We are now officially suffering from office envy and the object of our feelings is located in Poland, in a former cable factory in Zabłocie, a post-industrial district in Kraków. It was designed for the web technology consulting firm u2i by architect and urban planner Justyna Friedberg of Kraków-based Morpho Studio.
The obvious breathing room – so often lacking in offices – is clearly evident here. White, ash wood, natural light. Somehow we can imagine thoughts flying freer in a space like this, with this much openness and light.
The real gem of the 800 square-meter (8,611 sq.ft.) office, and the part we covet the most, is the central indoor porch, or chill zone, with its swing and potted plants. A simple, fresh idea, beautifully executed.
We suspect that herbs and favourite flowers will be grown here by the team, and that it will turn out to be not just a passive space with the surroundings fitted and provided by someone else, but that it actually will live as a real porch or garden where people can putter around and exercise their green thumbs. Or just chill in the swing.
With this open porch, the basic, large, rectangular space has become more of an environment and less of a set of offices. And what we like most is that the porch does not have the omnipresent sad pool tables or soft-drink dispensers that still seem to denote “cool office” to some. - Tuija Seipell.
Flamingo Shanghai’s swanky new office, The Attic, is a grand example of how the intelligent use of scale and natural light, and the minimalist approach to materials can create cohesive unity that looks both fresh and imbued with patina.
Shanghai-based Neri&Hu effected their special brand of design philosophy on this cavernous industrial 620 square-meter (6673 sq.ft.) attic, and created a dark-hued and angular open-concept office for the creative agency. The attic includes offices, conference space, exhibit space, observation areas, quiet room and kitchen.
The hard materials and cold surfaces project efficiency and focus. We assume that the natural light through the large skylight windows, together with the presence of people, will balance those aspects with softness and creative life energy.
Husband-and-wife duo, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu established their own design and architecture practice Neri&Hu in Shanghai in 2004 after having moved to China two years earlier to work with Michael Graves. The Philippines-born Neri (b. 1965) has architecture degrees from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. Taiwan-born Hu (b. 1968) was trained at Princeton. - Tuija Seipell.
We have yet to experience anything even closely equal to our incredible six days at Castello di Reschio in Umbria.
So it should not have come as a surprise to us that their office building would turn out to be stunning as well.
But it just feels somehow unfair that some people really do get to call this restored 1940s tobacco processing factory as their everyday office.
Late last summer, Count Benedikt Bolza, the talented managing director and chief architect of the Castello di Reschio estate, and his team finished the restoration of the estate’s tobacco factory building so that the estate offices, design studio, workshops and exhibitions could move in.
Heritage and history are exquisitely balanced with contemporary style and cool elegance, yet the space does not feel pretentious or contrived. It feels completely natural; there is a sense of ease, as if it had always been like this.
Part of the reason for this is that Bolza left several key elements of the industrial building intact. For example, the stairs that lead to the offices where 13 team members now work are exactly as they were when more than 50 factory workers sorted tobacco here on long wooden tables – many of which are now in the estate’s private restaurant, Osteria.
Reclaimed and repurposed steel, wood, stone and other elements are prominent throughout the estate and in the Tabaccaia as well. Our favourites are the large floor lamps made of reclaimed heaters Bolza found at the Tabaccaia, and topped with perforated stainless steel sheet shades. Another favourite are the large sculptural rings hanging from the ceiling. They are repurposed wine barrel rings from the castle’s wine cellars.
Bolza says that although sound proofing was initially a concern in this hard-surfaced space, it has actually been a blessing in disguise. Repurposed wide wooden planks help muffle sound throughout the open space but no additional sound-proofing was needed “because the magic is that everybody talks at low level creating a sort of spiritual working environment. It is quite amazing and all are in such good working mode because of it,” he says.
And while it may seem that the team is roughing it in this rustic environment, under-floor heating and LED lighting throughout bring the comfort level well beyond that of most ordinary offices. - Tuija Seipell.
Walls don’t often strike us as exciting, but in this office project for ON Headquarters, located west of Mexico City, we really do like the large surfaces. We also like the subtle, elegant lighting, and the subdued colour scheme.
ON provides services to the oil and gas industry, so the designers at LSA Arquitectos and BLANCASMORAN (Imanol Legorreta Molina, Pablo Sepúlveda de Yturbe and Abel Blancas Morán) selected surface materials and textures that reflect the passing of time.
The boardroom exterior walls and the directors offices are covered in walnut veneer, the lobby walls and the customized assistants’ blocks in the concourse are of Iranian Travertine marble, and the interior walls of the boardroom are of wool fabric.
The floors in the lobby and concourse are covered with metal sheeting, and in the directors’ offices with oak
Much of the furniture is custom-made, including the welcome desk that is made of metal sheeting and black Emperador marble. The chairs are desks are by VITRA and the lighting by Construlita, Delta Light and Tom Dixon.
The overall effect the designers have accomlished in this 780 square-meter (8,395 sq.ft) space is calm, opulent and restrained. - Tuija Seipell. (Images by Rafael Gamo)
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Our fascination with cool offices continues. This time, we are attracted to a Victorian building in Dublin.
This past June, after only six months of elaborate reconstruction and renovation, global insurance firm XL Group plc moved into one of the most prestigious addresses in Dublin, Ireland.
The former private club building at Number 8 St. Stephen’s Green is a protected structure, which made the job of RKD Architects that much more challenging.
RKD’s not-so-easy task was to respect the original building and its later reiterations, while making sure XL Group’s staff and management had all the tools and comforts of a modern office.
The building dates back to 1792 when it was constructed as an imposing, five-bay, four-storeys- over-basement residence for Lord Mountgarrat. From 1847 to 2003, it was owned by the Hibernian United Services Club and operated as a private club.
After the 6.5 million Euro (about $8.2 mil. US) renovation, the grand scale, elegance and drama of a private gentlemen’s club are still intact, and the unseemly practicalities of air conditioning, IT and plumbing are discreetly and stylishly hidden behind cabinetry and other structures.
Reinforcing and restoring the best parts of the building has left, for example, the grand Portland-stone staircase as the central eye-catcher at the entrance, and given the staff and clients an impressive environment that demands attention.
We love the ceilings, the exposed brick, and the mirrors and subtle insertions of colour in the modern offices.
In even the most updated of the spaces, there is some aspect that reminds of the past and shows off the peculiarities of the grand, old building. - Tuija Seipell.
If only we had a spare historic Barchessa in Italy and an extra million lying about, we, too, would build an office and showroom, just like fashion house Rubens Luciano’s in Villa Gritti, Stra, near Venice.
We’ve covered many a gorgeous office over the years in our quest for the world’s coolest offices, and although many of them a grand in scale and lavish in budget, each one has ideas just waiting for any of us to emulate in our own, perhaps more modest, surroundings.
In the case of the Rubens Luciano office architect Simone Micheli mastered several copy-worthy feats: The use of natural light and glass to create the feeling of openness; the combination of old and new in a way that is not pretentious; and the exquisite attention to detail.
Several of Micheli’s other hallmarks are also visible in this project: smooth, flowing lines; shiny, seamless surfaces; rounded edges; and organic-looking, bulbous shapes. We also love the meticulous detailing and the minimalist, clean overall look.
The four-year-long renovation collaboration between Simone Micheli and his friends, fashion-house founders Rubens and Luciano, was unveiled at a great party on September 1, a date that also marked the 49th birthday of the architect. - Tuija Seipell.
If we at TCH were to establish a new office, this is what it could look like. A clean, minimalist space, with a touch of history and elegance.
The 150 square meter office is located in Kortrijk, Belgium, in a historically important, restored textile weaving factory from the early part of 1900.
Vincent Van Duysen Architects handled not only the restoration of the space but also the interior design, and the design of much of the furniture.
The office consists of a large main space and smaller offices for the four staff members. Most interesting about this elegant project is the fact that the office is not for a design studio or architectural firm, but for Belgo-Seeds, a business involved in global importing and exporting of agricultural products, especially seeds. A shelving unit with beautifully lit glass containers of seeds is the only direct reference to this.
The brick ceiling and cast-iron columns are restored nods to the industrial past of the building, while the dark timber wall paneling, light oak floors and soft hues of fabrics and furnishings add a comfortable feel.
Most of the furniture was custom-designed by Vincent Van Duysen including the desks, all storage units and the pendant lighting. The office chair used in this project is the brown leather version Van Duysen’s design for Bulo. The coffee table is a custom version of Van Duysen’s Surface for B&B Italia:.
We love the lack of visual noise; the spaciousness, openness and sophistication achieved with the intelligent use of glass, screens and lighting. - Tuija Seipell
We like this 130 square meter (1,400 sq.ft.) office for its crisp simplicity.
It is a expansion project by Alain Wong of Comodo for his company’s own office space located in Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Wong calls the project Landscape in Bustling City, a fitting name for an office located in the middle of the busy city in an area that used to be lush gardens.
Comodo’s earlier office was predominantly black and white, as is the new one, except for the natural wood used to create platforms, partitions and furnishings.
The extensive use of unfinished raw wood board creates a nice balance of function and whimsy, and brings a sense of the outdoors inside. Natural light streams into much of the space through glass partitions. - Tuija Seipell.
The offices are located on Stockholm’s luxury power-shopping boulevard, Birger Jarlsgatan, in the two loft floors of building number 9 where the street-level occupants include Agent Provocateur.
Medge is a consultancy in sports rights management, TV distribution and media operations, so it is appropriate that their 180 square-meter (1937.5 sq.ft.) digs are testosterone-induced. Dark half-paneling with its English Gentlemen’s Club vibe gives a nod to the company’s other office in London and draws the line between traditional (below) and modern (above).
A hideously ugly reddish upholstered couch/sofa in a corner seating area, and the heavy iron bars and wood beams in the ceiling give off a sense of a confidence and strength. We love the use of white paint in the uppermost areas as it contrasts powerfully with the black, and opens up the space to the skylights. Tuija Seipell.
It’s the ceiling. Definitely the ceiling. And the wood, of course. We just cannot take our eyes off of cool wood features, so, naturally this studio in Melbourne drew our attention.
It is for Assemble an architecture, design and property development company focused on small footprint projects. Joachim Holland, one of the three key players at Assemble, is also the design principal at Jackson Clements Burrows whose work with the Trojan House we wrote about some time ago.
True to their hands-on spirit, the Assemble team participated in the actual building of the studio and, with professional help, put together its pine batten-and-stud latticework ceiling that was loosely modeled after origami.
In addition to looking lovely, the ceiling is highly functional. It conceals a network of pipes, ducts, tubes, fire alarms, smoke detectors and air-conditioning units, and also improves the acoustics in the space otherwise dominated by exposed concrete and glass.
The ceiling is constructed from five triangles repeated five times across the length of the ceiling. We like how the ceiling’s sense of light weight and openness livens up an otherwise fairly standard, boxy space. - Tuija Seipell.