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Econocom Village: the “phygital” workplace.

A network of spaces, technology and people that redefines the relationship between physical and digital reality, a website to surf bodily. The interior design of the Econocom Village by Il Prisma is thought for dynamic and innovative ways of working, smart collaboration and open innovation, in the renovated space La Forgiatura, projected by Giuseppe Tortato and developed by RealStep.

A challenge that has seen several professionals and companies working on the renovation 6.000 sqm in less than a year, with new green spaces and the link structures between La Forgia and La Tecnica, the main areas of the Econocom Village in Milan.

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“It was not easy to integrate a new building in a magical place as La Forgiatura, an example of urban regeneration known and appreciated worldwide” the architect Giuseppe Tortato said, describing the four bridges with metal trusses that enshrine a wide 8-meters-high internal hall and double-height meeting rooms overlooking the new green areas.
On the glass facade corten steel is used to create rhythmical elements while on the surface areas exposed to the sun, a microperforated metal shielding helps to reduce the consumptions for the air conditioning of the internal spaces.

Following the insights given by neurosciences for the workplace interior design, collected in their book Now We Work, Il Prisma has designed the interiors of the five buildings, creating a stimulating environment, that involves all the five senses, redefining the relationship between physical and digital reality.


The project is based on the Econocom’s concept “Wiring connection”, creating a network of colored lines linking space, where different experiences take place: blue leads to places for relaxing or concentration, yellow to spots that foster happiness and cheerfulness, red to informal meeting environments and magenta to areas thought to stimulate creativity.

At the entrance, a building inspired by a Green House and a tunnel, where a programmable LED lighting system can create different scenarios, welcomes the visitors and create an anticipation of the engaging different areas of the Econocom Village: working open space areas aside, the buildings include a gym, a Lounge Music Club for hosting musical events, band room hosting a web radio, and a restaurant. There are also different spaces dedicated to clients: a Disaster Recovery Area for the technical assistance, tech laboratories for kids and the Academy for adult’s education.

Testo di Gabriele Masi.

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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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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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New trends from Worktech17: Living Office, co-design and IoT.

A self-learning space, open-designed for the future needs, based on the individual experience and wellbeing. This is the way of designing that was debated at the forum Worktech 2017, among leader companies as Herman Miller and Interface and architecture firms like Carlo Ratti Associati, Zaha Hadid Architects and Studio Banana.

The office must follow the life that takes place in it. That’s the core of the Herman Miller’s seven provocations, seven statements thought to guide the discussion between designers and companies, and based on the last company’s research “Living Office”, presented at Worktech17, one of the worldwide most important forum dedicated to real estate, technology and innovation. The study has involved anthropologists, psychologists and designers in a new holistic approach to the workplace, aiming to define the facts we need to understand when we think about today’s ways of working.


One of these provocations states: “we feel before we think”. The environment has a great impact on us, therefore it is the main feature we have to take care of. It must be a living environment, where communication takes constantly place (quoting a provocation, “you + me = 3”) in a “wonderful mess” that facilitate creativity and innovation.


Ulrich Blum, from Zaha Hadid Architects, has given a really good insight during his speech “The self-learning workplace”, describing a way of designing that starts from the use of IoT and sensors to collect data about the habits of every employee. “We have to think about the office as a “living network” Blum said. The data are divided in different parameters as distance, visibility and lighting, in order to give to designers the right knowledges to create a space that fits with the needs of every single person living in the workplace, optimizing the desk arrangement, the communication, the use of working time and the disposition of different environments. Furthermore, datas give the opportunity, using the generated algorithms, for creating more effective team works and arrange them in an ideal workplace. “The idea is to enhance the hierarchy of the office as it really is, and not as it is in the boss’s mind. We have to join furniture and artificial intelligence in order to increase the flexibility the furniture can give us”, Blum concludes.

As we can already see, technology is crucial in nowadays office, even though, quoting another provocation, “we have to forget about it”, meaning it has to be like a comfortable shoe: we have to perfectly walk in it, without feeling anything. As Marco Maria Pedrazzo, by Carlo Ratti Associates, said, exposing the firm’s research about the “technological management of the workplace”, “technology has to create a resilient environment. We have to change our perspective: it is the environment that has to adapt to us, not us to the environment. We have to design as we are designing 20 years ahead, and the only way to do that is making experiments, trying prototypes and see how people react to them“.

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Even though it seems in contrast with Herman Miller’s provocation “The next thing isn’t for you”, it isn’t, because innovation must be based on the company’s culture, and design must fit with the actual ways of working and corporate policy of each situation, but at the same time it has to be open-designed, giving the chance of being reinvented in the future, following the evolution of the company itself and of the times.
Something too ahead, in fact, can scare people, while innovation has to generate engagement, fulfilment and happiness.


Key Portilla, from Studio Banana, suggested some interesting approach, like co-design sessions, where managers and employee are an active part in the workplace’s construction or restyling, or university-campus-like offices, based on a different environment that supports different states of mind and activity.


Finally, even in a new tech-workspace, nature can be the secret of a happy and stress-free office. Oliver Heath, from Interface, has talked about “biophilic design“, meaning the need to recreate the “sense of nature“, enhancing the presence of real natural elements, like light, plants and water, or a reference to them, using colors, patterns and materials that help to recreate visually and emotionally the feeling of really being in a natural environment.
Report by Mario Colombo (Herman Miller), editing by Gabriele Masi.



Two new awards to Caimi Brevetti for Snowsound by German Design Award 2018.

Two new awards to Caimi Brevetti for Snowsound by German Design Award 2018: a new prizes to the calculation software and a Special Mention to Diesis sound absorbing element, designed by Atelier Mendini. Both the products were also awarded by Neocon last summer.

German Design Award is an authoritative competition funded by Bundestag since 1953 acknowledging products that represent pioneering contributions to the international design landscape.


Snowsound products and technologies are covered by exclusive patents that represent the result of intense in progress research and development in collaboration with Universities and Research Institutes.

The Snowsound calculation software has won the prestigious German Design Award award 2018 in the category “Excellent Communications Design Interactive User Experience”.
The importance of the award underlines once again the excellence of the calculation software that Caimi Brevetti makes available to its dealers.


Special Mention to Diesis sound absorbing element, designed by Alessandro Mendini e Francesco Mendini –Atelier Mendini- made with the patented Snowsound Fiber technology.
It is a system of sound-absorbing Snowsound Fiber drapes, realized with soft interwoven polyester fibers that are inherently fire-resistant (in different versions: steel structure, free-standing or hanging).
The interaction between its special acoustic fibers and its particular shape leads to signification reduction in annoying acoustic reverberation, thus improving acoustic comfort and life quality.

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Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.


There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.


If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:


 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.


 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.


4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.


5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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A major International corporation with 100 years of history.

Born in Como and a cosmopolite by vocation, Mario Colombo likes to establish relations with customers and retailers from different cultures and countries, for he believes that understanding diversity can be the key to a stable growth in all areas.
Now sales director for Herman Miller, a fitting role, as this International corporation was established in Michigan over one century ago and is worldwide renowned as  an example of innovation and excellence in design.

What are Herman Miller’s hallmarks?

Its acknowledged guidelines could be summed up in one sentence: “Design doesn’t mean business only, but it’s also a moral duty”.Herman Miller’s mission is the creation of design solutions to help people to do great things.That sums up our attitude in the approach to workplace and product design, always highlighting the central role of the individual. Along with this principle, there is an on-going commitment to the environment, a focus since the 50s.


How do these values become a driver for your strategies?

Each product must be carried out through the so-called “Human Centric Design”. If it serves no purpose useful for the user, the objective has not been met. This modus operand is woven in the company’s genes and we work together with designers such as Yves Behar, Studio 7.5,Tim Wallace and more, who share our attitude and our passion.
Our environmental objectives go hand in hand with the design process. Each item is assessed for its recyclability at its end-of-life, but it’s likewise important to carry out products meant to last. For instance, the chair Aeron now available in the new version Remastered, up to 91% recyclable, carries a twelve-year guarantee, 24 h a day.

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Herman Miller has always been innovation-oriented, offering novel visions for the office (for example Action Office or Aeron). Such extraordinary evolutions are still possible today? 

The office scenario is constantly evolving, therefore it’s difficult to foresee how things are going to change over five or ten years.
Home office is now spreading in Europe and the Mediterranean area, flexibility is a guideline for many organizations, which could suggest a progressive and radical reshaping of the office. I think that teamwork areas are going to be more and more prevalent, hence companies like Herman Miller will try to find the best way to support the people, who work there. We have designers all over the world, who are developing new products, and new things are expected in the European and global market.

As a Sales Director for the vast area that stretches from Portugal to Israel, including Italy, do you find any difference in the culture of work, requirements and ways of working in the different countries?

Obviously, in such a vast area I can see a culturally diverse context and I’d rather make a distinction between an International consumer base and local organizations. The multinational companies have often standard operational guidelines throughout the world, for the choice of design as well, irrespective of the country in which they operate. Those organizations affected to a lesser extent by the global chain can still have an individual approach in their choices. The architects dealing with interior design, fit-out and design of new models are always the best ambassadors of the trends of modernization, because customers, both global and local, rely on them for advice. That’s a common denominator in all countries I work in. So diffusione through the architects is central for a company like ours, in order to expand our studies and the results achieved by observing the ways of working contained in the Living Office project.

Studies on issues and new prospects of the workplace that Herman Miller is developing in the US ares also applicable to the Mediterranean countries?

Many studies still come from the US, but we take into account that some trends are developed all over the world. We see the same trends in Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean area, open space and cooperative rooms.The Uk and Europe have been following this direction for many years and are moving even faster than the US. Another example is the request for sit-stand and height-adjustable tables in Scandinavia, and long before the Mediterranean area. Our latest studies concern “Happiness in the office”, a theme revealing how the dynamics of the approach to the office work are the same throughout the world, hence we are trying to understand the nature of our customers and the personality of workers, so that we can supply a holistic approach to the design of an office. This study is focused on the already mentioned Living Office project.


In the last few months, the Italian branch has changed in a lot of ways. What are the strengths and strategies planned to cope with the Italian market?

After working several years in the Export area, I’m very happy to do my part also for the Italian market. The Showroom Herman Miller in Milan is a European Hub that, along with Paris and London, makes even stronger our presence in the EMEA area.
My priority is to keep and, where necessary, step up an efficient distribution network, in line with the view of growing in the Mediterranean area, where we work through long-standing executives and also a younger generation, now part of a matrix form of organization like ours.
Some colleagues belong to reporting lines, that are not related to me but to the UK branch. The company has consolidated the South Europe region, including Italy, Iberia and East Med, to conform the strategies to such different areas, some of them already working with established markets – like Italy, where we have showrooms and offices – while others are working off site like East Med and Iberia. The spread of our studies is an asset we use gladly in the whole EMEA region – also in areas we deal with from Italy – which gives us visibility with customers and architects, who play a key role. The diffusion occurs through workshops events and conferences, carried out together with our Insight Group and run by colleagues mostly dealing with R&D.






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.


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”.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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. 


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.


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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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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Interface appointed Nigel Stansfield as president of EMEA.

Nigel Stansfield is the new president of EMEA appointed by Interface, the worldwide leader in the design and production of modular flooring products, committed to sustainability and minimising its impact on the environment while enhancing shareholder value. Innovation an sustainability are the key points included in the Stansfield ’s ambitious business objectives.

We have ambitious business objectives to drive global growth. Achieving these targets depends on innovation across our business and through the supply chain to provide new product offerings and grow the core carpet tile business. It’s a privilege to have been part of Interface for over 30 years and a pleasure to have the opportunity to lead the business forward and continue our journey in achieving these goals.” Stansfield quoted.
Stansfield has over 30 years’ experience in the industry at Interface and previously held a variety of roles in both manufacturing and innovations. He has had global responsibility for developing and implementing Interface’s strategies in innovations, sustainability, product and design, and most recently held the position of Chief Supply Chain Officer.

His extensive technological background and expertise will complement the company’s growth strategy throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Stansfield’s responsibility will be to drive growth in the core carpet tile business, while bringing new offerings to market and delivering supply chain efficiencies. He will also spearhead efforts to deliver Interface’s Mission Zero® commitments in the region, and pursue the company’s new Climate Take Back mission focused on addressing climate change.
In 2014 Interface commissioned The Human Spaces Report, a global research into biophilic design. The survey demonstrates the relationship between individuals and their environment can be a crucial determinant of how they feel, perform and interact with others. This research inspired The innovative Human Nature floor carpet collections.



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Ways of designing and creative energy: 13&9.

13&9, “The Soul of Design” is a interdisciplinary and multi awarded design studio founded in 2013 in Graz, by Anastasia Su and Martin Lesjak, architects, product and fashion designers. Their different backgrounds give them the flexibility to use unconventional skills in developing new products featured by a strong creative energy. 13&9 works for international companies (among these Artifort, BuzziSpace, Quinze & Milan) but they also design, produce and sell their own products. They combine functional needs and innovation with conceptual aesthetics and emotional components, in order to add a soul to the product value.

Why the name 13&9?
Anastasia Su: We wanted to have a universal name, numbers are something that are understandable globallyI represent the number 13, a digit that has followed me my entire life, from my day of birth to other significant moments. Martin’s number is 9. It’s his soccer number and very personal for him. We decided these numbers fit very well together as they symbolized partnership and something personal we built together.

Is your design approach the same everywhere and with all kinds of companies or does the approach change to the different situations?
Anastasia Su: Basically, for us, design starts with question of “relevance” behind the idea and how this relates to the function, new technologies, to environments as well including an emotional value. Our design searches for the “soul” and this requires not only fulfilling the requested purpose but also enabling the user to engage with the product. In addition to striving to add value for users we also seek that same extra value for our collaborators in our design approach. For example, when we collaborate with someone we want to know everything about their production process and materials so we can learn from each other in an aim to push the boundaries and achieve customized solutions.

Captions 1,2,3,4.

You operates on quite different markets and fields. Do your analyses show new users life styles and requirements?
Anastasia Su: The upcoming generations have grown up in a digital world where information transforms and influences their lifestyle. In general, they need transparency and want to know the stories and approaches behind the products they purchase so there is movement in the millennial generation to push for even more transparency and environmental responsibility and meaning.

Are there any conceptual “contaminations” and common elements between the many design areas you deals with?
Anastasia Su: If you are used to work collaboratively with competent partners for specific challenges and your curiosity is bigger than your previous experiences, then you are able to manage, especially in our case, different types of projects. Independent from the design areas there is always a strong need to create something innovative for individual or social use, because we don’t need another “nice object”. Sustainability is one of the main tenants of our conceptual strategy. On one hand there’s relevance and soul, but on the other hand it’s how we deal with our environment. We look to see if something can be part of a circle economy, use sustainable materials or be multifunctional, which is at our core.

Captions 5,6,7,8.

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?
Martin Lesjak: the workspace vision has changed dramatically, because the technology changes people behavior resulting to influences of the physical space. Therefore, the interior design and furniture products have to evolve to support this new user’s behavior.
The way forward with an information society has given us the opportunity to change formal framework conditions and we can now do our work in a creatively and spatially flexible manner. This is both healthier and a lot more fun. The human being and our human needs are the focus of this development and therefore the spaces and products need to reflect this.
The creative trend definitely goes more towards clarity. The focus is on wellbeing and health is reflected in the design – reduced but playful, interactive and multifunctional. Moreover, creative labs are stepping up to promote an out-of-the-box thinking.


What scenarios and evolutions do you expect for the office and the ways of working in the near future?
Martin Lesjak: Borders between categories and function such as working, hospitality, wellbeing and living are blurring and we are heading towards an undetermined activity based environment, at home as well as in the office, hotel or cafes. My office is where I am, but there is also an increasing need for well-designed social hubs, especially in the office places where people can come together physically.
The decisive issue in our view is to create spatially functional and atmospheric variety which allows every single person to find the ideal working environment for them in a moment. On the other-hand it is essential to address the functional layout of the office to facilitate meaningful exchanges.


1, Lean, by 13&9 for Quinze & Milan, is multifunctional furniture system that responds to the needs of a contemporary workday-life, stimulating both body and mind.
2, Relief Wall Art. Spatial sculpture supported by CAD programs; a customized, living interface between artwork and interior design.
3, Trigon by 13&9 for Lande. A flexible desk system based on the concept “breaking the right angle”.
4, Hot Desk by 13&9 for Lande. Modular stand-table system.
5, Jane, lighting for Xal. Tightly packed rows of ball chains and the narrow-beam lens optics break the light of LEDs into countless facets and reflections.
6,7, BuzziBalance, by 13&9 for BuzziSpace. An active alternative to static objects, which enables balanced posture and stimulates body and mind activity. Users can balance on the board during phone calls, creative meetings and inspirational breaks or use board in pairs for team building. By adding a pouf for active seating that supports conscious balancing, sedentary working can be avoided by training the body in a playful way.
8, Petram by 13&9 for Lande.A modular arrangement of furniture that merges functional and social needs by layering storage space, interactive seating, standing, and desk areas to optimize space usage and stimulate communication at the workplace. 

Caimi Brevetti, Flap, design by Alberto Meda, Francesco Meda

Caimi Brevetti wins DesignEuropa Awards 2016.

A new prize to Caimi Brevetti! Flap and the Snowsound technology, won the DesignEuropa Awards 2016 organized by EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office). in the category “Small Companies”.
And we are proud that another Italian brand, Giorgetto Giugiaro, is the winner of the Career Award.
Our thanks to Caimi and Giugiaro, that concretely promote Made in Italy innovation worldwide.

How many awards in the world by Caimi Brevetti, thanks to sound-absorbing panels Snowsound technology?
Among the 20 -or maybe more than 20- prizes won by Caimi Brevetti, the last one assigned to Flap (design by Alberto and Francesco Meda) on 30th November at the Unicredit Pavilion in Milan has a higher value.
Of course the Compasso d’Oro to Flap or the Green Guard Gold Certification or the “Innovation and Engineering Awards” by CES to Snowsound technology aren’t less important.
But the DesignEuropa Awards 2016 has a different value because the prize is organized exactly by the authoritative Institute responsible for the registration of all patents in the European Community and the finalists nomination includes excellent European companies and very innovative products.
It is not only Caimi Brevetti to win this award, but the Italian economy: it is an “Italian case-history“ that actually shows the real meaning of innovation and tangibly demonstrates that the best Made in Italy is more alive.
Thanks to Caimi, Italy is the winner.

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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.



New World of Work: HQ Microsoft in Milan.

An eclectic space with a “human touch”. The Microsoft headquarters in Milan, designed by DEGW, is inspired by the company’s project “New World of Work”, a flexible and technologically innovative approach to the smart working.

Flexibility, teamwork, openness and innovation are the four keywords of the Microsoft culture on which the company wanted to base also his headquarters in Milan.
That’s why DEGW has design the 7.500 sqm of the milanese Microsoft’s headquarters to allow a fluid organisation, with open-space work areas where everybody is free to move though the space, with an informal, domestic and playful atmosphere.
The non-assigned workstations on the various operating floors differ from each other in terms of layout and aesthetics in accordance with function, some encouraging communication and interaction and others more private, with meeting rooms and relaxation areas in between and customized “social hubs” focusing around three chosen themes: sport, nature and the city. 

A greater flexibility of the environment is made possible also by a cutting-edge technology solution as the Building Management System, capable to control the environment through sensors, apps, interactive screens and virtual assistants, allowing a dynamic interaction among people, space and information.
The entire project has also been inspired by the architecture of the building, projected by Herzog & De Meuron, in the Porta Nuova area, influenced by the concept of a Gothic-style Lombard cathedral.
“The Microsoft headquarters are a place where virtuality encounters and becomes reality”, Alessandro Adamo, DEGW director said. “It is not just a simple office, it is a dynamic, transparent and recognisable environment open to the city, a benchmark for the company and its clients and partners”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.


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The IoT needs a critical approach to design.

The Internet of Things is changing the product design, disclosing the need of a critical, open-minded, ahead of its time approach to the object. The workshop Critical design: changing the innovative thinking organized by Arper was an example of a multidisciplinary way of thinking, typical in the history of the italian design, essential to foresee and anticipate the future.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Quoting Henry Ford, Antonio Boso, Samsung Italia’s Head of Product Innovation, opened his speech at the workshop Critical design: changing the innovative thinking, analyzing the fact that even if we are leaving in a world where the consumer is considered the centre of the economical process, it is still up to the companies to guide and project the future.

However, every company, even a big one, by itself is not enough for this task, because “to foresee the future you need different ways of thinking and points of view”.
Every project needs nowadays an open dialogue, as the arch. Marco Piva underlined, and a fruitful interlocutor can really be the academic world. “Design is going toward a model of business”, professor Francesco Zurlo, coordinator of the Politecnico’s Product Design course, said. “The academic circles are becoming trustworthy observatory of the new trends and of the way of doing business. Today you need a multidisciplinary and “cross-thinking” approach: you can’t just do a lamp, for example: it has to be also soundproof, technological, connected,… We need to change our reality based on categories and compartments”.
Claudio Feltrin, Arper’s president, agreed with the analysis and added: “the italian critical approach to design can really become an asset. It is intuitive, artisanal, entrepreneurial, emotional and polyglot. The critical way of approaching design in fundamental to foresee and anticipate the future, receiving and translating the weak signal coming from the nowadays society”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Luca Laversa.

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The potential of live streaming.

Can the evolution of social media have an impact on the strategy of a company? Plantronics has launched an innovative campaign with the writer Rossella Canevari, one of the most popular italian Periscoper, showing the potential of live streaming in reaching new consumers.

“Since few years ago, people used to find the cutting edge technology on the office place. Nowadays the innovation starts from the consumers. The private experience needs to be shared and turn into an instrument for the company”. With these words Ilaria Santambrogio, italian country manager of Plantronics, introduced the live streaming campaign launched by the american company with Rossella Canevari as testimonial.
The italian writer and Periscope influencer has used the latest Plantronics’s technology to promote her new book “Life Refound” in a live streaming tour of significant cultural event.
Which are the most significant benefits of this new technology?
“Live streaming is something different from other form of communication. It gives an idea of authenticity and spontaneity, while it allows an immediate interaction with the public”, Rossella Canevari said. ”The choice of the testimonial needs to be based not only on the number of the followers of his community, but on their responsiveness and engagement.”
“Our products can be an instrument for this new ways of communicating”, Ilaria Santambrogio concluded. “This campaign is a test: using social media technology to advertise our technology”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Featured image by Franco Covi.


Innovation in workplace is the winner of Compasso d’Oro ADI.

It was a great pleasure to hear that several products from “Design for Work” category were among the winners of del XXIV Compasso d’Oro ADI, the oldest and most authoritative Design Award. In particular, I’m referring to Flap by Caimi Brevetti and Vela by Tecno, and also to the Special Mentions to LaPalma for Add and Unifor for SC&A (..and a little bit disappointed for Privée by Ares Line, not selected by the Jury).

Quite rewarding for me, too, in a way. Actually, being in the board of ADI Design Index in the category “Design for Work” I could take part in the selection of these products, I had followed their path during these three years and had supported their value in the various stages leading to the final prize.
Lately, the “workplace” trade had not aroused the Compasso d’Oro jury’s interest, but thanks to those companies who have invested in research and innovation and shown a coherent planning consistency, 2016 marks a turning point, thus proving that the technological devices are not the only work tools, although absolutely necessary and not just in an innovation-oriented field.
The quality of work, real and perceived, also comes from the physical space (one of the three key words of Smart Working together with technology and management).
And furnishings, along with other interior design components, bears upon this quality, provided that they actually offer something new, help to improve the wellbeing of people.

The secret of these products intended to become masterpieces can be found in these wise statements by some of the professionals winners of the ADI Compasso d’Oro Career Achievement Awards 2016:
“As design engineers we do something about it. We’re all about invention and improvement.” (James  Dyson, winner of international Career Achievement Award).
“I like to design products that last for years, products that are not intrusive and that give the feeling of having always been where you put them, but which also stimulate the imagination at the same time.” (Carlo Bartoli, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
“Italian design companies have shown that through expanding sensitivity and taste, the human capacity to connect the head, heart and hands is enhanced: a value that we associate with craftsmanship and incorporate into accepted Italian and therefore humanistic design.” (Rodrigo Rodriquez, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
“In the complexity of contemporary society there is always someone somewhere who is doing something unexpected and which goes in the right direction, that is, someone who has found how to deal with and solve a problem, while redefining and creating a new sociability at the same time.” (Ezio Manzini, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
We thank these promoters of the genuine vision of Design awarded by Compasso d’Oro.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

Captions (from left):
Flap di Caimi Brevetti (ADI Design Index 2014) design Alberto Meda, Francesco Meda. (Design for Work): “Compasso d’Oro for a free and versatile system that presents a new solution for invisible problems such as sound and noises.”
Vela di Tecno (ADI Design Index 2015) design Lievore Altherr Molina (Design for Work) “Compasso d’Oro for research that results in an elegant, lightweight, technological yet solid product that brilliantly integrates ergonomics and aesthetics”.
Add di Lapalma (ADI Design Index 2015) design Francesco Rota (Design for Work) “Special Mention for a Modular chair and backrest system for the design of waiting rooms or lounge environments”.
Parete SC&A di Unifor (ADI Design Index 2014) design Pierluigi Cerri, Alessandro Colombo – Studio Cerri & Associati (Design for Work) “Special mention. Only the glass walls are left exposed and it greatly lightens the perception of enclosed spaces so as to create a permeable, rational, and comfortable work environment”.



Domestic and office space in the IoT era.

Which impact does the advent of the Internet of Things have on the connection between the domestic and the office spaceThe presentation of Classe 300X13E, the first product of Eliot, the line by BTicino dedicated to the IoT in the domestic space, it’s the chance to reflect on how the changes in different environment are nowadays intertwined.

We have already talk about Classe 300X13E, the video entrypohone connected and controlled via wi-fi by smartphone, though a simple and intuitive app that allow you to open the door or the gate, to activate safety cameras or to turn on the light of the garden.However, during the official presentation in Milan, the words of Franco Villani, managing director of BTicino, has raised some questions: are we already in the IoT era? What does this imply? Which new connection are made between the office and the domestic space, already linked by the new ways of working?
The potential of the internet of things are evident. Even if Eliot is dedicated to a residential context, we see that everywhere the connected objects are taking hold, for example in the 4.0 factory or in the school. Someone said that technological revolution can be divided in three phases: when the inventions are considered ridiculous, when they are considered dangerous, and when they are obvious. Well, nobody here see Classe 300X13E as a ridiculous or dangerous object”.

Smart working has led us to think about the domestic and the working environment as more and more intertwined, and the internet of Things clearly helps this process.
The remote control of the house, for example, will have a positive impact over the workers’ mobility ( a smart working’s keyword).
On the other hand devices that are developed for the house can we transferred to the office or they can give the hint for similar object. For example Nuvo, the Eliot’s Hi-Fi sound system controlled by another app, can be also used in the office to manage and to promote the listening of the music in the office.
IoT and smart working are the two leading forces of the “domesticfication” of the office and of the “workingfication” of the home space: that’s why a new trend in one field can lead at the same time to an innovation for the other.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Cardboard and Wood: #din2016.

150 designers, more than 100 thousands visitors and different workshops and events: Din-Design In 2016 by Promotedesign.it has hosted successfully the best of self-made produced design and industrial at FuoriSalone 2016, where two antithetical materials like cardboard and wood stimulated creativity, versatility, experiments and innovation.

“This edition had very good results: very positive is the feedback I received from the exhibitors telling me that they met different buyers coming from different countries”. With these words Vincenzo Carbone, founder of Din-design In, has shown his satisfaction about the fourth edition of the exposition dedicated to the best of self-made produced design.
An exhibition that expresses the will of investigate the potential of a flexible, light and poor material like cardboard, of which all the set-up is made, and in particular the temporary shop by Carton Factory and the Conference Area and the InfoPoint by A4Adesign.
The company has also presented different products like the bookshelf Bookstack, the dish Plato, the chair and the couch Heaverest. Cardboard finds his way also in the office, where helloStandy has designed a practical and easy-to-use “extension” to turn every normal desk in a standing one.
While this material needs to be still fully experimented, wood is the classic, but still always open to new solutions and capable to stimulate the designer’s imagination.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

 Opening. Area Conference, A4Adesign. A Conference area made entirely by cardboard.
Havearest armchair, A4Adesign. The Havearest collection includes also a two-seats  sofa and a three seats one. All the objects were realised using recycling cardboard.
2. Standy +, helloStandy. The first standing desk made by cardboard, easy to open, close and place.
3. Playwood, Stefano Guerrieri. A wooden easy-to-use and practical modular furniture system.
Bookstack, A4Adesign. A Bookshelf made in cardboard, allowing a free configuration over four different levels.