Category: Small Medium Business
Project: Studio Twist Office
Country of Design: China
The challenge here was how to break through conventional office layout to design a creative and free-spirited space that inspires design thinking, collaboration and co-working. Another consideration was how to best organise the necessary spaces efficiently and with flexibility within a 100-square-metre space.
The spaces had to accommodation the following functions: individual computer work, sketching, small group discussions, display of architectural models, layout of material samples, making physical models and reading A3-sized design reports as well as reading A0-sized drawings, alongside a library, a meeting room, an accounts room, material storage, pantry and washrooms.
Also in question was how could we design the space to ensure everyone in the office enjoyed the city skyline views, while at the same time ensuring everyone had individual privacy for focused work and localised conversations.
We designed this space for our own use. Everyone was involved in the process, which involved everything from pitching initial ideas to conversations about who sits where and debates about aesthetic expression. After planning activity areas and spatial relationships between team members, we formulated a circulatory plan around workspaces that gently guides behaviour for the delivery courier, the supplier guest, the client visitor and our designer.
We also considered every detail, right down to the smallest storage function required by each workstation, for example a drawer box or a file niche. This helped us devise a modular assembly of parts that results in a uniquely diversified “office furniture cityscape”.
We expressed our identity through the architectural language of our office furniture cityscape, which is both abstract and functional at the same time. It is composed of modular components of drawers, file niches, plant trays, computer boxes and horizontal planes, all built out of plywood with cherry veneer expressing a linear grain. The components are configurable in a few different ways; as a result, the office is stimulating and non-repetitive.
We incorporated plants and greenery opportunistically within the assembly; team members can move these around as the seasons change. We also experimented with fragrant plants that influence and change our space and mood. Everyone participates in caring for the growing plants, in order to foster a sense of ownership and environmental responsibility.
Everyone inhabits their abstract space with their own things. This begets an active appropriation of space that increases staff engagement with the three-dimensional boundaries of individual space and group space, which are hinted at rather than overt. Stacked boxes and plants around each workstation frame the seated views, creating privacy for individual focus work. That feeling of being partially enclosed, shaped by vertical stacked components, is underlined by adjoining horizontal planes that group team members together.
Smaller group discussions can take place around the corner table formed by a drawer component. Other platforms of different heights can be used for display, while larger flat surfaces are designed to be versatile: these can be used for drawings or material sample reviews. The library bookshelf extends this architectural aesthetic as a jigsaw of load-bearing “wall” planks and “floor” planks.
We are now immersed in our own sculptural “cityscape”, where we work 1:1 but can imaginatively appreciate the dynamism of 1:10 or 1:100 space. Our own belongings also surround us, as do our work, our co-workers and our plants that grow across boundaries. The plants give us a sense of nature and green air while we look out at the often-smoggy Shanghai city views.
We feel part of a special design team, physically reminded by our own office space that conventions can be called into question in order to discover new, inspiring and meaningful answers about how we can live, work and play.