Here’s an office layout to consider: the working showroom

Helsinki – Earlier this year, we celebrated Sevil Peach’s career with the Lifetime Achievement accolade at our 2018 St-W Awards. Few designers have weighed the importance of emotional wellbeing in the creation of work spaces as the London-based interior architect has. So, given that precedent, the concept behind the new  headquarters in Helsinki came as no surprise.

The main goal of the new office for the furniture company, located inside a 19th-century building, is to foster face-to-face encounters amidst an increasingly digital age. ‘What’s most fascinating in every project is people’s behaviour,’ she explained. ‘It’s not merely a question of the space I create; equally important is how people behave in these spaces.’ Bringing people together, her team figured, helps build a corporate culture and could improve teamwork. In order to merge those two tenets, particularly the cultural aspect, Peach went for a hybrid proposal: the working showroom.

In line with the brand’s own product design approach, the space is functional yet pleasantly informal, as it puts human needs first. Employees are allowed to use the entire environment freely: either working form a sofa or standing up; settling down alone in a focused-activity space or gathering with a group around a meeting table. ‘It is the right balance of collaborative spaces and zones of retreat and concentration that ultimately enhances productivity,’ Peach stated.

Here’s one of the most radical decisions: the entire 470-sq-m office has but a single rubbish bin

To present a space conducive to such freedom of use, the interior design team took some radical measures: all doors were removed, with the exception of meeting rooms and bathrooms; they also turned the central area into a marketplace, with an open kitchen that effectively serves as the social hub of the office. And here’s what might be the most radical decision: the entire office, all 470 sq-m of it, has but a single rubbish bin. The idea behind this is that walking to dispose of items keeps the body active and refreshed, but the longer the path, the more opportunities for interaction it provides.

The other cardinal arrangement was to open what is usually a confidential environment to the outside. This new office space, featuring bestselling and constantly updated products from Artek’s furniture and lighting collections, is a place where architects and interior designers can visit and even hold a meeting. The reasoning, sales manager Ejvind Elvilä explained, is that ‘clients can get a practical feel of the furniture before buying.’ Something tells us that, given the cultural nudges resulting from Peach’s approach, they might also bring to their offices and client spaces much more than lighting and furniture.

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