Not all design inspiration comes from private homes and apartments. Public spaces, which are often created by top architects and designers, offer a wealth of stylish décor and design ideas for your own home. HomeDSGN brings you an array of hotels, office buildings and other public environments that feature stunning interior design elements, alluring ambiance and innovative lighting. With a little imagination, these elements can be incorporated into any home interior design.
Stunningly modular Stray Bird Boutique Hotel created by STUDIO QI for a relaxing but cutting edge oasis experience
By Courtney • Jul 15, 2019
In the stunning rural greenery of Ningxia, China, innovative designers at STUDIO QI have recently completed and opened a stunningly conceptual and beautifully laid out escape called the Stray Bird Boutique Hotel.
This wonderfully modern boutique hotel sits in a sort of countryside oasis that is nestled right between the Yellow River and the Tengger Desert. This unique spot lies in the heart of China’s Ningxia Autonomous Region; a rare spot of greenery and flowing waters before the sand and sun take over the landscape.
The site of the hotel itself is an actual blossom orchard, which runs all along the horizon where the scenery changes and the desert beings to stretch in the distance. Since the location of the plot is so unique already, designers opted to follow suit and create an equally unconventional staying experience that somehow also still suits and jives with its green surroundings.
The main goal of the design team became to challenge the typical architecture in the remote, sparsely populated area in order to create something incredibly airy and open feeling. They took great inspiration from ideas of transparency, letting a contemporary sense of minimalism provide breathtaking views that allow one to feel like their newly sought out private space is one with the surrounding landscape.
The hotel is made up of several separate volumes dotted closely enough to one another to avoid feeling isolated or cut off, but far enough from one another so as to feel private despite their openness. Each small respite space is made from a pre-fabricated frame that was brought in and erected on site in order to interrupt the topography as little as possible and preserve it.
Despite the simple, pre-fab frame of each little building, the interiors of the units are nothing short of sophisticated. The details and finishes are sleek and modern looking, equipped with full amenities, but also subdued enough to allow one’s concentration to lie fully with the beauty of what lies outside.
Part of what makes the outdoor areas so easy to appreciate and connect with from within each of these lovely little escapes is the Low-E glass curtain wall technology that is installed in three sides of each. This lets the walls fold back entirely as though they have been opened by curtains, creating a stunning blending of interior and outdoor spaces, as though fresh air is limitless.
Within each serene unit, the interior spaces are quite open concept in terms of their physicality. In terms of their function, however, they are organized according to three different actions: sitting, standing, and sleeping. Since the whole focus of the hotel is relaxation and seeking peace, the actions of sitting and sleeping are regarded as being the most important, so these are the actions that are most catered to within each unit.
In order to facilitate maximum relaxation, designers placed spaces for sitting and sleeping in each of the four corners of the units, nearest the large windows and retracting walls for maximum sunlight, fresh air, and access to nature. Other functions of the space, or the parts that require standing and things other than relaxation, are compartmentalized to the centre of the room, facilitating easy flow of space and energy.
This is quite opposite to how most retreats and hotels are built. Normally, the most private spaces, like the sleeping quarters, are removed from view and kept on the most private side. Here, designers have moved the resting areas to the edges on purpose, giving them clear paths to the outdoors, and prioritizing visual and open air connections to nature.
The units are not, of course, completely devoid of privacy. On their back walls, where they face each other most directly and would therefore lend the most view to others staying at the boutique hotel, each one features a playful looking perforated wall. This allows semi-privacy in that onlookers cannot see into the unit, but guests are still afforded the natural play of light and shadow as the sun moves across the property.
Across these perforated back walls, designers created beautifully painted themes in subdued colours that look like shadows and light play in and of themselves. Each unit features a different theme, ranging from pear trees to the birds the hotel is named after. The images create a sort of nature inspired backdrop to the peace being sought inside.
Photos by Qingshan Wu
Brunoir & Java Architecture Come Together to Create an Elegant Interior for Nuun Jewels in Paris, France
By Magaly • Jul 3, 2019
Brunoir & Java Architecture have come together to design the interior of this sophisticated and luminous jewelry shop – Nuun Jewels Store – located on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, one of the most luxurious and fashionable streets in the world, located in Paris, France.
Nourah Al Faisal, owner and Art Director of Nuun Jewels, wanted to create a space where Middle Eastern culture could meet a more traditional French style in a way that felt seamless and organic. Having already previously worked with Brunoir to create Nuun Jewels’ first window display at the Four Seasons George V., Nourah Al Faisal wished for this, their first boutique in Paris, to embrace a combination of the brand’s identity along with the style that Brunoir had already created for them.
After the Java Architecture team joined the project, it was agreed that the design style for the boutique should be subdued and minimalistic, allowing for the jewels they would showcase to become the main focus and shine fully.
The interior is modern and bright, with a highly-fashionable style that makes customers know, as soon as they walk in, the quality of the products they’re about to admire. The rose-pink tones of the back-walls, however, along with the light-colored wood of the parquet that covers the floors, adds a touch of welcoming warmth that envelops us as we enter the space. The touches of rose gold, a favorite of Nuun’s, pervade the entirety of the design, creating a pleasant sense of elegant uniformity.
By Courtney • Jun 14, 2019
In the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada, innovative social space designers Partisans have returned to the area following a few successful previous projects, this time to complete the interior renovation of a restaurant space to make the new Quetzal Bar!
Quetzal Bar is not these designers’ first project in the neighbourhood. A number of years back, they were also the driving force behind Bar Raval, a critically acclaimed Spanush “pinto boite”. Now, the same design team has reunited with the same food and drink experts to create a second collaboration with a unique structure and atmosphere distinct from their first.
Quetzal Bar was conceptualized to celebrate and preserve Mexican recipes and cooking techniques from across the country’s various diverse regions. Many of the recipes selected from the menu area generations old and have been passed down with unique changes from family member to family member over the years, making for a truly authentic and delicious dining experience.
The space that the restaurant calls home is a stunning vaulted room that pays homage to certain eras of traditional Mexican architecture. Despite being small, the space feels luminous and welcoming, partially thanks to the lighting choices made by designers and how the light bounces off the unique curved ceiling, and partially thanks to the fragrant, mouthwatering scents wafting from the kitchen.
To make those delicious traditional meals happen, designers and resident chefs alike decided that it would be best to power the College Street bar entirely by a wood-burning fire. This isn’t always typical of how Mexican restaurants cook their meals, even though it’s common practice “back home”. In this way, Quetzal Bar is redefining how Mexican food is both experienced and prepared in Canada itself.
From the outset, restaurant owners stated that they wanted the interior structure of Quetzal Bar to hearken back to the billowing tarps of the market stalls in Mexico. This is where the curvature of the rippling ceiling’s shape came from, as well as the emphasis on organic Oaxacan pottery in the decor details.
Letting these shapes speak volumes within the room, designers chose to keep much of the rest of the space quite simple. The materiality of the furnishings and interiors follows suit, being primarily made of wood, concrete, and plaster. Overall, the space feels breezy and welcoming, blending two cultures in a unique and festive way.
The bar, of course, isn’t free of local Canadian influence either. Owners chose Canadian maple from right there in Ontario to punctuate the rolling ceiling in places that its unique design needed additional support. The concrete of the floor is also locally sourced, letting the Canadian influence ground the space while the Mexican cuisine carries diners away.
Although it is very decorative and reminiscent of Mexican architecture, the ceiling we’ve raved so much about also has a very practical functionality as well. At the same times is it reminds diners of market stalls, or perhaps even snow drifts or sculpted ivory, as employees have suggested, it also hides the industrial air circulation system the restaurant requires to safely ventilate the grill, particularly on bust nights (which there are many of).
The stunning wooden bar is another place where the Canadian element of the space gets to shine. Here, guests can order either cocktails or ceviche, stopping at whichever side they need like they truly are at a Mexican market visiting different stalls. Diners might also visit the comal corner, where the traditional clay ovens used in Mexico are set up for all to see. These spots break down the division between cook and diner, making the meal something to be experienced rather than just consumed.
Photos by Doublespace Photography
Australian Maximus Offices created by Siren Design to give business consultants a dynamic, modern workspace
By Courtney • Jun 13, 2019
In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, innovative designers at Siren Design have recently completed an entire office wide renovation on the newly improved and wonderfully contemporary Maximus Offices!
From the outset, the goal of this renovation was to improve the sense of space for employees. Company heads wanted their business management consultancy team to feel a sense of individuality even while the office itself bears several similarities with the Sydney location, for the sake of cohesiveness and brand consistency.
The first decision designers made was to open up the space completely, both in terms of its layout and in terms of its own framework. Now, the floor plan of each room is open concept and the “bones” of the building, in its supports, ceiling, frame, and details are visible in a way that, rather than looking unfinished, looks minimalist and modern industrial chic.
Another update that had perhaps the biggest effect on employee moods and productivity was the decision to open up as much of each room as possible to ensure that just about every corner is flooded with natural sunlight. This contrast well with the raw elements of the redone building even as it lifts the spirits of those working in the offie and creates and inviting atmosphere typical of more modern office spaces in wider Melbourne.
Another priority shift in the office’s redesign was the way designers opted to explore a sort of blurring of space and traditional boundaries between work spaces, break rooms, and the parts of an office that visitors would normally see. By amalgamating some of these things in one place, keeping designated areas but not closing them off, designers and company heads aimed to make the space more collaborative, friendly in its professionalism, diverse, and welcoming in the way the space works and flows. There’s also a touch of novelty here; now, visitors see some consultants at work to some degree, giving them a sort of “behind the scenes” sneak peek.
Overall, the whole environment was created to feel relaxed. In the entryway, guests are immediately encountered with a welcoming space that, though separate for employee concentration, gives people an easy view into some of the collaborative workspaces. This immediate connection is great for outside collaboration as well as creativity.
Increasing the option of collaborative spaces for the employees themselves was a huge priority as well. The first way in which the company decided to work towards this was by designing a shared cafe, situated near the entrance where guests might join. This space is also often used as a training zone for new employees, making it one of the most diversely used spaces in the whole office.
Now, as we mentioned, the Melbourne space is cohesive with the branding and style of the Sydney location, but it still has its own charm and individualized style, as influenced by its particular employees. Though company values and colour schemes are consistent between the two cities, the new Melbourne spot has a slightly more relaxed, almost residential feel. Where Sydney is rather sophisticated, Melbourne is built to make people feel a little bit more at home.
Photos by Cheyne Toomey
By Courtney • Jun 11, 2019
In the heart of the city of Paris in France, creative design teams atStudio Combo have created a unique open concept working office with an even more unique location: the rooftop of an old French theatre!
This contemporary office, designed for a group of freelancers and contractors who desired a professional but shared cost workspace outside their homes, was built on top of the Élysée Montmartre theatre, which is a monument on the back of the historical Sacre Coeur.
Rather than detracting from the history of the buildings, it brings a sense of charming modern feeling to the day to day activities that happen in and around the theatre. The look of the windowed walls, which provide workers with a view of the city that is nothing short of stellar, contrast beautifully with the otherwise classic architecture in a way that is downright fascinating.
From the outset, designers were determined that this office wouldn’t be anything like the standard corporate offie most people are used to, for reasons besides just its location. That’s why the office is comfortably open concept instead of having a central isolated office and cubicles like most other corporate offices might feature.
Even just visually, the office is nearly a work of art compared to some. Its geometric shapes and high windowed walls with metallc frames allow the perfect amount of sunlight into the space even as the facade twinkles in that same light during the day. Spanning only 300 square feet, the offices look almost as thought they’re floating on the rooftop, like an ethereal, playful tetragon.
Inside the office, white painted metal frames have been left exposed supporting the roof like a subtle, lighter take on the current industrial chic trend. Desks are angled well compared to where the sun might hit computer screens and both collaborative and individualized work spaces are organized in a way that makes the flow of people and ideas simple and effective.
While a wood floor keeps things comfortable and homey, white furnishings keep things looking contemporary and streamlined in a way that suits the historical context of the office’s location specifically because it’s not what you’d expect to find sitting up on top of the theatre at all!
Photos by Guillaume Guerin
Daodao Coffee built by HAD Architects& EPOS in Japan as a relaxation space in the middle of a busy day
By Courtney • Jun 10, 2019
Smack in the middle of the shopping district in Chengdu, China, a lovely two story coffee shop called Daodao Coffee was recently complete by HAD Architects& EPOS with the intention of giving weary shoppers, groups of friends, and quiet individuals a place to gather and find that they’re looking for in one convenient place, without interrupting one another.
Photos by ARCH-EXIST
By Courtney • Jun 7, 2019
In the bustling downtown core of Norwalk, Connecticut, the brand new Remedy Partners Offices were recently provided a refreshing facelift by innovative design teams at Amenta Emma Architects.
Remedy Partners is a healthcare technology company that provides all kinds of specialized goods and services to health professionals and facilities in the surrounding area. Their old offices were not longer the kind of flexible, fast paced environment they wished to provide their own employees on a daily basis, so they opted for an update that might diversify and streamline things for the better.
Employees at Remedy Partners have need of flexible, free flowing spaces and a number of different settings that will serve different functions for their quick paced jobs throughout the day. The primary goal of designers was to give all workers present, no matter their role, a place to work that feels efficient and yet comfortable and familiar, almost second nature.
In addition to feeling comfortable, designers also wanted to create a space full of gentle visual stimulation that might help employees feel motivated to produce their best work. They oped to create shared spaces that facilitate easy teamwork and collaborative time, but also placed value on quieter, more private spaces for those people who need some solid individual time to put their heads down and get to work at their own pace.
Long tables, sofa booths, individualized desks, and quiet rooms, all furnished in calming neutrals and with a blend of natural and industrial materials, provide these diverse workspaces. No matter the kind of worker you are, nor the kind of space that helps you excel the best, you’ll find it easily and accessibly within these offices.
At Remedy Partners, employees are not anchored to one singular spot to do their jobs. They might claim an assigned space but, should they feel that a change of scenery or setup might benefit their work, they’re free (and even encouraged) to seek that out for the sake of their productivity.
In terms of aesthetic, designers sought to establish harmony and balance in all senses. For example, taking inspiration from places like the New York Public Library, these offices were built to feel open and airy but also private and cozy if and when necessary. Within that dynamic, a rugged and industrial feeling scheme in the communal spaces contrasts seamlessly with softer and more comfortable quiet spaces furnished with cozy armchairs and relaxing nooks.
In efforts to take the concepts of motivation, productivity, and calm to all different levels, the office even contains a “no phone zone”. Visually, this space is separated from others in the office through aesthetic, but it’s actually also separated acoustically to drown out the bustle of the more public group work spaces. The “no phone zone” is modelled after the quiet spaces found in places like college libraries and is often used for anything from solitary work to group collaboration or even small presentations.
Photos by Robert Benson Photography
In the sunny but busy streets of San Francisco, California, Rapt Studio has created a company headquarters in a historic old building with plenty of character both inside and out. The Unity Headquarters uses a stripped away aesthetic to impress visitors with visual sophistication worthy of their shining reputation in their industry.
Unity is a 3D development platform company and creator of the world’s most widely downloaded platform for developers looking to create interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences internationally. The company’s employees were in need of an innovative, flexible, and contemporary workspace that matches the level of forward thinking found in their product and service.
The goal from the beginning was to create an office with an atmosphere and framework that feels comfortable and accessible to everyone but also like it was built for the next generation of developers and industry leaders. Like the software they create, Unity executives wanted their head office to harness flexibility and transformation.
This is part of the reason designers chose to make the most of available space by building the office across two existing buildings, joining them as a single complex in the process. The full expanse of the office occupies a three-storey atrium that boasts individual and group workspaces, places for events and full dining experiences, and areas for screenings and tech assembly.
As might be expected from a leading tech company, the office is cutting edge in the way it uses modern electronic devices to make office processes, both individual and group, feel simple, fast, and streamlined. Employees can both attend and participate in mass meetings from any floor without even getting up from their individualized workspace.
At the same time as the office allows for fantastic individualized productivity thanks its tech accessibility and layout, it is also decorated in a way that fosters togetherness and encourages collaboration. A calming, neutral colour scheme and natural palette of materiality makes the space feel relaxing even as it enables a fast paced work day, making the work day feel like a gathering rather than a staunch and lonely process.
Besides being created to foster collaboration and productivity, the office’s interior was put together with the specific goal of harnessing the beauty of the original building in an authentic way. Many of the materials now featured in the decor scheme, furnishings, and details were original elements before teams arrived on scene.
The materials preserved in this way (which were almost all locally sourced) were primarily natural ones. Brick walls were left exposed all around the office, concrete columns remain uncovered, and salvaged wooden beams were move from their original places and transformed into the facade of the new reception desk, as well as the canteen bar. Upcycling played a huge role in balancing the new with the historical all across the office.
The canteen bar is a social hub within a hardworking office. It is a comfortable space designed to help employees relax, get to know one another, and give their brains a break so as to avoid losing steam during the day. It is understood here that any employee is welcome to make themselves a coffee or even pour themselves a beer.
The central atrium of the building, around and above which various workspaces in the office are built, is another place where authentically old fashioned looking elements are incorporated into a high tech place. Here, an industrial staircase provides access to every floor with a bright, open atmosphere that gives views into different collaborative rooms as you travel up or down.
Overall, designers wanted to provide Unity’s employees with a space that might be as fast paced and simple to use as the technologies they create. The office’s floor plan includes phone rooms, cafes, lounges, conference rooms of different kinds, and even a well stocked library full of relevant reference materials. Employees are enabled to work from almost anywhere in the building with full access to what they need, set up comfortably enough that they feel right at home.
Photos by Jasper Sanidad
Fujitsu Offices by Billard Leece Partnership blend Japanese company’s values and local Australian influence in Melbourne
By Courtney • May 28, 2019
In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, a new international office for the Japanese company Fujitsu was recently completed by design teams at Billard Leece Partnership with the goal of blending visual, spacial, and decorative elements from both countries.
The well known global technology firm wanted to build a space for their employees that bears recognizable details from each nation’s style, culture, and history, but also feels cohesive within itself in order to keep things comfortable and easy to concentrate in. Designers wanted to create a scheme that harness’s the company’s international value of “One Fujitsu” while adding a bit of an Australian flavour into the mix for the sake of familiarity.
Melbourne is a city that is already quite known for its slightly European influence architecture and styling, which gave designers something quite unique to work with already. The result of this and Japanese concepts of tech access and clean minimalism was a clean, crisp, and slightly understated sense of contemporary styling. Readily apparent quality can be seen in every material detail and finished surface.
Another point of decor inspiration from Melbourne itself was the way that city is organized. Laid out in a grid-like fashion with notorious laneways interspersed alongside main streets, the city’s structure motivated the way designers incorporated pops and streaks of colour throughout different activity zones that other was look quite urbane, refined, and neatly organized.
Fujitsu and their Japanese roots are heavily featured right alongside the decor elements that were inspired by the office’s location. The company’s signature red hue is woven through out the space like a highlight in a fabric, accenting furniture, decor details, and joinery. The presence of bright red serves as a link to the brand’s international status while still keeping the headquarters’ space authentic to its local character.
At the same time as designers aimed to keep Japanese roots and local Melbourne influence enmeshed into their office layout, they also wanted to incorporate the key values of the company itself (beyond just the colour red). The offices, therefore, pay utmost respect to environment through the use of sustainable materials at the same time as they exemplify leadership in innovation through the seamless and accessible integration of cutting edge technologies in the workplace.
Overall, the finished offices present a flexible and adaptive workplace that offers employees of all kinds spaces that are optimized for collaboration, independent focus, client engagement, and workplace community, depending on one’s needs. Each space is equipped with the latest technology, making the office a space of good information flow and interpersonal connectivity.
Kane World Food Studio by Bogdan Ciocodeică created in Bucharest with a mixture of materials and an emphasis on greenery
By Courtney • May 27, 2019
In a lovely up and coming neighbourhood located just outside of Bucharest’s downtown core in Romania, Bogdan Ciocodeică has built a beautifully blended looking and nature inspired new space for Kane World Food Studio.
Besides just providing great food to the locals in the area, the restaurant actually aims to become a landmark within the city’s social fabric. You see, this newly transformed building space is just one part of a wider effort to regenerate areas of the city;s boroughs that have become worn and distressed in terms of their buildings and spaces over time.
The approach designers opted to take in terms of aesthetic and materiality was kept quite simply and clear, establishing a sense of atmosphere that might appear minimalist were it not then embellished with lovely abundant greenery. Without doubt, the priority for everyone involved was atmosphere and not image, with acknowledgement for the fact that each improves the other.
Now that it is complete, it feels like an urban oasis the moment you walk through the door. In contrast with the concrete streets outside, the restaurant presents a lush jungle within the steel frame of the building housing it. In a way that fits its diverse, fusion style menu, the restaurant provides a space that feels relaxing but also somehow exotic and worldly.
The plants serve a functional purpose as well as a decorative one! Not only do they create a strong outdoor connection from within the restaurant’s main room, but they also define some of the inner space and provide a bit of privacy to different parts. This is far more pleasant and sensical with the place’s overall values than building, say, solid booth separators. Guests sit within and around pleasant, fresh “screens” of greenery instead.
The plants serve a functional purpose as well as a decorative one! Not only do they create a strong outdoor connection from within the restaurant’s main room, but they also define some of the inner space and provide a bit of privacy to different parts. This is far more pleasant and sensical with the place’s overall values than building, say, solid booth separators. Guests sit within and around pleasant, fresh “screens” of greenery instead.
In some places, fully mirrored walls reflect the space to make the room look open and spacious while brass details contrast beautifully with smooth marble and stunning wooden furniture, adding a sense of the high end to all of that otherwise natural materiality. These metallic details aren’t actually the only place that uses balance and contrast to perfect things.
The seating areas themselves and they way they’re laid out also differ and a well laid out way that creates a sense of balance and contrast simultaneously, making the spaces practical but also enjoyable to use. This lies in the existence of both a higher seating area with a harder perimeter, making it seem a little more fast and formal, and a softer, more fluid seating area in the centre of the room that feels quite shared, organic, and relaxed.
Artwork throughout the space serves both decorative and practical function as well. Besides adding local character and depth to the space through their mere colour and beauty, the art gives the restaurant a sense of depth and volume through the way it was purposely positioned to be reflected across the room in the various mirrors.
Lighting is very intentional within the space as well. Most of the perimeter of the restaurant is floor to ceiling windows, flooding the whole space in stunning light. To work with this, the installed lighting varies between soft, dispersed light that adds a glow to the whole larger space and more direct lighting that focuses on specific tables, adding to social and dining experiences.
In total, the restaurant spans a space of 180 square metres inside. The main dining room offers 74 seated spots, most on custom made furniture or pieces selected from brands made by local designers.
Photos by Andrei Margulescu
By Courtney • May 23, 2019
In a suburb of sunny Bangkok in Thailand, innovative designers at Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated have thought inside the box in order to create a unique parking garage built entirely out of upcycled shipping crates!
In total, the carpark is made of eight very large shipping containers that were deemed too old for their original use. Instead of letting them be thrown out, this company spruced them up, made sure they didn’t bear any weak spots, and transformed them into a building! This building looks shockingly elegant considering its recycled nature, sitting in the centre of the suburb of Nonthaburi.
Within those eight containers we mentioned, the building is made up of two different sizes of container; four large and four small. The four smaller modules make up the wonderfully bright, light filled front building while the larger ones make up the places to the back and top where cars are stored when they’re parked. The containers are arranged purposefully and strategically to fit effectively into the narrow, compact little corner lot in which they sit.
Originally, this plot was home to another building. This building also featured a car care business but it was simply too old and run down to continue housing the service in a way that gave the owners what they truly needed. Designers immediately began strategizing better ways to organize and take advantage of the 3000 square foot lot, with its unique long and narrow shape.
In order to expand on the space the owners might have available without trying to fill the lot too heavily, designers chose to build things upwards rather than outwards. This is how the stacked looking vertical design that you see in the photos came about. Growing the building to boast three stories provided more flexible, multi-purpose space without cramming too much onto the ground level and overwhelming the look of the street around the structure.
The bottom level of the finished carpark as it is now was designed to let the business it houses grow. The spaces that aren’t currently being used serve well for storage until the owners get back into the swing of things with clients post renovations and overflow of car service moves into that space instead.
On the second floor things are actually entirely open and empty right now, but they won’t stay that way forever. The owners actually have plans for building a restaurant and bar there above the carpark! The third floor is and will remain a lovely, light filled office space with an outdoor staircase that lets visitors access it without crossing the work floor where the cars are serviced.
Speaking of spaces being light filled, the level of natural sunlight was actually a huge priority in this project and partially determined how the shipping containers were arranged! The goal was to create as much window space as possible but, due to the intense Thai heat in the summer, designers still chose to install metal sun shades in certain places so the level of sunlight can be reduced when necessary in order to avoid overheating.
The final touch on the building’s completion was to paint the exterior in as aesthetically pleasing but subtle matte black. This helped the building itself blend into the urban landscape around it while also reducing solar radiation. To contrast this and keep things from feeling too dark and closed off, the carpark’s interiors all remain a clean, bright white that looks very modern and impressive indeed.
Photos by Chaovarith Poonphol
Chinese daodaocoffee created by HAD Architects& EPOS to blend design, experience, and good coffee in one place
By Courtney • May 13, 2019
In the heart of Intime City, in the Chengdu region of China, an innovative new coffee shop called daodaocoffee was recently completed by HAD Architects& EPOS to provide its clientele with a diverse, useful, and calming space for social and individual experiences.
The coffee shop sits in the middle of the Commercial District, standing two storeys tall and occupying a total of only 65 square meters. Besides making the shop convenient, simple, and fast to use, designers also aimed to make it a serene spot where coffee lovers might come to relax and comfortably spend a portion of their otherwise busy days.
They began by analyzing what kinds of different customers they might get in the area and what each of those people’s specific needs might be. This helped them develop ways to put together a space that provides all kinds of diverse things to people whose days function differently despite all involving a moment taken to enjoy a good coffee.
Changeability is a huge part of the plan that makes this particular coffee shop so innovative and unique to experience. Different parts of the shop, for example, provide different seating types and spatial experiences, while others can actually be altered and moved around by customers in order to give them whatever kind of layout or comfort they’re looking for.
Materiality played a huge role in the experience as well. In a space that wants to prioritize serenity and relaxation, atmosphere is everything. That’s why locally sourced light wood was the perfect thing to establish an almost spa-like aesthetic within the coffee shop. Natural lighting from very high windows adds to this effect, keep the space bright but cheerful rather than abrasive.
In reality, the coffee shop is actually quite open concept, with very little physical division of space taking place. Instead, designers opted to make things visually and conceptually clear in terms of which spaces are intended to serve which functions, allowing customers to mentally identify spaces for seating, socializing, studying, and so on based on how they’re laid out and where they’re situated.
Wood plays a role in this division of space too. Parts of the shop that are intended to be more casual, relaxing, and social are built in all wood while areas that are supposed to feel more individual and private feature black perforated panels that partially shield them from more public spaces where groups might gather.
Although both floors are free to be interpreted by whatever visitors happen to venture into then, designers had a sense of the uses of each one from the outside. The bottom floor of the shop is intended to be a more social, public space where busy office workers or tired shoppers might take a quick seat and socialize for a bit while they rest their feet and chat before moving on again.
The upper floor, on the other hand, is geared more towards those who would like to stick around and seek a bit of solace in the place, getting some privacy and within a public atmosphere so that they still get out of the house, but without being overly disturbed or distract while they do things like read a book, work remotely, or study for school.
The coffee shop also features an external bar. This is designed for people who have arrived for their coffee date a little early but are still awaiting someone else to join them. Sitting at the bar gives customers a pleasant view of the square outside the windows, which is impressive as the shop is quite close to the entrance of the Commercial District, making it an easy landmark meeting place.
The shop even has a self-service desk! This sits on the upper floor and presents customers with the option to fetch themselves lemonade and various coffee or tea ingredients for free, making it the perfect spot to host small, quiet meetings or prolonged individual sessions where one might want more than one refreshment while they’re there.
The most private point of the coffee shop sits in the upper corner of the top floor. Here, a space that’s specifically designed for one person seeking a quiet spot outside their home to work or think has been set up. Designers chose to actually raise this small area even a little higher than the rest of the second floor, giving it a true but very comfortable sense of quiet seclusion.
Photos by ARCH-EXIST
By Courtney • May 10, 2019
In the city of Minsk in Belarus, a team of young, vivacious architects at the firm Studio 11 have recently finished designing their entire own head office space, right at the heart of the city.
The layout of the brand new Minsk office consists of a networking of rooms. These are two primary workrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a high tech bathroom, and a final room for storing materials and samples. The office’s interior is interesting and unique because, going into it, designers did not nail down any specifically planned or concrete aesthetic or scheme; they let it develop gradually through the process, giving it an atmosphere that feels organic and looks fluid.
Because it was created directly by those who work there, this particular work place is literally a physical manifestation of the personal and business philosophies of its employees. Their personal stamps and influences can be recognized throughout the rooms, mimicking the techniques and styles that are typical of the company’s client projects and have become like a signature.
A great example of this is the ceramic module; a space that bears a lot of personal meaning to those working in the office because the concept was originally developed and built in its first iteration for on of the company’s first widely recognized interior projects. This sense if personal connection with a workplace adds a cozy layer that is at once motivating and relaxing.
Now that it’s finished, the interior scheme bears large modernist influences. It is also clad with classic and more contemporary art and has a few splashes of trendy elements here and there. The materiality is intentionally quite functional, mimimalist, and sterile looking, but the colour pops of chosen local furnishings and art pieces warm it up.
Throughout each of the rooms, even, where decor differs, there is a common thread that emphasizes the raw and beautifully impure. This is evident in the way most of the concrete surfaces have been left with all their natural pores and cracks. The ceiling, as well, is similarly unfinished and unpolished and yet contributes beautifully the the overall aesthetic.
To suit the grey of the many concrete elements but still keep the place bright and friendly, the walls have been painted a grey tinted blue on the lower half, giving each a horizontal stripe. In most rooms, the curtains reflect this same hue, adding dimension and continuity throughout the spaces. Other colours in paintings, greenery, and pops of decor reflect or contrast with this central shade accordingly.
Perhaps the most central piece of the office is the salmon coloured kitchen island that sits right in the middle of the kitchen, which in turn is in the middle of the office. This means that most of the other spaces in the workplace are organized around it, making it a kind of anchor within the colour and decor schemes.
Besides the way designers chose to decorate their work spaces with art from local creators, they also incorporated samples of their own, featuring many of their influences and typical materiality choices right there where they can be seen by all. These art pieces and samples, in partnership with plants and greenery dotted around each room, create a sense of cosiness in a modernist office that might otherwise feel loud and echoing.
Photos by Dmitry Tsyrencshikov
By Courtney • Apr 18, 2019
In the bustling urban area of downtown Chicago, Perkins+Will has recently completed a workspace renovation for the Skender Construction Offices that’s designed to inspire its employees to work a little differently than they might be used to!
Compared to their old space, these new offices are much more community-oriented. They have a much more open layout throughout the entire office space, fostering an easier time working together amongst employees when necessary. Project partners can find a common area or a secluded corner to discuss their work in or industry associates and clients can meet with experts in interesting, less traditional places that the regular “stuffy office” might not offer.
Besides just renovating an older space, the company actually moved their office as well, meaning the entire area around the office is also new to their staff. Of course, this requires a touch of adjustment, but it mostly signals a fresh start in their vibrant new workplace. This move was part of the ongoing positive evolution that Skender sees for their company and its employees.
To start, designers actually met with company leaders and their employees and let the people who will be using the space at ground level weigh in about what kinds of changes they wanted to see and how their needs might be met even better than they are already. This discussion process gave company representatives at all level some small hand in the office’s new redesign.
The central feature of the new space is a sort of workplace social hub at the heart of the office. This is where staff, from their private work areas, are easily and quickly connected to a thoroughly collaborative environment with plenty of space for different groups to work in at once.
Extending off that central space are three smaller but still spacious and very diverse spaces that might be used for a number of multifaceted purposes. These range from group meetings, break time, private moments, or simply a change of scenery. Sometimes industry events and town hall meetings are even held in the new meeting rooms at Skender. At any given point, the new spaces might house up to 600 people quite comfortably.
Lighting and decor play a huge role in the atmosphere of the office as well. Large windows provide natural light but interestingly shaped and clean, white LED lights are placed throughout the office for function and decor as well. The furniture, which is quite decorative, hits somewhere between homey and mod, giving employees a day to day change of scenery but also a sense of familiar comfort.
Because the office is so unique in its open concept and collaborative tenets and layout, several industry and client related tours have actually been requested and lead since its completed. This has allowed an increased networking opportunity for all professionals involved while also letting the companies show off their fantastic new space.
Photos by Hall + Merrick Photographers
Net Marketing Offices created in Tokyo by DRAFT Inc. as a comfortable work environment for employees of a rapidly growing company
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
Net Marketing Offices, located in Tokyo, Japan and recently created by DRAFT Inc., are a shining example of design techniques in fostering productive, comfortable work spaces that prioritize employee experience, making their work day more enjoyable and benefitting their work ethic.
In this space specifically, designers and clients went out of their way to establish an explicit work and leisure balance. Perhaps the clearest example of this was their inclusion of an in-office relaxation spa that employees are encouraged to use as they need! This space even offers licensed acupuncture. Between that and the way the office presents versatile and creative options for workspace depending on one’s style, as well as easy access to calming natural light, makes working in this office feel a lot less like… well, work.
Net Marketing is a company that hit its stride and grew very rapidly indeed, which is part of the reason designers and clients wanted to incorporate an element of relaxation into the average fast paced work day. The work spaces of the office are divided across two separate floors, with a third floor above that hosting a space specifically designed to help employees unwind and refresh when necessary. Each person might choose where they feel best working that day.
The open space on the third floor is a versatile one. Some might use it as a quiet break area, but many others visit the space for personal working time or group work. The office occasionally hosts events there as well. In the event that an employee feels as though they need further relaxation to benefit their productivity, they can seek out the office’s acupuncture services or even use the spa area to take a short nap. Health and wellness are an explicit priority here.
Because the nature of the work done in the office requires a high instance of group work, designers aimed to created a space where meetings, large or small, can be conducted easily, comfortably, and efficiently. Communication was a huge priority as well. This is why the team established a layout that enables employees to switch simply and freely between places, working styles, and atmospheres.
In addition to their own personal desks, employees in this office are provided with and free to use a number of other work spots, such as sofas, modern seats in nooks and corners, and standing counters. This setup also lets people easily interact with each other, enabling a free flow of information between them and making for smoother group processes. Of course, in such a free space, there is always a sense of respecting each other’s work styles and need for quiet or conversation, letting people collaborate better but also opt out of engagement when necessary.
In order to let as much natural light reach as many of the office’s rooms and corners as possible, designers chose to divide what spaces are delineated using glass partitions rather than opaque walls. This allows sunlight to travel from room to room as the day goes on. Rather than framing these partitions with harsh black lines, the team opted for brown and neutral shades in their supports to make things feel more casual and less hardened and industrial.
To bolster the use of quite natural materials in the space (you’ll notice heavy accents of wood and mortar, for example, plant life has also been incorporated into the office’s decor scheme and aesthetic. Besides being proven to improve prolonged indoor experiences, greenery helps amp up that casual, spa influenced theme and sense of comfortability.
Photos by Katsuhiro Aoki
Sydney’s Raine & Horne Offices by PMG Group designed to encourage employees to embrace new ways of working
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, innovative designers PMG Group have created a fantastic office space for the real estate company Raine & Horne as part of an initiative to encourage their employees to embrace new ways of working.
From the outside of the project’s plans, one of the primary goals was to bring employees out of their offices and into more open spaces in order to facilitate a more flowing, collaborative work environment that cubicle style offices simply aren’t built for. Besides that, the team wanted to create a space that blends company history and a familiar, trusted brand with bright, modern spaces and aesthetics.
Upon entering, visitors can already tell that the office is bright and fun. Natural light reaches every corner and highlights a wall of prints featuring historical moments in local real estate, showcasing to clients that the business evolves quickly with the market but still knows its roots. Nearby, a lovely and casual deck area is available for staff and clients to enjoy in their spare time.
In keeping with the natural light and the way it brightens up the space, designers chose to incorporate a lot of greenery into areas of the office. These are dotted around the more formal workspaces and the slightly more casual meeting areas, including the window seating, break booths, and tiered group seating. Many different kinds of group meeting spaces are available depending on what the employees need for the task at hand.
In the areas that are actually designed for more private work, the colour scheme is neutral and natural in a way that is quite calming. This contrasts well with the pops of colour you’ll find in more public areas of the office. Wooden elements and reclaimed timber add a sense of warmth and familiarity. Some spaces have received a more dramatic update than others; the bathroom, for example, was once compared by an employee to the one at “grandma’s house” and now it’s one of the most modern spaces in the place.
The emphasis on keeping an historical aspect in the space continues beyond just the entrance in a beautiful way. Printed graphics, artifacts, and local memorabilia dot the social spaces and line the walls near the tiered seating, private work zone, and throughout several meeting rooms.
Photos by Oliver Ford Photography
Located in Morioka, a city in the Tohoku region of Japan, is the brand new Nagasawa Coffee, a shop that was designed by ARII IRIE Architects to incorporate the process of making its product into an actual part of the whole purchasing experience.
When the owners of the original shop came up with the idea of moving it into a bigger space so they could include a recently purchased 1960s vintage roaster in the decor scheme, a much bigger plan started to form. They ended up developing the vision of a whole new shop where guests become privy to the actual process of roasting and making their coffee from scratch, more like an open workshop space than just your average coffee shop.
When the designers came onto the project, they sought a way to enable the clients’ vision in the simplest, most space efficient way possible. A primary element of this minimalist but pleasing spatial concept is the big terrazzo table where most of the customer service is completed. This table is 6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, making it quite sizeable indeed.
Despite being large, this service table is, in fact, space efficient because it is so multipurpose and so much can centre around it. besides being a service counter and a table to sit at, the desk is also an active tabletop where live roasting takes place, with packaged, unroasted, and roasted beans are all stored, displayed, and prepared within full view of the customers’ curious eyes.
The new shop, despite having a bigger square footage, is still decently small; in fact, it has a lower ceiling than the previous space. This doesn’t interfere with customers’ ability to enjoy the space at all, but designers still wanted to counteract that visually in order to keep the space feeling balanced rather than short. This is why they’ve kept them primary counter quite low.
The counter isn’t quite low enough to grab anyone’s attention for its lacking height, but it does create a sensical space between its tabletop and the ceiling, which is only 2.8 metres high. Situating the tabletop where most customers’ attention will be fixed lower draws their eye line downward and away from the ceiling. Additionally, the lower height makes the primary counter feel like a bit more of a stage on which a dance of some kind is taking place.
Across from the ever-important counter is where the vintage roaster we mentioned previously lives. It is on full display and curious customers are encouraged to look at it up close and take in all its mechanics and details. Between the counter and the roast sits a long, lovely smoothed granite table that guests might use as social and communal space. Slightly more individualized seating can be found at the front of the store, near the edge of the counter.
Thanks to the difference in look and aesthetic between the vintage roaster and the clean-edged, modern looking furniture, like the table and its accompanying minimalist stools, the whole shop is bathed in a stunning contrast between vintage and contemporary. The effect is nothing short of stunning and that, combined with the experience of witnessing the entire coffee bean process, really makes Nagasawa coffee stand out.
Photos by Kai Nakamura