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A Place of Energy: the Red Bull HQ in Milan.

The Red Bull HQ in Milan express thoroughly the company’s mission: energize people. The architect firm Il Prisma has told the multi-faceted activity of the company all across the space, through four different worksettings, expressing the kind useful energy for a modern workplace: energy is nightlife, energy is take it easy, energy is sport and energy is adventure.

A workplace that “gives you wings” and expresses perfectly the vision of the company. That was the idea behind the Red Bull HQ in Milan, designed by Il Prisma, following their multidisciplinary approach “Redefine your habits, centred on innovation, technology and sensory perception.

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“Energy”
is the leading idea of the project and of the company’s vision that has inspired four different environments.
The “Welcome Experience” areas, as the entrance and the reception, recall the dynamism and amusement of the “Energy of the nightlife”. An experience of sharing, break and working, as well, where Red Bull cans are offered in small coolers on the side of the stairs.

The working environment is inspired by the adrenaline and adventurous activity that the company has sponsored in these years, and it aims to let people express their own talent and go beyond any difficulties.

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The spaces dedicated to teamworking are inspired by the sport’s value: tenacity, dynamism, sharing of the problems and ideas to reach a common goal.
Finally, “Energy is take it easy” is the slogan chosen for the break and relax areas. Slowing down, sometimes, is the key to productivity. Il Prisma has designed a playful atmosphere that helps workers to “recharge workers’ energy” and to create a fertile workplace where ideas are shared and actually take place.
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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Colors for workplaces with personality.

“Create space with personality” was the title of Sedus’s stand at Orgatec 2016. The company has devoted special attention to the study of color, to give the workplace environments different personalities according to the task performed, so that colours may affect our mood and behaviour. Here are a few hints.

The four guide themes- Energy, Nature, Water, Elegance- worked out by Sedus define its palettes. Each colour triggers different chemical reactions that may, for instance, increase or reduce the production of those hormones stimulating different states of mind.

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Sun and energy for task areas.
Warm colours -from red to orange to yellow-
improve our mood, pressure, heart rate and muscle activity. They boost rapid adrenalin production, thus stimulating more energy, action and communication. The advice is to use them for the workstations.

Hearth and nature for break areas.
The soft green colours evoke levity and have a calming effect on the nervous system, while the shades of brown evoke the earth, they are warm and soothing. The “Nature” palette is especially suitable for quiet areas for socializing or meant as library as well as break, lounge and dining areas.

Water and sky for brain-storming and teamwork areas.
The shades of blue
 and azure affect a decrease in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, they stimulate the parasympathetic system and creative imagination and intellectual work. They are especially suitable for brainstorming areas because they help to focused attention.

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Refined texture and materials for executive areas.
As for the executive lounges, the colour code ranges from the classic black to grey and white. Darker colours demonstrate respect, professionalism and reliability, instead white is the colour of clarity and conveys a feeling of simplicity, order and polish which excites a good attitude.

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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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No space for boring offices at #VL16.

Office as inspiration and innovation but also as a stimulating, young and dynamic habitat for creative talents. Ventura Lambrate, the FuoriSalone 2016’s area dedicated to new designers, offered some interesting ideas about the way the new generations see the working environment. From the innovative cardboard standing desk helloStandy, to the furniture of the In Our Office project by MA Lund University’s students, to Space Encounters’s Boring Collection, Milano Design Award’s Best Concept prize.

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Ergonomics and Wellbeing
are a priority for the Millennials, but often the offices of young designers or companies seem to be too small to become a productive a enjoyable working environment. To solve this problem the MA students from Lund University (Sweden), School of Industrial Design, has developed In Our Office, a concept of 12 pieces of furniture designed for young creative talents’ offices.

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The furniture itself create a cooperative and funny way of living the working environment: bunk or roll-away workstations, pop-up furniture landscapes, innovative solutions to increase either acoustic insulation and the need of privacy and concentration, blurring the line between informal and working environment and at the same time allowing to maximise the space.

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Healthy and capable of promoting dynamic ways of working: standing desks are a new trend in the office. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to change all the furniture or the interior design of a working environment to make space for them. That’s why Matteo Cracco and Federico De Megni created helloStandy, a simple and easy-to-open 50x50cm foldable cardboard square, 5mm thick, that allows to turn a normal workstation into a standing desk in few seconds.The synthesis of these projects lays in the concept behind the installation-happening Boring Collection, designed by Space Encounters for Lensvelt: sometimes it is not only about furniture, but about the vital energy that a workspace can emanate.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Captions:
Opening Zip it, Rae Bei-Han Kuo. A workplace always have distracting noise or annoying colleagues that don’t allow to concentrate properly on work. Zip It! is a sound insulator chair that can assume different configuration, allowing to live freely the interaction with the working environment.
1. Umbrella, Malin Yngvesson. A lamp created to facilitate privacy and concentration in the workspace, a shield from distraction.
2. Bunk Desk, André Gunnarsson. A smart solution for small offices with chatting problems: a “bunk desk” for new perspectives.
3. Workaround, Sofie Aschan Eriksson. A plastic and wood system, pop-up furniture landscape transforming along with the different activities and needs within a small scale office: a tool for creating trust and relations within a space.
4. helloStandy, Federico De Megni and Matteo Cracco. Presented at FuoriSalone 2016 the “desk extension” was designed to promote a new, healthier and more dynamic way of working”.

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Space, People , Technology: the Smart Working’s values.

Space – People – Technology. This is the new smart working’s keywords outlined in the meeting Smart Working: Detto, Fatto, organized by DEGW and Lombardini22. Smart working is not something about trends or styles, but is a proper economic and management topic, strictly linked to the company’s goals: a breakthrough towards an innovative business culture based on people management and capable to release energy.

“Today we are going through a real metamorphosis. At this stage, old rules don’t work anymore, but at the same time we are not ready to write new ones. Someone says there will be very few of them in the future”, Matteo Barone, managing partner and Employee Engagement of Methodos, opened the conference with these words.
“Once the 3P rule was considered the base of the organization: people, place, performance. You have a person with a potential, you put him in a place, and you expect a performance. But nowadays everything is changing, since the position paradigm is called into question, while the potential is becoming more important.
It is a breakthrough: less constraints, less perimeters and the chance to give space to all the processes that allow the potential in a company to fully express itself”.

Space. Smart working has changed the conception of the workplace.
Designing a new space, the company has to consider new factors, as the time an employee actually spend in the office (50% of the working time average) or which kind of activities he mostly does (team-working or individual).
As Alessandro Adamo, consultant and DEGW’s director, says: “the most important step to take on the way that leads to smart working is the first, in which you talk about the company’s vision and the goals, when you can consider how and how much is worth to go towards this transition”.
Another main topic about the workspace is sharing. The office design has moved away from fixed workstations, and nowadays it is based on the functionality of the space: each environment is made to be used for particular activities.
Some companies has pushed this innovation forward, developing the “no territoriality” concept, where no one, even the HR, has its own dedicated office or workstation. A choice that implies several problems, as secrecy and privacy.
“There is not only the issue of the space, there is also the issue of the way of using the space”, Alessandro Adamo continues.  ”When you develop different concepts, you need to change your way of acting in the space as well”.
It is worth to underline also the “space-branding”, a fundamental element for representing the business of the company and to make the employees perceive its philosophy, and the break and in-between areas’ development, made for encourage informal meetings, in line with the new ways of working.

People. Smart working requires a mind changing, most of all in leaders, that have to change the base of their leadership from control to accountability.
One of the main changing we can observe nowadays is that top-down organizations are giving way to bottom-up organizations, as also the evolution of the workspace shows.
The main resistance that a company has to face in the smart working’s transformation is the skepticism and suspiciousness of the people, as we already pointed out in the  WOW! Agile Working Island’s Jelly Sessions.
Every project has to answer to the question: how is it possible to turn this fear into enthusiasm?
Designing and engagement, listening and communication, people management and performance management: these are the keywords that must lead every change.
“When the pilot project starts, no one wants to be selected. However turning something you fear into something different bring some indisputable organizational benefits”, Alessandro Adamo concludes. “Once a manager of a company said to me “the mood of the people is changed”. Knowing precisely the effect that this has on numbers is very difficult, but when you change the mood, you automatically affect in a positive way the spirit of the team and the worker’s perception of the organization. And automatically you increase the productivity”.

Technology. Technology is the main driver towards this fast-paced changes, that are becoming day by day more compulsory for all the companies.
Technology has already allowed us to make the working time more flexible and to enlarge the space of the company by something we can call “digital expansion”.
“Wherever I can connect to the company’s server, in that moment it is like I am there”, Michele Dalmazzoni, Cisco Italia’s collaboration country leader and business transformation Cisco Italia.
There are two rules leading the development of technologies for office: they have to be easy-to-use and all integrated in only one device.
It is like selling a toy”, Michele Dalmazzoni says. “You don’t have to design a toy only to make the mum happy, but also the kids. That’s why you can’t create difficult and cutting-edge technological products that only the company’s IT can use. The most important thing is the user experience, even more than other fundamental parameters such as safety and innovation”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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