Beauty awakens inspiration. Some employers have understood this and don’t hesitate to rely on the layout of their offices to promote well-being, inspiration, and creativity. In the era of happiness at work and fulfillment, the layout, design, and originality of workspaces take on their full meaning. Let’s turn the spotlight on some workplaces that are specially designed to stimulate creativity.
Spanish culture puts happiness at the heart of life, and well-being at work is no exception. In second place among the countries that strike the best balance between work and personal life, Spain stands out in particular for its quality of life and the importance placed on pleasure. Working in the peace and quiet of nature is ideal for many, and Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano have brought this idea to life by setting up their offices in a forest near the city of Madrid. Their goal was to offer a work environment where it’s possible to dream and create. With its panoramic view of the changing face of nature, the office breathes. Erected under the trees, it allows for the contemplation of sunlight, raindrops, and falling leaves. The glazed north side of the building gives the impression of moving under the treetops and bathes the space in natural light, while the south side, built with fibreglass and polyester, provides shade. The recipients of several awards and acknowledgements, the SelgasCano offices never fail to impress!
Bahnhof (Pionen White Mountains)
Known as the most innovative country in Europe, Sweden remains a staple in terms of discovery. The internet services company Bahnhof takes part in this innovation with its Pionen White Mountains project, located 30 metres beneath the granite rocks of Vita Bergen park in the heart of Stockholm. A former nuclear fallout shelter has been converted into fascinating and eccentric offices with the help of the Albert France-Lanord architectural firm, which drew its visual inspiration from the science fiction of the 1970s and the James Bond films. The former bomb shelter built in 1943 now houses 15 full-time employees. The space is designed to create a feeling of immersion thanks to the use of light, plants, water, and technology. The eccentricity was taken even further with the indoor installation of landscaping elements consisting of plants, shrubs, and waterfalls with a reservoir of over 2,000 litres of salt water that is home to various aquatic animals. This project is focused on human values and the desire to create a welcoming space where it feels good to live and work.
In perpetual cultural and artistic transformation, the avant-garde German capital is full of companies where a modern spirit and futurism coexist. So, it’s not surprising that SoundCloud, an audio file distribution platform, chose to set up its headquarters in this city that vibrates to the rhythm of the arts and music! In 2014, it opened magnificent offices there that overlook the Berlin Wall Memorial, designed by the German architectural firm Kinzo. The place is spacious and modern, combining concrete, for an urban, industrial atmosphere, with aged wood. Several relaxation areas contribute to the employee experience, such as the library, a yoga room, an indoor garden, and an area with a wood-burning fireplace, which was designed to be a technology-free space that fosters discussions. Conscious of current issues, the designers chose environmentally friendly materials, such as cushions made from sustainable hemp and coconut fibres and ecological insulation materials. A company in the music industry, SoundCloud has made sound the key element of its work environment, with high-end audiovisual equipment and a cutting-edge recording studio. Combining fun at work, experience, and a corporate culture that stays true to its musical roots, SoundCloud is an unbeatable model of innovation.
Is happiness that goes beyond profits a new value in corporate culture? In France, concern for the search for meaning and the importance of self-fulfillment at work has been predominant in recent years. Inspired by new management and fashionable methods, Flexmind is an example of a better quality of life at work. Flexible, friendly offices: this is the goal that the Inspirit agency had in mind when designing the Flexmind project. The idea was to create a universe that reflects the brand’s DNA and that would nurture the feeling of belonging and commitment among the employees. Opened in 2011, Flexmind offers consulting services in the transformation of information systems and advocates flexibility, agility, and versatility in its activities. Its offices on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris reflect its core identity with flexible work areas that give each person the option to choose their working position. Varied seat heights, a friendly kitchen, a relaxation area, a lunch table that turns into a ping-pong table, and a flexible hybrid space for solo or group work or meetings form the framework of this unique workplace.
San Francisco, USA
With its dynamic economic growth and its reputation in international trade, San Francisco, the city of a thousand and one ambitions, is decidedly the symbol of independence and success. Embodying the American dream, it has experienced a wave of job creation, and the major firms of the world don’t hesitate to set up shop there. The professional social network LinkedIn therefore chose to set up its offices there in a skyscraper in the SoMa neighbourhood. The project, undertaken by engineer Tony Chung, stands out with its unifying and innovative—even eccentric—facilities. At the entrance to the second floor, the expression Focus on what matters is projected onto the walls, motivating the employees upon their arrival. The building is harmoniously arranged and contains many warm gathering places: an entrance hall covered with wood, a dining room and kitchen with a sleek design, and—above all—experience stations where employees can hang out and connect with their peers. These include the silent nightclub where employees can listen to the same song in their headphones and dance together without disturbing the rest of the office, a world map on which they are invited to indicate where they have travelled and where they were born, a giant backgammon board, and—of course—a rooftop terrace to enjoy the California sun!