When Google set up its headquarters in London in the late 1990s, the office was designed like a playground with climbing walls, ping pong tables and hammocks. Managers meet guests or hold video conferences in campers or beach huts. Other companies at the time also followed suit: a beverage company called “Naive” laid imitation turf on the office floor and hung colorful flags on the walls; “Red Bull” installed skateboard ramps and swings in the office. These companies take it for granted that working in an office with “special” facilities like this makes employees happier, more excited, and more creative.
However, Google’s London headquarters in King’s Cross, London, like its headquarters in Berlin and India, has now been renovated. After visiting the London headquarters, I feel that Google has matured. In the office area of the London headquarters, there are geometric shapes, creamy white and red carpets, extra-large floor lamps, and pale rose red double-sided sofas. And its leisure area is divided into different areas by several hollow metal curtains, which are respectively placed with rocking chairs, backrest armchairs, and lazy sofas. Such an environment does not feel like being in a company, but rather like being in an elegant library, luxurious private club or stylish living room. It embodies the new fashion of today’s office design: rich in family life and adaptability.
Recall that the company’s previous special office design solutions have solved some problems, but they have also brought new problems. Carey Davis, designer of the Bentwood School of Architectural Design and designer of Google’s new office in London, said: “A space that is designed to be too complex will become useless.” Such an office design fails. .
First of all, employees complain that such an office is too noisy and the light is too dark, making it uncomfortable to work in such an office. Davis said: “People just want to work well.” And the facts have proved that the previous so-called “themed” office design is not conducive to people’s work. Second, the previous office design has poor adaptability. Like many high-tech companies, Google has developed rapidly. In 2012-2016 alone, the number of employees has grown to nearly 20,000. As the new project runs, its team will rapidly expand. Think about it, you can’t let so many people crowd into beach huts to work.
However, the new generation office has solved the inherent problem of poor adaptability. It can be expanded or contracted according to the personnel situation. Bentwood School of Architecture and Design designed a prefabricated meeting room named “Jack” for Google’s London headquarters. This kind of conference room is made of spruce splint and can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours. Google has already installed such meeting rooms in its headquarters in London and California, and will also be installed in its headquarters in Berlin and India.
A series of modular furniture designed by Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gabia and launched at the Contemporary International Furniture Fair also reflects the same design ideas as the Google meeting room. “Every six months, the company’s scale will expand,” Joe Gabia said, “We need office equipment that can adapt to the rapid changes in the size of our company.” Therefore, the chairs, tables and sofas he designed can be disassembled And re-assembly, and the felt surface of these office equipment can absorb sound to reduce the noise in the office.
Simon Jordan, the co-founder of Leap Studio, which focuses on architectural design, said: “Everything is changing now, and the only constant is the state of constant change.” His words are correct for high-tech companies, but they are not the same. At the same time, more and more non-high-tech companies have adopted the same office design concept. Simon Jordan once designed a new office for the Rafah company, which specializes in the production of luxury bicycle clothing. He saw that the company encourages employees to assemble their own work teams to develop new work strategies and new products.
Therefore, he designed a series of office equipment composed of metal cages. These metal cages can be placed under shelves, writing desks, plug-in boards and hanging rails, can be moved around, and can be adapted to the sales department and the design department. Any department’s work needs, and wheels are also installed under the table. Currently, he is working with an international law firm called Allen and Offry to create a series of workplaces called “fusion” to promote the firm’s internal employees and the firm’s relationship with another legal technology startup Cooperation between employees.
As offices become more flexible, they become more like homes or hotels. The health needs of employees and technological advancement have spawned and made this trendy office popular. Cloud computing and communication tools like Shrek mean that employees can work effectively anywhere, which allows companies to think about office design more freely. In addition, while companies are seeking changes to adapt to new ways of working, they also pay more attention to the health of their employees.
Matthew Koebler, director of interior and workplace strategy at Arnie Fanta Kate Sarridis, said: “We are gradually realizing that people spend more time in the office than they stay at home. How to make work more conducive to people’s health? Successfully solving this problem will greatly improve the work efficiency of employees.” In 2015, researchers at Harvard University found that under natural light conditions, smooth air circulation, People working in low-toxic and environmentally-friendly offices are better able to deal with crises, think strategically, and process information than people working in traditional offices.
Designers use some means to make the workplace more conducive to people’s health. First, they make the office as comfortable as home. Google’s new headquarters in Deloitte, Toronto, Canada has several side rooms with sofas and armchairs, and various artworks hung on the walls in an orderly manner. Designers have added home-style design elements, such as flower stands, vintage leather boxes, etc., in the offices designed for companies such as Nike, Xisco and O+A studios in San Francisco, as well as natural materials such as bare wood. decorations.
Potted plants in the “Second Home” studio in Lisbon.
Uniquely designed stairs inside Google’s London headquarters
Then, the designer made the office functions more diversified. In the new headquarters building of Deloitte, Koble has created 18 different workplaces, including soundproof quiet rooms and group seminar rooms, distributed in various spaces of the building. Kobler said: “This design allows people to do different jobs in the right mood, which is beneficial to people’s mental health.” Simon Jordan even designed a music room in which people can play drums to relax their emotions and reduce work pressure. .
At the same time, the designers strive to integrate nature and office space to show their love for life. The best embodiment of this design concept is the Spanish studio named “Second Home” designed by Sergas Carlo in Lisbon. Because no two things in nature are exactly the same, every chair and every lamp in the “second home” is also designed to be different. In addition, 1,000 pots of bonsai were placed inside. Primo Opila of O+A Studio said: “These green plants are with us 365 days a year. For an office worker like me who stares at the computer screen all day, this environment makes us tired. At that time, temporarily look away from the computer screen and admire the bonsai for a short break. At the same time, we can talk, drink tea, and dine together in such an office.”