the time people don’t know what makes them happy as well. However a lot of research have been made and a productive dialogue with workers can be a good solution. Also it is the goal of a leadership to educate team members in understanding what could really make them happy at work. And if the answer are different, it is useful to remember that “the only way to treat everybody the same is to that everybody differently”.
Moreover happiness can’t be considered a private matter: a lot of people wants to have the right to feel sad at work, considering the all parties, fun and games in the office trivial, frivolous, stupid or ridiculous. The true is that a negative or sad attitudine can affect all the team and the productivity of a company as different studies show.

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Happiness won’t make you selfish, complacent and lazy, but gives you the energy to be a good corporate citizen, to create a great team and to give a better customer service. It must be underlined as well that make people happy at work it is not just about fun, but also about showing them that they are doing a good job, showing that they work is meaningful, and giving them competences, training, skills to do a good job.It is also nonsense to try to keep the emotions out of the office. Emotions belong to the workplace as to the other spheres of an human life since they are the core of human beings and of the process of decision making.

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That is why being happy at work it is not impossible. Even though someone affirms that if you expect to be happy at work, you will be disappointed, the opposite it is actually true: if you expect to be happy, you will do something about it in your office and you’ll try to create or to find a workplace where you are happy.
As Kjerulf concludes: “Make your happiness your n°1 carrier goal or, if you are a leader, make happiness the number 1 goal of your leadership”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The office way to wellbeing: PwC Switzerland by Evolution Design.

The PwC Switzerland offices in Basel by Evolution Design offer a new horizon for the working environment design, taking the concept of work-life balance further: can a workplace teach how to stay healthy through the space?Working healthy is about far more then ergonomics” explains Stefan Camenzind, executive director. Creating health and energy is about keeping yourself active without forgetting rest and relaxation, building a positive attitude and eating healthy.

Concentrating on the connection between wellbeing and productivity is on of the most interesting trends of the working environment design. The PwC offices in Basel follows the Evolution Design’s recipe, a subtle blend of creativity, planning and humanity, providing variety and choice of workspaces, with a particular attention to the role of informal environments and networks, focusing on individual needs such as relaxation, nutrition and empowerment.

“Since they already offer pilates and yoga classes, we focused on how the workplace design can support more movement. Keeping active is crucial for energy and health”, Camenzind says. The project has three main kinds of environment: a desk area where everyone can work on his own projects, feeling still part of a team environment,  called “The Focus Space”; a “Quiet Zone”, with private spaces where it’s possible to concentrate without interruption or noise; and a “Team Space” with large shared desks, whiteboards and walls on which it’s possible to pin project work, ideal for group projects and tasks. The different furniture of each spaces, from sofas to cafe tables and stools allows everyone to find his own favorite setting. All the workers are also free to choose and use the room they need and like, following the feelings and mood.

But energy it is not just about movement, sometimes it requires rest. A peculiar feature of the PwC offices is the “Relaxation Room”, with natural motifs, with low-level lighting and music, massage chairs and the MetroNap Energy Pod, especially designed for taking power naps.  “I know it sounds strange to take a nap at work, but in the future people who don’t take time out to relax will be seen as irresponsible”, Stefan Camenzind comments.
Another peculiarity is the attention given to the food as a symbol of a correct lifestyle: a series of graphics are drawn throughout the office space to remind and motivate people to eat well, while healthy snacks, fruit and water are also on offer.

An healthy lunch is also served at the 7th floor rooftop restaurant, while different coffee areas and social hub are spread throughout the space, encouraging informal meetings where ideas can be shared and improve the creativity.
The Evolution Desing’s creative director Tanya Ruegg concludes: “Empowering people. The design here is all about making it easy and enjoyable for workers, in oder to do a task in the best way possible. It’s functional, but also emotional.”
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Peter Wurmli.

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COAF Smart Center by Paul Kaloustian.

The COAF Smart Center in Armenia is “more than a building”. As its designer Paul Kaloustian says, the project was based on a new approach regarding the relationship between architecture and nature, a ribbon shape walkway that, embracing the landscape, makes it the heart of the construction. The space becomes the image of its function: a school where experiences and competences made inside can be positively transferred outside, in the local contest.

The Smart Center in Lori, north of Armenia, is an example of how some projects are designed to be more than a building. The building is thought to support and represented the work of COAF in the area, delivering superior and regionally-relevant educational, sustaining community programs and encouraging progressive ideology, in respect with the rural society and environment in which it operates.
This idea led Paul Kaloustian to create a walkway that, as a sinuous ribbon, envelop a portion of the landscape, creating a fertile 7.000 sqm courtyard. The one-level walkway will host interconnected virtual classrooms, computer labs, youth clubs and meeting areas, a library, a restaurant, and studios for languages, arts and music, all made with ecofriendly materials and supported with green and sustainable energy.

The Smart center will have also guest quarters where visiting collaborators and program participants can be accommodated and space for feature outdoor activities, indoor workshops and greenhouses where children and adult will learn relevant skills for the region’s development.
After the Moukbel Award and the Order of Architects Award, Kaloustian was at the 13th Venice Biennale with his “House in a Forest” and at the exposition “Atlas of the Unbuilt World” at the Monde Arabe in Paris. The COAF Smart center represents Kaloustian’s first major project.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
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The Copernico’s hub in Turin: a fertile ecosystem.

The historical L’Oreal headquarter in Turin is being turning into a new efficient coworking space designed as a fertile ecosystem, a dynamic system where sharing spaces and resources means shearing also experiences and ideas. The 12.000 sqm Copernico’s hub will be inaugurated this spring 2017, following the success of the Copernico Milano Centale project.

“We want to build an environment that creates the need of sharing experiences through a dynamic system, where ideas can be concretely realized”.
Pietro Martani, managing director of Copernico, introduces with these words the project of the last company’s coworking environment. Turin, best city in Europe for innovation, after Amsterdam, will host the ninth Copernico’s hub, a wide environment capable of satisfying all the need of the new ways of working with private and sharing working stations. A space to encouraging productivity, a good life-work balance, mobility and flexibility. A “fertile ecosystem” designed with a clear idea: a space, multifunctional and flexible, with a strong connection with city, that aim to be a model for a cultural transformation. This idea is gonna be represented on the ground floor from a café, designed to be a centre of connection, “a social floor” to encourage networking and the informal sharing of ideas.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Gabriele Zanon.

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Ways of Designing and new simplicity: Alain Gilles

Although he studied political science and marketing, design was always something special for Alain Gilles. That’s why in 2007, he decided to quit his job in financing, change his life and open a design studio in Brussels. Since then he has been working for important companies and has received important international awards. We have met him at the BuzziSpace stand, at Orgatec 2016, where we have drink with him to BuzziFloat, his first project of a chair.

Is your design approach the same everywhere and with all kinds of companies or does the approach change to the different situations?
No, of course the approached will depend on the type of project and company it designed for. Then again, there are always common traits to what we do and how we approach a project: logics, visions, materials combinations, general shapes, etc… which only makes sense it is coming out of the same mind and Studio.
The biggest difference probably lies in the fact that a project is self-initiated and not designed at first for a specific company/editor but rather proposed to a company; or if it is done for a specific company and answers some of their general requests.

You operates on quite different markets and fields. Do your analyses show new users life styles and requirements?
Yes, indeed, we do design for some very different markets but always in the mid to high level part of the market since I am only interested in qualitative products. Having studied Political sciences and Marketing Management before industrial design I generally have a pretty good feel for the changes our societies are going through and general evolution in lifestyles.  Having lived “different” lives also helps.
Of course before starting a project we always check quickly what is already existing in order to make sure we don’t repeat what has been done, and to get a feel of where what we will be designing will be positioned in the market.
For some projects like the solar lamp design we had to a careful and long study of how people live in off-the grid countries is it is more remote to my daily life.  It was the same when we designed the first collection of a new French kitchen tools brand since we generally didn’t know much about that large and crowded marked and need to understand what was technically possible in order to define a DNA for the new brand.

Are there any conceptual “contaminations” and common elements among the many design areas you deals with?
Without repeating ourselves from one project we always try to make sure that there is a red thread between the different design that we do even if the sectors are different one from the other. In general, I work on what I have come to call “Simplexity” with projects that may appear simple at first hand but that generally have different levels of understanding, and also what I call “New simplicity” for projects that are clearly readable and use a minimum amount of material and transformation processes in their production.  We will generally work on the architecture of the product and/or on the graphic aspect and material combinations of the product.
So, yes indeed, there are definitely some “contaminations” between our different projects. The fact that we design for different fields also generates this cross-pollination effect between projects.

How has the workspace vision changed in the past few years and have these changes an impact on the new interior design and furniture products?
Before studying industrial design I work for five years in a large American company active in international finances.  As far as people management and organization they were definitely ahead of their times. During those fives year I had the chance to live firsthand the transformation of the company to a paperless company.  They also re-did all their interiors in their 15 story-building and 1.500 strong staff and went for a hot-desking policy with fully opened space.  As a future-designer those experience were very enlightening to me since I experience them first hand and felt what other were feeling.
In the last few years the workspace has become a lot more homey and a lot more human and I believe that through our collaboration with Buzzi Space we had the chance to have an influence on the evolving visions of the work environment and the increased attention to the wellbeing of the people. The office where we spend most of our days has become more and more a “full experience” place  ( not to say a place of full of experience ) where people increasingly interact and share with other.  In most cases the experience in the office is far richer and more modern than what most people live at home. One could almost say that some offices are a bit conceived like “boutique hotels” where one goes for a few days in order to live an experience different from their daily routines. People and the interaction between people have now become the fuel that drives successful companies and their interior design just tend to reflect that importance and the fact that people matter.

What scenarios and evolutions do you expect for the office and the ways of working in the near future?
I believe that we will work less and less in the office and only come a few times or a few days during the week to re-connect with colleagues to share information and enjoy the social sides of work.  People will be working partly from home, or co-working spaces at walking distances from their homes. They will thus spend less time commuting and when they will be commuting they will be try to escape the rush hours.
When in the office, people will have the possibility to work from different types of spaces that best suits their need for concentration or collaboration. To work lying on a couch, sitting or stand behind a desk, or working in collaborations with other in informal spaces with enough sound proofing elements to respect the intimacy and concentration of other.
Green spaces and terrace-like spaces will become the norm to escape the dull grey routine of what used to be called the work day, but which is above all the most important time in the life of people.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Captions
Didascalie:
In evidence, A portrait of Alain Gilles, copywrite Thomas De Boever.
2. New Perspective Mirror, Bonaldo, Alain Gilles.
3, 4. Big Table, Bonaldo, Alain Gilles.
5. Wicked Armchair & Basket Table, Vincent Sheppard, Alain Gilles, copywrite STOR.
6. BuzziPicnic table, versione split level, BuzziSpace, Alain Gilles.
7. BuzziPicnic Workbench, BuzziSpace, Alain Gilles.
8, 9. BuzziFLoat chair, BuzziSpace, Alain Gilles.

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AzkoNobel’s ColourFutures 2017.

“A palette that tells the story of our life in a new light trend, with darker and lighter hues that change the mood of a room”. Heleen Van Gent, Head of AkzoNobel’s Global Aesthetics Center, has presented with these words the Color of the Year 2017: Denim Drift. A color that express the value of versatility and the return to a sense of “normality”.

After the orange copper 2015 and the gold of 2016, for 2017 AzkoNobel has chosen a shade of blue. A color inspired by the famous trousers, symbol of the versatility and the informality, trends of contemporary design: born as working trousers, jeans are nowadays a suitable for every occasion, casual and elegant, depending on what it is combined with.
“We understand how essential color is to everyday life” Van Gent has commented. “As well as being practical, paint and color can have such a transforming and uplifting effect on people and the places they spend their time, whether at home, work or leisure.”
As every year, ColourFutures is a moment to think about the role of design in the contemporary society and its ability of capturing the main trends and tendencies, through color. Denim Drift is a complete switch from the last year’s gold, from preciousness to normality, a deep, relaxing breath in the chaotic and anxious time we live in. It is a tribute to hard work and to the ability of rethinking yourself in different situations, a palette that combines the airy feel of the lighter shade with the more dramatic and moody darker ones, avoiding the extremes, always giving a sense of normality.

“Research has shown that consumers lack confidence when it comes to decorating, with 40% actively searching for inspiration”, David Menko, Marketing Director of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints commented. “That’s why we’re focused on driving innovations that improve people’s everyday lives by transforming their living spaces and helping them to choose the right colors and products”.
Denim Drift is not only a palette that tells the time we live in, but also an inspiration on how we can live in it.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Ways of Designing & cross-disciplinarity: Atelier Oï.

It is not easy to precisely define the Swiss group founded by Aurel Aebi, Armand Louis and Patrick Reymond in 1991. Architects, designers, artist, scenographers, Atelier Oï has developed a cross-disciplinary way of designing, breaking down the barriers among different knowledges.

Dancing in the air, whirling round and round, the lamps Le Danseuses designed by Atelier Oï for Artemide have been included by ADI Index in the selection for the next Compasso d’Oro Awards.
The poetic Atelier Oï’s design makes every project identifiable, from the precision of the industrial design to the handcrafted manufacturing of the materials: paper (lamp Fusion designed in collaboration with Ozeki & Co. for Danese), felt (modular containers for USM), fabrics (separator Sinua for Danese) or mainly wood (as in the Allumettes collection for Röthlisberger).

How important is the material in your products?
All our designs are based on how the materials express themselves, how they can be transformed, what are their limits, how you can push it forward and what you can actually make out of them.
Which approach do you need towards the material?
We are convinced that not only handcraft by every know-how is very important. This was also the main topic we had this year in Milan, Casa Gifu, a collaboration between Atelier Oï and the Japanese prefecture Gifu. And all was base on the knowledge and the know-how they have around wood, paper and other materials and the new technologies and ways of transforming materials.

Do we need more connection between manufacture and design?
With the Hida Sangyo’s japanese company we have developed some wooden furniture, tables and chairs and all of them are made by compressed wood they have in Japan, that can’t be used otherwise. So it is all about the know-how they have in wood making, compressing the wood to make it stable enough to be able to make anything out of it.  So this a nice aspect of the link among design, handcraft, the knowledge and the know-how that we put together in the end in the product.
An hybrid approach that requires also different figures…
In general a lot of things we can see in our projects comes from other projects. In Atelier
Oï we include architects, interior designers, graphic designers, so we have different points of views and different scales of work. And this has a lot of impact on the actual final product because something we see in architecture we transpose to furniture or to a product or the other way round. And it is this that gives the certain spirit we have in the way we transform materials.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Captions:
1. Le Danseuses, AtelierOï, Artemide.
2. Hive, Atelier Oï, B&B Italia.
3. Sinua, Atelier Oï, Danese.
4. Stairs, Atelier Oï, Lasvit
5. Allumette, Atelier Oï, Röthlisberger Kollektion
6. Decomposé, Atelier Oï, Artemide.
7. Inos Box, Atelier Oï, USM
8. Casa Gifu, Atelier Oï.

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The nanostructured alluminium by e-wenco: E-llum.

High efficiency with a low energy consumption: E-llum by e-wenco is a versatile film based on a “hackered” aluminium, with a low environmental impact. NoteCook, the “nomad” barbecue with a laptop shape, designed by Zamir Hashorva, is the first product that shows the potential of this new material, a symbol of the hybrid design.

A new material and a new way of managing heating: the nanostructured aluminium by the italian start-up e-wenco combines two of the major trends of contemporary design: green and hybrid.

E-llum is a film based on a modified aluminium that allows to create a very efficient heating system, as it is shown by NoteCook, the handy barbecue presented at the WOW! round table Office Design Ibrido.
NoteCook is an efficient cooking system capable of converting up to 92% of the power into heating in a very short time, reducing the environmental impact. Having a size of a normal laptop and weighting 4kg, it is easy to carry around and to use, without any electromagnetic emissions, allowing also to choose the cooking temperature (low, medium, high).
These features make E-llum an interesting material for new design products, from clothing to furniture to “cooking desks”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Ways of Designing and hybridization: Giulio Iacchetti.

What does designing in an hybrid way mean? We have talked about it with the designer Giulio Iacchetti at the round table WOW! Office Design Ibrido. Two times Compasso d’Oro Award winner, with Moscardino and Sfera, designed along with Matteo Ragni, Iacchetti focus his work on the research and definition of new object typologies, in an approach that we can define hybrid.

From the half spoon and half fork Moscardino, Compasso d’Oro 2001, to the last Paper Tablet for Moleskine, hybridization has been always a feature of Giulio Iacchetti’s design.An way of approaching the project that we have discussed with him during the round table “Office Design Ibrido”, official event of the Design City Milano 2016, organized by WOW! and Dieffebi.

What does hybridization mean?
It’s a real contemporary word. I like to use the image of a mule, the best example of hybridization. It is not a negative example. For me the mule shows what a man can do when he looks for a compromise. Even if it doesn’t have the majesty of an horse or some features of the donkey, it has other and useful peculiarities, as his great resistance and his stubbornness to face the obstacles.

Which place does the hybridization have in the contemporary design?
I think hybridization is “the grey area” in the middle of the extreme trends of design, a specific place between the a generic solution and an hyper-specialized one, between originality and anonymity. It is the most interesting trend of contemporary design.

What does “grey area” mean?
Again, it is not a negative example, as people sometimes tend to see. Grey is a color that you can obtain mixing all the primary colors. It is really interesting, because nowadays we are all moving in hybrid, not defined, not fixed situations: it is a kind of contemporary instinct.

In which way do designers approach to an hybrid project?
Every designers try to create something new, therefore it tries to hybridize existing forms. The correct approach is to understand the value of different and apparently distant things and put this value into the design process. Projects are like bridges between different worlds, they are the link that create a new situation in the in-between area.

What was the experience of designing Moscardino in 1999, referring to the hybrid design?
We had to design an object that would allow people to easily consume food at happy hours, that were really successful in those years. We tried to hybrid the fork and the spoon in order to design an agile, versatile and small object allowing people to eat while standing. Moscardino was the result me and Matteo Ragni came up with. For sure hybrid has some limits: as someone said, “if you use it first as a spoon, then you’ll get your fingers dirty…”

What about the new project for Moleskine?
Moleskine is basically a paper object in a world where digital prevails. Designing this object I tried to identify myself in the hybrid dimension where we are all leaving nowadays, searching for a match between a smartphone and a paper agenda. That’s why we came up with Paper Tablet, a Moleskine with curved edges, with a shape that recalls a digital object. By this design I wanted to convey the potential of this notebook, that can be connected to a smartphone where you can download all the sketches and notes you have taken by hand through an app. It is a design based on the ambiguity of our age.

What is the meaning of an “hybrid world”?
Our job has become hybrid, our roles not defined, as well as the spaces we are living in and the objects we are using. All our life is oriented to flexibility, a dimension were we feel good, without any need of fixed boundaries. I guess the motto for the hybrid design can can be “less specialization, more freedom and usability”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Captions:
1. Rolo, Giulio Iacchetti, Internoitaliano. 2013
2. Surf-o-Morph, Giulio Iacchetti, project assistant Mario Scairato, Surfer’s Den. 2014
3. Siptel, Giulio Iacchetti, project assistant Alessandro Stabile Fontana Arte. 2015
4. Bard, Giulio Iacchetti, Internoitaliano. 2014. Photo Credits: Fabrizia Parisi
5. Paper Tablet, Giulio Iacchetti, Project Assistant Alessandro Stabile, Moleskine. 2016
6. Newcastle, Giulio Iacchetti, project assistant Alessandro Stabile, Meritalia. 2013
7. Ora In / Ora out, Giulio Iacchetti, project assistant Alessandro Stabile e Mario Scairato, Alessi. 2015 Photo Credits: Alessandro Milani e Matteo Imbriani.
8. Moscardino, Giulio Iacchetti e Matteo Ragni, Pandora Design. 2000

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