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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.

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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.

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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:

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 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.

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 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.

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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.

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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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4 prizes to Kinnarps by German Design Award 2018.

Kinnarps with its brands MartnStoll and Skandiform, was awarded by German Design Award,  the authoritative competition acknowledging products that represent pioneering contributions to the international design landscape.
Among the winners of the 2018 edition there are Collection S collection family chairs, Space system, Matsumoto table and Phase armchair.
The prize-giving ceremony will be held on February 9th in the context of  Ambiente fair in Frankfurt am Main.

More than 5000 entry products were presented to participate to the final selection for the German Design Award 2018. Following the rigorous selection by the jury, were awarded only those that represent the highest standards in terms of quality and innovation at international level.

“We are very proud to receive such a highly prestigious award and we thank the jury for acknowledging our design and awarding two products work where the aim was to combine comfort and top quality in the best possible way says and develop solutions for the office life of today and tomorrow, offering endless possibilities.” says Elisabeth Slunge, Director Global Range and Communications at Kinnarps.

To win the German Design Award is very attractive since you are nominated and can not apply for the award. This of course makes the award even more desirable.” says Maria Lehmann, Sales- and Marketing Manager at Skandiform.

Kinnarps is proud to receive the prestigious award for four products:

Collection S, by MartinStoll (brand of Kinnarps Group).
The Collection S executive chair family, designed by NOA Intelligent Design, is rooted in the heritage of the brand and consists of task chairs, meeting chairs and lounge chairs, which offer various functional features and share the high level of quality and the common design expression.
“The chair family has thought-out material choices and a high level of craftsmanship that well suit the executive environments
” quoted Martin Rau, International Product Manager for MartinStoll.
“It is based on sophisticated performance like perfect ergonomic functionality, high quality and durability. Where heritage and craftsmanship meet modern lightness and sculpture-like design. The series is created to fit ideal into modern advanced office life” explains the designers Michael Lammel and Markus Heller from NOA Intelligent Design.

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Space furniture/storage system by Kinnarps.
Space is a furniture concept designed by Stefan Brodbeck (Brodbeck Design) for today’s and tomorrow’s way of working, meeting and storing. The range is based on a large number of storage modules which are connected and combined depending on the functionality and look you want. The flexibility of the range enables both concentration and discussions as well as space for group and private areas.
Design creates differentiation as well as orientation. So does the storage system Space, which has exciting features and options to create functional but also emotional and inspiring office space solutions” explains the designer Stefan Brodbeck.

 

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Matsumoto, by Skandiform (brand of Kinnarps Group).
A table named after the Japanese city Matsumoto, where Claesson Koivisto Rune has designed a flagship store with a café. It is a completely new table with a different design made for cafées. A table for two was developed, which when lined up edge-to-edge forms a kind of long café table. The tabletop comes in white or blackstained ash, pillar and footplate in white or black lacquer.

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Phaze by Skandiform (brand of Kinnarps Group).
An armchair that embraces you, providing generous personal space. Several linked together create a beautiful, undulating shape.
I was thinking of a design that embraces my philosophy of sensual minimalism and repetition.” said the designer Karim Rashid.

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Communication via architecture for a new WOW-effect office.

“The design of the office space has to focus on the structure of the human collaboration and communication”. The idea of workplace presented by the trend expert Birgit Gebhardt at the showroom Dieffebi is based on a “landscape of learning”, where networks and data will allow every individual to find his own way of expressing himself, through constant development and self-organization.

Will the office loose its WOW effect in the future, replaced by different spaces more suitable for a more creative, convenient and flexible kind of job? It is a pretty ongoing question that Birgit Gebhardt has studied for the last years, focusing on how we have to rethink the office space in order to let it have an important role still to play.

That was the topic of the lecture “The evolution of Smart Working: Rethink human work, redesign your office”, held by the German trend expert during the Brera Design Days at the Dieffebi Showroom, that celebrates for the occasion the first year of opening. Our society, as long as the economic world, is going through a radical structural change: from an industry-focused system, based on concepts like massification and standardization, we are moving toward the digital era where network and data produce a massive layer of information that help us to focus and produce at an individual scale.
If once the motto was “bigger, faster, further, cheaper”, nowadays is more like “unique, on the spot, feasible by anybody, as many as needed”.

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Communication and collaboration are becoming the core of this new structure and therefore they are changing also the way of designing and living the workplace.
The office can’t be anymore the stiff and hierarchical environment, where the inside is hidden from the outside, but it has to be a transparent, intelligent and malleable space, a stage where competences and performance can happen freely.
A communication via architecture is therefore fundamental, enhancing the different structure and social and psychological features of the collaboration and communication processes, offering a variety of codes and sensual stimulations, that allow the people to build a profitable learning culture.

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“Learning” is another keyword of the future office. In fact, communication and collaboration are not sterile events, but their main focus has to be the developing of personal and group competences and creativity.
The workplace has to become a blended learning space, where like in gaming, everyone is free to try and experiment, where, as Gebhardt suggested no one should be afraid of thinking in a totally different direction”. We need to create, therefore, a “landscape of learning”, based on a free and constant process, and on a good self-organization.

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At the same time, it is necessary to create an environment where design and people are strictly connected, entangled, and capable of freely modifying one another. “A space that can’t be too designed: you need to touch it, to change it. If it is too designed, people won’t touch it”. So it is not just the human being to adapt to the situation, but it also the other way around. A stimulating space, finally, is a workplace where people are allowed also “not to focus”. As neuroscience shows, to be creative we need alpha waves that our brain produces when we are not too concentrated on one particular task. That’s why another catchphrase of the future office might be “Let it happen”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures from New Work Order by Birgit Gebhardt
Captions:
1. The School of Athen, Raphael: a model for the nowadays office space
2. The metaphorical pictograms used by Rosan Bosch
3. Ørestad Gymnasium, Denmark, picture by Adam Mørk.

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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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“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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Two prestigious prizes to celebrate Kinnarps’s 75th anniversary.

Moment of glory for Kinnarps, winner of two very prestigious prizes: its stand was appointed “Best Stand” by Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair’s award – Editors’ Choice.
And two Kinnarps’s products –Space and Fields– have been awarded by iF Product Design Award 2017. The best way to celebrate its 75th anniversary!

“Silhouettes of Kinnarps” is the title of the amazing blue installation created for Stockholm Furniture 2017, an architectural monument that celebrates the company’s 75-year history, its present and its future. The jury of “Editor’s Choice Award” concluded that it was the Best Stand at the fair.
“We are of course very happy for this award. Kinnarps celebrates 75 years this year, so we wanted to draw attention to our history, but also our present and future in the stand. We want to show our offer “Workspace Solutions” that lead to wellbeing and prosperity and offer our visitors an experience. We see this award as a proof that we have succeeded” says Elisabeth Slunge, Director Global Range & Communications.
The Creative Director for Kinnarps’ stand is Johan Ronnestam
– an innovator, entrepreneur and experienced brand expert. To create the stand, he teamed up with Björn Förstberg and Mikael Ling from Förstberg Ling, an architectural and design agency in Malmö experienced in both architecture and interior design.


“The construction is a space where people can meet, share ideas and be inspired. It’s a celebration of the Kinnarps history and future. A concept intended to celebrate 75 years by inviting the visitors to become part of the experience. The modern workspace solution is an open atmosphere where conversations between people, creativity and productivity leads to innovation. This were the key components we wanted to communicate when we created this transparent construction – says Björn Förstberg and Mikael Ling- For us, the concept “The Silhouettes of Kinnarps”, is a temple of transparency and sophisticated detailing that shares design principles with the company’s workspace philosophy.”

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Photo by Åke E:son Lindman. 

Space and Fields win iF Product Design Award 2017.

Inside its “Best Stand” Kinnarps displayed its products and concepts, among them two furniture systems -Space and Fields- were awarded by iF Product Design Award 2017.
“We are honoured that our products have received awards of this nature.- says Elisabeth Slunge, Director Global Range & Communications at Kinnarps– The iF Product Design Award is a highly prestigious award and proves that Kinnarps creates world class furniture. Both Space and Fields are a range of furniture for the modern day workplace, adapted to be flexible and meet the individual demands and requirements of today’s working life.”

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Space, designed by Stefan Brodbeck (Brodbeck design) is a furniture concept for today’s and tomorrow’s way of working, meeting and storing. The range is based on a large number of storage modules which are connected and combined depending on the functionality and look you want. The flexibility of the range enables both concentration and discussions as well as space for group and private areas.

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Fields, designed by Olle Gyllang (Propeller Design AB), is a range that works as a link between the traditional workplace and meeting rooms. With the furniture range it is possible to create shared environments, meeting areas, rooms within rooms, creative environments and spaces for concentrated work or private workplaces. The range also consists of a number of modules which can be combined, linked together and placed in a wide range of different ways. The range, contains sofas, easy chairs, tables, screens and accessories.

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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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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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Furnishings for task area at Orgatec..

The desk systems launched at Orgatec 2016 allow to bring people together around a table or separate them with small screens; they are ergonomic and very often height-adjustable for sit-stand work.
The storage systems become interior design elements: useful modular dividers in open plan offices. High customization and space saving are the common elements to the desking and storage system selected by WOW!

Sedus, Grand Slam + se-Wall.
Clever combinations of desks, storage system, screens and transparent elements, to create a functional storage and working area in open-plan landscapes. The multifunctional elements can be configured as required with a wide range of flexible options, which can also be expanded into corporate communication areas.

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Estel, I Pianeti.
This desking system removes the classical rigidity of the office. It is constructed along a horizontal along a central point of sequenced containers that supports cabling functions for the desks, interspersed with sound-absorbing wall partitions.

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Unifor, Teamer, design by Michele De Lucchi + Cases, design by Jean Nouvel.
Configuration of four facing workstations with ends fixed and designed to accommodate brief informal meetings. It is supported by a central steel column that taper down from below the table to the base plate fixed below the raised flooring. A freely composed group of Cases modular containers and open storage elements in natural wood provides the workstations with filing and storage space.

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Haworth, Be_Hold.
A storage system to support different work styles – from highly collaborative to focused – while leveraging design elements(perforated metal, colors, fabric element, lockers, sliding cabinets…) create functional workspaces with an individual personality.

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Vitra, Cyl, design by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.
The Cyl system encompasses a variety of different sized tables. Solid wood emphasises the clean lines of the system with its smooth planes, structural frame and cylindrical elements. As an intentionally ‘analogue’ system, Cyl dispenses with integrated power solutions. “It was originally conceived for the home… I think the simplicity of Cyl responds to a demand for clarity and fosters a welcoming atmosphere in the office world”, explains Ronan Bouroullec.

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Sinetica, Stay, design by Paolo Mantero + Use Me.
A complete abacus of modular surfaces with nicely rounded shapes to create endless compositions, stand alone   or integrated, with cabinets and libraries  from the Use Me collection. The table in all its functions and forms, from the operative office to managerial, from the meeting room to collaborative environments. Wood and fabric suggest residential and contract situations.

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Ersa, Edge, design by Claudio Bellini.
In addition to the different leg design, the metal construction of the system and the recyclable felt-covered partitions also make the system stand apart with its style, function and acoustic capabilities. It can be fitted with cabling, planters and lighting.

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True, Wing, design Parisotto + Formenton.
The table was born for workspaces, but is also suitable for home-office and residential. The light structure, is inspired by the work tables stands, the top has rounded “soap bar” shapes.

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Vitra, CDS, design by Antonio Citterio.
A desk system with an industrial aesthetic. it is available in a variety of configurations and models, including the sit-stand one. Structural sophistication and logistical efficiency are the plus.

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Kokuyo, Rolling Workspace, design by Nendo.
.Circular whiteboards can be freely rolled around in the workplace and leaned against the wall. Desks, benches, and high counters that match these circular whiteboards were also designed with slits cut into them, enabling combinations with large and small boards.

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Hybrid Office Design against hyper-specialization.

Organized by WOW! together with Dieffebi at the opening ceremony of their new showroom in Milan, the panel discussion “Office Design Ibrido” was an official event of the last #DesigncityMilano that has opened new perspectives on the hybrid design. Nowadays everything is getting hybrid: spaces, objects and furniture, mixing together different functions and features, trying to cope with a more flexible and fluid lifestyle and work style.

Hydridization is one of the keywords of the contemporary design. It is the “grey area” of the project, as it was defined by the designer Giulio Iacchetti. “Grey is not something negative as sometimes we use to think: it is the mix of the three primary colors”. Presenting his new project, the Smart Writing Desk by Moleskine, Giulio Iacchetti has focused on the constant research of the contemporary design, far away from the super-specialized object, keen to join together the traditional objects with the new technological innovations.
This is the kind of research capable of rediscover the potential of these object, like a notebook (Paper Tablet by Giulio Iacchetti), a pen, which a digital company like Microsoft has found to be still extremely useful in a learning and creative process, and a aluminum paper, that the company e-wenco has turned into an autonomous heating and cooking system in their Notecook.
As Claudia Bonatti, manager of Microsoft’s office division, said, the technology is the real driver in these design revolution, changing everyone’s ways of working and living and therefore bringing changes in interaction between the company and the consumers and in the way of thinking, designing and producing the product.

How is it possible to face the challenges of this new trend? The 40 years Dieffebi’s history, told by the president Alberto De Zan, shows how a company can renovate itself, trying ceaselessly to find and add new hybrid solutions for their products, in order to satisfy the always new consumer’s needings. An example of this way of thinking is in the new products as the seat-cabinets CBox, design to allow the user to have always the important files or objects at his fingertips, or the soundproof bookcases Primo 1000 acoustic. Products like these are perfect for the new office spaces, like the ones Cesare Chichi by 967 has shown during his speech, tracing the hybrid scenario of the contemporary office, “from the paper to the digital and comeback”, form the home office to the home “in” office, till the hybridization between the desk and the urban space.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
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A Creative Campus in Milan: Jenner 19.

“Turning a sad, empty property into an inviting, creative campus presented a huge challenge, overcome thanks to the vision and determination of everyone involved”. The architect Jacopo della Fontana’s words summarize the project of the Publicis Group’s Creative Campus in Milan: a place designed for all the workers’ well being, an office that “people have no desire to leave, simply because they feel good”.

A garden, a playing field, a vegetable garden, a kindergarten, a restaurant, a gym, a bar and a cinema: “It sounds like the description of a holiday resort, but it’s actually an office, where bedrooms are replaced with flexible workstations with a new, colourful, modern appearance.” Publicis Group and Jacopo della Fontana (D2U) focused the project of the Creative Campus of Jenner st. 19 in Milan, on the main garden, designed by HW Style, the centre of the social life and interaction for the over 700 people that live in the building everyday. A space where the workers of the different companies, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis meet and enjoy the areas for breaks or informal meetings, the basketball/futsal court, the vegetable garden, or gym.

Although exchange and interconnection are the core of the project, the companies have their own distinct working environment, with three different doorways, equally visible on the facade where screen-printed, coloured film was applied, which creates a highly colourful, dynamic effect.
Also the ground floor is dedicated to areas serving all the agencies, with a cafeteria and a large theatre with 100 seats, numerous meeting rooms of different sizes and a crèche.
An uniform approach has been used also for the upper floors, where the different offices follow the same design, marked by some variants in terms of style: modular desks, perpendicular to the windows, occupy the open space , shielded from the corridor by 1.80 m partitions, in different colours and shapes according to the company they belong to.
The interior has been enriched with designed furniture from different brands as the dealer Cardex, and the top level suppliers; among them: Caimi Brevetti (Snowbound sound absorbing panels), dieffebi (storage),  Interface (floor covering), Universal Selecta (partition walls).
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Offices for the community.

“From the company’s identity to the community, from the brand concept to the people”. Buongiorno offices in Milan by cristianavannini | arc were designed with the “start-up mentality”, multifunctional, fluid and avoiding fixed framework.

Place, ways and time of working are evolving rapidly, especially the office which is the centre of a new relationship between people and space. Hierarchies are falling apart, the environment is becoming hybrid, articulate, democratic, and the work itself comes out from the defined area of the office and features typical of the home environment enter the workspace”.
The Buongiorno office in Milan follows the words of its architect, Cristiana Vannini: located in the city Centre, close to “Parco delle Basiliche”, the early 1900s historical building that hosts the company has been completely renovated to give a new contemporary and dynamic twist to the interiors.

Common spaces build ties with working areas, from the ground floor, where the reception and a multifunctional area are located, to the higher floors where a meeting rooms and private offices alternated with common spaces like coffee-points and telephone booth areas.
Minimal colors palette, distinguishing textures and wall lettering are the basics of these elegant and cozy offices, approaching and defining Buongiorno’s corporate image, along with the customised furniture.
“Another current trend is the requalification of the already existing estate”, Vannini says. ”Today design has to adapt to the old buildings for a new request of functionality, through new systems and technologically advance materials”. This idea was applied to the 1500 sqm space Buongiorno offices, communicating an idea of modernity and innovation, but keeping at the same time the simplicity and some taste of the historical building.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Photos by Saverio Lombardi Vallauri and Luca Rotondo 

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Art at the milanese Chapman Taylor’s offices.

An efficient and flexible space, a place with a strong identity: for their milanese office Chapman Taylor have chosen an old oil and distillery warehouses, restructured into a functional environment capable to promote the new WOW and to integrate different professional competences. The symbol of the creativity and the mutual exchange, fundamental principle of the company’s  history.

When the Chapman Taylor offices in Pietrasanta st. in Milan was inaugurated, more than 150 people attended the event in which the company told its story, through videos, installations and live performance. The inauguration involved directly the public in an interactive game/exhibition where the attendants were invited to show themselves establishing a relationship of mutual exchange.

“Mutual exchange” is the idea that stands behind the project that involves 350 sqm space with more than 40 workstations, some of which are dedicated to coworking for professionals, freelancers an collaborators.
An exchange also with the history of the building, a location that has already gone through many adaptations over the years from warehouse as well as a creative centre for theaters, photography studios, and a design school. That why the approach applied to the reinvention of the buildings is soft and conservative, as it is shown by the retention of original window frames and and the use of steel to realise them, the curvature of the vaulted arches in the roof is retained, the restoration of walls to bring out the red bricks, and the reopening of two previous closed windows.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Working in a thermal bubble (Carlo Ratti Associati).

A personalised heating, cooling and lighting system which follows each worker as he moves around the office: Carlo Ratti Associati turns the environment of the Agnelli Foundation’s headquarters in Turin in a “tailor-made” workspace, capable to synchronised to its users’ need and limit energy waste.

Carlo Ratti Associati has made the research in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) the core of their design: from the Local Warming at the Biennale di Venezia 2014 and the at the Dubai’s Museum of Future Government Services in 2015, to the Future Food District at the EXPO 2015.
The thermal and lighting bubble projected for the Agnelli Foundation’s headquarters in Turin (Italy), brings the IoT further into a more sustainable architecture and taking one of the key concept of the contemporary office interior design, flexibility, also into not tangible, but important environmental feature, such as humidity or light.
“Today, a lot of energy is wasted heating or cooling empty buildings”, says professor Carlo Ratti. “By synchronizing energy usage and human occupancy within buildings we can create a more sustainable and responsive architecture, theoretically slashing energy consumption by up to 40%.”

The system uses sensors to collect datas from the environment, such as CO2 concentration, temperature or the number of occupants in the room. Than it processes these datas in a BMS system that respond adjusting the lighting, the heating, the level of the cooling system and also managing the usage of the different rooms.
The personalisation of the systems allows every worker to set his own preferred temperature through a smartphone app. So when anyone enters the room a thermal bubble follows him activating fan coil units, situated in the false ceilings, and recreating his chosen environmental conditions. When an occupant leaves, the room returns naturally to standby.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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10 rules for the new WOW’s ergonomics.

A working environment must be based on trust, sense of community and a communal growing process: the case studies we have analysed during the Jelly Session “Ergonomics, comfort and he alt promotion in the smart office” at the WOW! Agile Working Island 2016 suggested us a rulebook that we have called the Decalogue for the ergonomics of the new WOWs. A framework that we have developed with all the expert that took part of the meeting, suggesting a new idea of ergonomics and comfort for the spaces of the new ways of working.

1. Anthropologic Design.
Referring to design, the adjective “anthropologic” can be used with different meanings. Fist the different relationship between the company and the workers, we have discussed in the article From a controlling father-like to a mother-like model of the company”. Then a working environment that is designed to answer to the need of the men living in, in a new connection between people and the office space. Finally it wants to stress the cultural meaning and context of the design, an instrument that reflects the mentality of the society and of the company.

2. Mental ergonomics.
Ergonomics is not just a correct position of the body, it is also a correct position of the mind, it is a productive and fertile state of mind, that goes far beyond the quality of the seat or the use of the adjustable height desks. The main feature of the smart working is a personal sensation of wellbeing: therefore ergonomics is also working, laying in a  park, in a concept that take the working environment outside the border of the office building.

3. A new humanism.
This state of mind means giving a new status to the working activity, in an idea of a proactive, reasoning and satisfy person. The “worker as a human being” is the key concept of the new ways of working, following the paradigm happiness = more productivity and stronger ties between the employee and the company and its values.

4. Ergonomics of the soul.
Though it is similar to the previous two, this concept goes deeper. Ergonomics of the soul means to go beyond the idea of ergonomics as a mere scienze, made of charts and scientific studies, but to see it as an attitude of modelling the need of the company on the the need of the worker, a work-life balance capable of creating the less interference as possible between private and working life.

5. Flexibility of the workspace.
The workspace must be able to answer to all the need that a worker have to deal with during a working day. Flexibility, therefore, it is not just about furniture or design of the space, but about all the elements of the working environment, even the vertical partition (the most static one). The movable walls are part of a space designed for the smart working, a smart wall that that helps to enhance acoustic quality and the possibility of re-arrangement of the settings, and at the same time, it can be used as a interactive instrument or a screen.

6. Human to Human.
From B2B to H2H: when technology seems to get us apart from the working environment, the company and the worker can be linked in another way. Recalling a common expression as “Business to Business”, we can define the nowadays HR management and the workspace design as Human to Human.

7. The enemy is the distraction.
A special attention must be paid on the concept of concentration and how to avoid the lack of it, immediately at the first stage of the project, imaging specific paths and focusing on the acoustics. This is one of the main concerns of the new open space, a factor that has a strong influence over the wellbeing and the productivity of the employees. Absorption and soundproof materials: from more performing headphones, to textile floors, to the attention paid to the material and the disposition of the walls, to the use of soundproof panels. The possibility of find the right concentration is a very important issue for the new dynamic workspace.

8. Ergonomics of the Sight.
Beauty, home-feeling, comfortable: these words have now become part of the common language of the office design. The working environment must be a place where the worker likes to spend his day, not anymore a strict, severe, colourless space.

9. Fertility
Employees’ wellness means productivity. An increment that is not just about incomes and profit, but also about more creativity, innovation, new ideas, and better ways to find new solutions to problems the company have to deal with. The office become a fertile and fruitful space, making the company and the individual grow together.

10. Technological collision.
Technology is it not an optional element, but a fundamental feature that has to be take into consideration when an office is projected. It is not something you add to the space, but something that has to be thought with the space, in order to enhance his benefits and qualities. The internet of thing, also, increase the potentiality and the flexibility of the furniture, turning them into interactive and multifunctional objects.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Ringraziamo tutti i partecipanti alla Jelly Session che hanno dato il proprio contributo per la stesura di questo Decalogo, tra i quali:

Daniele Andriolo (Plantronics)
Matteo Artusi (TotalTool)
Antonino Borgese (GPTW)
Renzo Caimi ( Caimi Brevetti)
Lella Castelli (Sedus)
Giulio Ceppi (TotalTool)
Cristiana Cutrona (Revalue)
Paolo Davoglio (Facility &Welfare manager)
Michele Dell’Orto (Linak)
Rossella Destefani (Deamicis Architetti)
Gianluca Geroli (SgS Architetti Associati)
Antonella Mantica (Progetto CMR)
Luca Pasqualotto (Copernico)
Marco Predari (Assufficio)
Federico Rivera (Digital Entity)
Renata Sias (WOW! Webmagazine)
Andrè Straja (GaS Studio)
Marco Vigo (DC10)
Silvano Zanuso (Technogym)
Antonio Zulianello (NEC)

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Smart Working and the City: #LavoroAgile16.

What impact has the agile working on the real estate and on the city? We discussed about it in the WOW! Agile Working Island 2016, comparing the experience of the public administration and of investors and private companies. As the Milan Model of UniCredit and the initiatives organised by the Municipality of Milan, as the Agile Working Day, show, smart working brings some changes that go far beyond the office space, designing new urban spaces and new professional figures.

Opening the WOW! Agile Working Island’s Jelly Session “Agile working: what is the impact on the real estate and on the city?”, Chiara Bisconti, councillor for Municipality of Milan for Wellbeing, sport and leisure, human resources and environment, underlined that smart working can be a model for the public administration.
Taking into consideration what has been experienced in the the private companies, Milan’s public administration developed new solutions in the third Agile Working Day, creating new spaces and wi-fi areas throughout the city, allowing people to work everywhere, and giving the chance to the employees of the Municipality to choose one of the public administration’s office to work in, by the simple use of an app.

The public administration, however, is not the only factor leading the change of the urban environment: also private companies, through the introduction of the smart working, create new needs with a strong impact over the surrounding space.
The first factor is the new way of thinking the working environment as Anna Maria Ricco, Head of real estate Italy di UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions, explained The so called Milan Model is an experiment of management lead by UniCredit and based on the desk sharing and on the differentiation of the work setting.
This means less workstation than the workers’ number, encouraging mobility, an organisation of the space based on the workers’s need, with private spaces for calls,  video-class, concentration or formal meetings that comes along with the open space model, organised with a “clean desk policy” for the privacy compliance.
In order to encourage the agile working, UniCredit also created a system of “neighbourhood offices”, called UniCredit Hub, with several workstation that can be book on a web platform.
Finally the new ways of working require different kind of working environment and less work spaces: so what is the destiny of the exceeding spaces? Is it still convenient to invest in the office real estate? What is the evolution of this field? These questions need to be further examined, as Barbara Polito, president of AREL (Real Estate Ladies Association), said.
Most of all, as we have seen the growing success of the co-working space model, there is the need of a new professional figure capable to connect the facility manager to the user: a manager with new competences and able to design a multifunctional space with different services and functions in order to value the space and make it profitable, without the fix income of a company rent, but with a day prize paid by smart workers.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures 1-4 and in evidence from Chiara Bisconti’ PPT presentation (c)Comune di Milano.

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Adjustable height desks require a new office design.

Adjustable height desks are becoming more and more popular and soon they are gonna be the new standard in the office. The Gensler’s interior designer Amie Keener has defined them a new challenge for the workplace design that has to rethink the space in order to include these agile, dynimc and “well-being oriented” workstations in the best way.

“Sitting-standing” desks, as any other innovation in the beginning, offer indisputable benefits, has we already talked about, but they also need some change to give their best.
The downsides, has we are going to see, are not about the object itself, but problems that can be easily solved with a different office design, capable to give an answer and integrate all the new working environment’s trends like flexibility, smart, activity based, hybrid, sharing.
Amie Keener, on the magazine GenslerOn, has counterposed the ergonomic, physical and psychological benefits of the dynamic posture (that supports a flexible use of the workstations and helps to prevent health problems) with some downsides, she has personally experienced in her everyday’s office life, mostly linked to wires and power sources, noise and eyesight.

First of all, Amie Keener had to deal with length of wires problems and the need of having the power sources in the proximity of the desk. This, of course, has a strong impact on the position of the desk in the space: motorized adjustable desks and mobile devices, as laptop, needs power to work properly. So, as the designer said, it is useful “to consider a neat wire management spine or enclose to hide wires and cords”.
An interesting issue is the relationship between adjustable height desks and acoustic comfort. In fact the acoustic design of the space need to be changed, because an higher position requires different solutions to avoid the voices and the noises of the office to disturb.
Dealing with a new position of the subject in the space, it is necessary to rethink the partitions and the dispositions of the workstation and of the sound absorption elements.
The last problem Amie Keener has pointed out is the terrible eyesight given by a messy high desks, striking more at a glance due to the fact that it is closer to eye level than a standard desk height.
“Even the most elegant workspaces can quickly come resemble barely organised pig sites”, she writes.
That’s why adjustable height desks require an higher level of responsibility from the workers, something, however, that is  already required by the new ways of working, that are based on the concept of space and object’s sharing.
As also Keener has to admit, adjustable height desks are growing more and more popular in the office, and they are becoming the standard that the office design and the management need to consider in order to create spaces where they can be perfectly integrated.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Temporary offices for the Business Nomads (Abrahams Crielaers).

Inspired by the work of the photographer Jimmy Nelson, the Dutch designer Abrahams Crielaers had an idea: nowadays business nomads are really a new kind of tribe. A Tribe that needs a network of temporary offices with a “tribal atmosphere” given by colours, materials and furniture. These features are all present in the first multifunctional space inaugurated in Eindhoven.

The peculiarity of the Tribes network of “mobile offices”, as Abrahams Crielaers has defined them, is the idea behind the project: workers nowadays are becoming more and more nomads, searching for common spaces providing all kind of services from internet access, to flexible work areas suited to all requirements, virtual offices and meeting rooms.
The location of the first temporary office is symbolic: the Eindhoven Flight Forum, located next to the airport, a “ritual space” for business nomads.
The Tribe office in Eindhoven is a flexible open space designed to recreate different situations, from several private corners with work terminals to long desk and wide tables, like the round Tribes Table, where it’s easy to organise an informal meeting.

Inspired by the work of the photographer Jimmy Nelson and his idea of Business Nomads as a new modern tribe, the interior design is characterised by bright colors, coconut, leather, wood, creating a harmoniously comfortable environment.
A sensation enhanced by the floor in porcelain tiles of the Fossil collection designed by Kasia Zareba for DesignTaleStudio, the creative ceramic laboratory of the Italian company Ceramiche Refin.
A collection that revisits the prehistorical imprints left by plants and animals in rock formations in a pattern that gives the impressions of primordial creatures on the surface of the stone.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Rika Looij.

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