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Which kind of music does the office play?

Rock, Funky, Indie or Techno: which kind of music do the contemporary office play? We ask it to the architects-DJs of the DJarch2017 at the Herman Miller showroom in Milan: Davide Cumini (iarchitects), Bruno De Rivo (e45), Antonina Gucciardi (Unispace) e Massimo Roy (Progetto CMR). Mario Colombo, Herman Miller’s sales director of the Mediterranean area, introduces us to the link between music and design, suggesting the great director’s cinema as an example to follow.

“Music is a very simple thing. How to position the music in the office space is a much more complicated thing”, says Mario Colombo. “This is a field where architects can explore more, becoming “architect of the sound”.

What if we compare the office layout and project to a kind? Which one would it be? Every architect has his own answer.

Bruno de Rivo (e45): office as indie and techno music.

Massimo Roy (Progetto CMR): office rocks!

Davide Cumini (iarchitects): a funky design studio.

Antonina Gucciardi (Unispace): the office is like a summer hit.


Text by Gabriele Masi.

Prysmian Hq: a workplace to make new WOWs grow.

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An efficient layout between the historical memory and the future: the Prysmian HQ in Milan, by the firm Maurizio Varratta Architetto (architecture) and DEGW (interior design) is conceived as an outgoing” space, dominated by the hierarchy-breaking open space design. The sustainable requalification of the building is centred on two bioclimatic glasshouses that link architectonically and socially the structures, the activities and the people of the four former factory blocks.

12.000 sqm office area and 1200 sqm glasshouses: these are the numbers of a smart working revolution that is taking place in the Italian headquarters of Prysmian.
In 2011 the world leader company for the production of cables for the energetic, telecommunication and optical fibre industries, begin the project to renovate the old factory complex in order to create a modern office space.

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The design by the firm Maurizio Varratta Architetto and DEGW has its core in the two bioclimatic glasshouses that link the four open space blocks of the building. These green oasis are not just a symbol of some of the most important smart working features (connectivity, well-being, sustainability, meeting, relationship, mobility), but also fundamental architectonical elements that allows a better natural enlightenment, energy saving and a better regulation of the internal microclimate, thanks to the sloping pitched structure of the covering capable of optimizing the solar radiation. 

The roof pitches facing north allow natural light to flow into the office blocks facing onto them without bringing in any extra heat and are fitted with shutters. Instead, the roof pitches facing south have adjustable mechanically-controlled shutters to provide natural lighting and, at the same time, keep out some of the direct sunlight and any extra inflow of heat.

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“The Prysmian HQ in Milan is a building complex with an apparently simple but technologically cutting-edge architectural form, which follows the very latest principles of energy sustainability, environmental quality, and respect for the environment. The old building was completely knocked down and all its constituent materials were recycled. It guarantees its occupants enjoy a good quality of life in accordance with the highest international standards”, the architect Varratta says.
Three of the factory blocks host on three levels the open space offices, meeting rooms, relax areas, and in a slighlty elevated area, the top management offices.
The fourth block, instead, is thought for hosting open and private events and activities, as congresses or training courses.

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The interior design by DEGW is inspired by the “Workplace change management” methodology, developed in collaboration with Methodos. According to this, every changing is a process that comes from the interaction and the participation of the people that live daily the environment, meanwhile, the design has to be a driver for the change.
Another brand of the Lombardini22 group, FUD Brand Making Factory, with Interbrand, has developed the space branding project.
Starting from the Prysmian logo on the bench of the reception, all the spaces tell about the company through some significant sentences, infographics, and products. Corporate values, such as ‘linking the future’,  are physically embodied in glass film showing infographics about the company’s worldwide operations in the form of words written in thick white plexiglass.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Dario Tettamanzi.

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Body, Mind and Environment: a 3D wellness in the office.

If anyone has to pick up a concept to sum up the nowadays evolution of the workplace, he would choose “feeling good”. As the biopsychosocial model has become used to defined wellness and health, the environment has been understood to have a fundamental role in shaping the different dimensions of employees’ well-being: physical, psychological and social.

Do you want to improve the level of well-being of the employees working in your company? Start from the environment they live in. The environment, infact, as also the OMS has recognized, highly affects the physical, mental and social state of humans. In the office design, as well, this concept has become essential to build the scaffold of a healthy and productive working ecosystem.

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Today’s office design is taking a step forward, in order to keep the workers healthy and therefore more productive. Problems and diseases of the musculoskeletal system due to wrong, long-lasting sitting positions, for example, are prevented by dynamic ways of working, agile workstations, sit-stand working desks, or unusual seats like the Technogym’s wellness ball or the ones that Kinnarps has presented at the last Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Also, the arrival of the IoT has played a fundamental role, helping to improve the quality of the air, the lighting and heating system, allowing also to personalize them through personal smartphones.
Moreover, other services in the office are thought to encourage the employee to take care of themselves: company restaurants with healthy menus and fully equipped gyms come along with wellness rooms and dedicated doctor’s appointment.

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If you’ve never heard about happiness at work at work, probably you have been in another planet for the last years. The working environment and HR management get inspiration from the marketing and advertising industries as “creator of experiences”, while it resembles more and more to a theme park, where anyone can try fun and different things. The keyword is “human experience”, a mix of engagement, fulfillment, and empowerment, capable of successfully leading the company through the future challenges.

A new interesting trend comes from the new findings from neuroscience that have brought in the office a new concept of equipped relax areas, music, and spaces capable of reducing stress and facilitate concentration, even in noisy and dynamic open spaces.

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

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Casual meeting as the occasion of new and original ideas. The office design aims to increase the chance of encounter among employees (in-between, break and informal meeting areas) and between the inside and the outside of the company (co-working spaces attracts external professionals while more frequently curious customers visit the exhibition spaces, attend classes or use the services offered by the company’s environment).

The symbol of the social experience of the workplace is the ever-present foosball table and the Dutch Plantronics office’s rehearsal room, while couches, armchairs and kitchen spaces enhance the home-feeling that a working space nowadays has to give. A good work-life balance, at last, helps to live more easily the working environment experience: company’s kindergartens, pets in the office, agile and smart working strategies are just some examples of the more and more blurred boundaries between office and private life.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Real Estate and the Human Experience in the office.

The workplace is more than a property, is a living ecosystem, where numerous experiences take place. The study by JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle’s brand name)Workplace powered by Human Experience” underlines three most important drivers: Engagement, Fulfilment and Empowerment. Real Estate is confirmed to be a powerful changing factor, leading a company through the present and future challenges.

“As workplace strategy moves from practical, design-based decision making to a more experience-led approach, expect an overlap with functions that have traditionally been the domain of HR teams. This will impact workspace design and decision-making”, with these words Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research di JLL Corporate Solutions, comments on their report “Workplace powered by Human Experience”.

The research was run over 40 client companies and 7.300 people (age 18-65), in 12 different countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, italy, Japan, India, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A. and Great Britain.

The study has found that there are three priorities to drive the change: Engagement, Empowerment and Fulfilment. Engagement means fostering a sense of commitment and creating mutual trust and kindness. Empowerment, instead, is about giving people a sense of control in their working environment and the opportunity to take the initiative, while fulfilment can be achieved making sure work feels comfortable “beyond the surface level of happiness”, giving the chance to grow professionally in a challenging environment.

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Some key findings of the research are that spaces dedicated to collaboration and teamwork have the strongest impact on productivity, that agility improve performance, and that effectiveness is linked to a low density in the workplace.
The innovative offices are the ones that offer a mixture of collaborative and community spaces, support services and creative environments. Additionally, 28% of the companies provide an incubator, a dedicated space enabling colleagues and external talent to develop personal projects while making use of the company infrastructure, support and advice.

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70% of the interviewed people agree that happiness at work is the key ingredient for a good human experience, while the 54% see positively Chief Happiness Officer should be fully devoted to employee wellbeing. While large corporations are still attractive, employees crave an entrepreneurial culture: 46% of employees aspire to work in a start-up environment.
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance” Marie Puybaraud concludes. “It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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“Be”, being well: a human-centred redevelopment.

Being well, productive, connected, innovative: the verb “to Be” is the centre of the contemporary workplace. The requalification of the business district in Cassina De’ Pecchi, next to Milan, by InvestiRE, design a modern vital village, thought to promote a productive interaction and wealthy working environment, through different services and integrating the outdoor and indoor space in the same concept. CBRE is the exclusive agent.

Nowadays revitalizing a working environment can’t be just about re-designing spaces and furniture. Evening if the “packaging” still plays a fundamental role, the core of the Real Estate project must be the “human experience” created by integrating internal and external spaces and services given by the company.

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That’s the concept that has driven the project of the requalification of the 40.000 sqm of the business district in Via Roma 108 in Cassina de’ Pecchi, few kilometers from Milano: productivity, engagement, and collaboration, good health and well-being practices for the people, all these key concepts of the modern workspace are expressed in the simple name that has been chosen: “Be”.

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The main building, re-designed by Park Associati, is created to promote socialization and collaboration, balancing private spaces with different environment to share among the companies and external professionals: co-working, meeting rooms, temporary offices and event rooms (up to 110 people).

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The peculiarity of the project, however, is the focus on the wellbeing and on the work-life balance of the workers. Along with dedicated space and services such as an healthy restaurant, a full-equipped gym and a nursery school, outiside pedestrian walkways pass through a private green park, with movable and fixed facilities, that aims to create a “continuum” between the space indoor and outdoor, recalling the idea of “The Walk by De Lucchi of a “peripatetic office”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

 

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When design sounds: Sound and Matter Design (Holon, Israel).

Acoustic, Design and Architecture have a long intertwined history. Sound and Matter, the last Design Museum Holon’s exhibition (29th June – 28th October), put it into an interesting perspective, transforming part of the building into a musical instrument, creating an experiential sound space and analyzing historic and contemporary object.

“With this exhibition, we wanted to provide visitors with something truly experiential where the building itself is given a voice and visitors find themselves listening to it. For the first time, the exhibition premises are used in their entirety with an attentive eye on how each sound, each piece, each element can and should be juxtaposed to the space at hand”. with these words Maya Dvash, Chief Curator of Design Museum Holon, introduces “Sound and Matter”, the last museum’s exhibition, realized in collaboration with Morel,  leading manufacturer of speaker components and audio systems company.

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Upon arrival, “The Sound of Architecture” an installation curated by Anat Safran and Lila Chitayat, exploits the building’s architecture and the capacity of its hollow corten ribbons to function as echo chambers to create an all-immersive “musical arena”. The Design Museum Holon’s iconic building, designed by Ron Arad, is transformed into a musical instrument, with 100 speakers located in different areas, and visitors become the composers, into a multi-sensory space.

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Inside the Museum, the Upper Gallery features “Seeing Sound”, an exhibition containing over 50 objects designed from the 1960s to the present. The curators,  Anat Safran, Lila Chitayat and Elisabetta Pisu, have divided the items into three categories – stationary, mobile, and interactive – exemplifying the conceptual shift from object design to the design of a user experience.
The lower galley, instead, hosts a resonating chamber, where original sound works composed especially for this space, are translated into visual representations influenced by the movement of the visitors: “Sense Sound” is designed to transport the people in an environment where movements of sound become visible and thus visual and tangible character of sound becomes clear.  

The materiality of sound is the key point of the other two exhibitions: the jewellery artist Dana Hakim Bercovich’s “Through the Mesh“, where metal mesh (speaker grille) used in loudspeakers and audio equipment are turned into unique jewellery pieces that can be worn on the body, and “Loops”, where different items from the Museum collection exemplify the importance of the notion fo repetition both in sound and in design.
Objects, space and environment: sound and matter found a real link along all the exhibition, and as Maya Dvash concludes, it appears clear how “Sound is one of the most significant “raw materials” in the designer’s toolbox”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 (June 23rd).

Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 is an event created to experiment the benefits of a dog-friendly office. Different companies are nowadays opening their spaces to pets in order to promote social interactions and to improve the wellbeing of the workers, allowing a better work-life balance. An example is Kurgo that has designed its own workplace as a creative environment, perfectly suitable for “dog colleagues”.

Born in 1999 form the idea of Pet Sitters International, the event Take Your Dog to Work Day encourages companies worldwide to allow their employees to bring their dogs and pets to work with them.

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Several studies, as the last one by the Banfield Pet Hospital and Mars Petcare, have proven so far the beneficial effects of pets in a working environment: reducing stress (85%), improving socialization (79%), work-life balance (85%) and productivity (67%).
An example of a total dog-friendly company is Kurgo (Salisbury, Massachusetts) that following their mission, has designed their office in order to create “the best doghouse ever”, using recycled materials as wood and steel shipping containers.

“Allowing people to take their dogs with them at work improve their life quality, creating a more relaxing atmosphere and improving the level of interaction among colleagues”, Marco Travaglia, Regional Director Southern Europe of Purina, another company following a pet-friendly approach.
Even if it seems just a matter of attitude, allowing animals in the office requires a good planning. An efficient example is the PAW (Pets at Work) project by Nestlé: after a selection process, made by a specialist, through observations questionaries about the dog’s behavior, the pet undergoes a three months trail period before he is allowed to freely enter the working environment. However, there are several environments where they are not permitted to go, as formal meeting rooms or eating areas. During the day, employees can decide where to leave their puppies, either in dedicated dog-friendly rooms or small garden or keeping them on a leash next to their desk.

For the companies and the workers willing to join the Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 on the 23rd June here are some advice given by the promoter of the event, Pet Sitters International:
1. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work.
2. Puppy-proof your work space, removing poisonous plants, hiding electrical cords and wires and securing toxic items such as correction fluid and permanent markers.
3. Consider if your dog can easily adapt to the office environment: if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider also how he has behaved in the past around strangers.
4. Prepare a doggie bag, including food, treats, bowls, toys, a leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant.
5. Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully.
6. Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog and remember to colleagues that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Opening: picture by Purina’s gallery.

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Working in a cloud: Lavazza HQ by Cino Zucchi.

Nuvola, the HQ Lavazza designed by Cino Zucchi, is a project that aims to regenerate an abandoned multifunctional area, opening it towards the city of Turin, while creating and transmitting the brand identity of the company. Conceived to facilitate smart and activity-based ways of working, the environment of the “Cloud” highlights some contemporary office trends as connectivity, interaction and the rediscovery of the importance of conviviality.

Nuvola, the Lavazza HQ by the arch. Cino Zucchi is based on the renovation of an 18.500 sqm. industrial complex in Turin, with a particular attention to the energetical and environmental sustainability (the project is running for the LEED Gold certification) and to create a space open towards the city. The office spaces, that will host about 600 employees, is conceived as the centre of the “Nuvola System”, that will include a public parking, a green square and an archaeological area dedicated to an early Christians basilica, discovered during the excavations.

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In addition, by 2018 the Lavazza Museum, De la centrale, will be inaugurated: an event space with a 1000 people capacity, including also the gourmet restaurant Condividere by Lavazza, designed along with Ferran Adrià and Dante Ferretti.
Also the relocation from the old offices has followed a sustainable process, recycling part of the furniture and donating over 3.000 pieces to schools, hospitals, and charities.
“The Hq represents how we conceive a contemporary company. It is not just about moving desks, it is moving forward towards a more integrated, stimulating and human-centred dimension. A comfortable and, at the same time, technologically advanced headquarters to connect the 90 countries where we operate”,  Giuseppe Lavazza, Vice Presidente Lavazza, says.

“We have based the space planning on the concept of an activity-based office, stressing the role of technology and environments in creating connectivity”Michele Aruanno by GTP comments.

“This advanced open space is not composed of separated environments and repeated lines of desks, but it is designed with adjustable and, at the same time, functionally defined environment, all furnished with acoustic partitions and recharge areas for devices, along with space for quick and informal meetings, as well as separated meeting rooms that allow to easily connect with the outside”.

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The value of “conviviality” and the importance of the ”coffee break” are two of the main feature of the project, literally translating the company’s activity into the ways of working: interaction and socialization are also expressed in different environments as the gym, the relax area and Bistrot, an innovative restaurant, designed by Cino Zucchi Architetti with RGA, in collaboration with Slow Food.

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Also, the new furniture is chosen to improve a smart working approach, encouraging wellbeing, comfort and sharing. Estel, as a contractor, has supplied tailor-made solutions, while also Arper, Sedus, Vitra, Artemide furniture has been used. Tecno has designed the mobile partitions, Underline the graphic communication, while the IoT and technological solution have been furnished by Samsung, Cisco and Acuson.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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10 trends for the future workplace.

A useful tool for employers for navigating in a landscape that is constantly evolving: Global Workplace Trends Report 2017 by Sodexo traces 10 main fields of innovation for the workplace, a roadmap to increase productivity, wellbeing, and quality of life comparing the current situation with future scenarios.

Clear and fast changes are happening in the conception of the working environment, although it is not easy to always understand which are the best trends for a company or how to apply them fruitfully. Sodexo, along with several experts of Columbia University, University of Granada, Harvard Center for Work e United Nations Foundation, has run a survey to help employers to make the best decisions, enlightening 10 main trends evolving different topics such as migrants, millennials, robots, environment, new technologies and social transformations:

1. Putting design thinking principles to work.
Design thinking has become a critical strategic imperative for organizations looking to put the employee experience first, rethinking all elements of the workplace.  Every aspect has to be designed considering the employee’s experience at first. Health and well-being become the foundation for designing workplaces that contribute to worker’s happiness and wellness.

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2. Unlocking the potential of millennial talent
By 2025 millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce, therefore companies are engaged in creating a culture where millennials employers are benefiting from the collaboration, creativity, and authenticity. Start-ups are representing a model for bigger enterprises that offer more freedom, flexibility, and mobility, encouraging millennial employees from taking the initiative on a new project, or even from having side jobs. That makes them more entrepreneurial (and provides a sense of freedom.

3. The agile organization.
In a recent study, Accenture has pointed out the companies with higher levels of both stabilizing structural backbone and velocity were 436 percent likelier to be seen as outstanding financial performers in their industries than those that lacked both. Agility is going to be the mode of operating of the future companies.

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4. The rise of cross-workplaces
Interaction is one of the main mantras of nowadays offices. Cross-working is encouraging employees to interact with a wide range of people across an organization to spark innovation and therefore new products, new processes, new services, new ways of organizing and new ways of thinking.

5. Employees without borders.
Corporations can play an important role in promoting a sense of belonging and a culture of inclusion among their workforces. Organizations are more frequently welcoming migrants into the workforce and leveraging their talents with an understanding of their immense value proposition. In the years ahead, those companies that already have corporate cultures with deep foundations in diversity and inclusion will be best suited to rise up to help their communities and to create innovative cross-cultural ways of thinking.

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6. The new generation of robotics.
Is the robotic a threat for employees? As the workplace becomes increasingly automated in the endless drive for greater efficiency and productivity, an anxious workforce worries that the machines mean human workers will be out of work. The future can be different: instead of wholesale personnel downsizing, employers will train and develop their people to empower workers to take on new and different roles.

7. Intergenerational learning.
The norms of work-related learning challenge the wisdom that older people teach while younger people learn: now workers of all ages contribute to one another, establishing longer and more dynamic careers that defy generational stereotypes. Intergenerational agility is a critical issue: by 2030, the percentage of the population aged 60 and over is expected to leap, from 12.3 percent in 2015 to 16.5 percent, and companies will be called to focus on successfully developing and managing a multigenerational workforce.

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8. Personal branding goes to work.
Personal and corporate brands are now overlapping, as organizations realize the value of the influencers in their workforce. It has been shown that brand messages are reshared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees. In the future will see a rise of companies with social employee advocacy programs, social listening programs and professional development plans that include instructions and governance models on how employees can enhance their personal brands while supporting company goals.

9. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Companies are called to an important social role: sustainable development is increasingly recognized as the legitimate responsibility of businesses. Organizations are becoming more creative, committed and consistently visible when it comes to sustainable development, alongside innovation and technology.

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10 Wellness 3.0.
As the boundaries between work and life continue to blur, today’s workers are seeking out a new and improved employee value proposition that includes a focus on all aspects of health and well-being.  And so employers are taking holistic approaches to workplace wellness, developing customized wellness programs that look at worker wellness as a true advantage.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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UnipolSai’s HQ in Milan: a building for a sustainable city.

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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