What Makes Really Great Tech Office Design? (Clue: It’s not all about emulating Google)

By David Keane | on May 29th, 2015

It’s well documented that some technology companies believe in the power of serendipity—the idea of driving random encounters between employees through ingenious office design. According to Google—Gmail, Street View and other innovations would not have happened without spontaneous, idea-generating collisions in the cafe, sculpture garden or bowling alley, often between members of unconnected teams. The message is clear: if you want to stoke innovation, working-collaboration into your office refurbishment trumps working-solo every time.

It’s a vision of creativity replicated by companies all over the world. From London to Kuala Lumpur, office interiors are being flooded with replicas of the tech-look—Candy Crush colours, foosball tables and other features, all in the name of serendipity. Tech has become the go-to template for a lot of office refurbishment these days.

Problem is, we believe in listening hard and one size office design doesn’t fit all.

So it was nice to encounter a tech company with a different kind of vision—one that imagines all the benefits of flexible, collaborative, coworking with none of the, well, Googleness of it all.

Enter Gameloft, a global mobile gaming company who needed new space for their London HQ. Three thousand square feet of loft-style space in a converted Victorian women’s prison fitted the property bill, and client representatives Tuckerman asked us to meet the client and look at their office refurbishment.

The opportunity and brief blew us away. The client wanted a cool, Scandinavian loft feel for their office interior design, about as far removed from the neon-bright tech-sphere as it was possible to get. We put on our thinking caps, and Gameloft loved the pared-back concept CCWS and designer Rebecca Joseph delivered. Muted, stylish and low key—bang on brief as well as ticking all the productivity boxes.

This is office design gone paleo—nourishing in all the essential ways.

Embracing the building’s Victorian bones, we’re opening up and exposing the architecture, based on client’s requirements. Natural timber brings warmth to the high-ceiling, stripped-back space. We’re keeping the homely, old Victorian fireplaces and making them an office design feature. Real wood floors, stripped, sanded and oiled for an uber-cool natural Scando-look, complete the “home from home” feel.

Inside the light and airy shell, three distinct working spaces will provide just the right balance between open, collaborative working and head-down seclusion. The open floor plan delivers plenty of space for workers to move freely around the furniture and each other. Meeting rooms allow for discreet project discussions, bringing teams together and offering occasional respite for the workers who feel they’re standing naked in a partition-free room. The third space, the social hub, offers casual lounging and relaxation—perfect for those serendipitous lunchtime encounters.

Gameloft Openplan View02_2

Furniture makes it easy for workers to work together and share ideas. Long bench desks and sit-stand collaboration tables provide a flexible office fit out that grows with each project. Workers can simply move up and down the benches as they need more space or contract when they need less space. On a sunny day you might want to work outside, and we’ve made this possible too by opening the central floorplan out onto a courtyard stocked with multi-purpose furniture and illuminated plant pots for evening use.

Put these elements together, and you get an office interior design that feels tech-space cool without all the shouting. An office refurbishment that reflects the community and the culture of the brand. It’s informal, un-pressured and stripped back by today’s tech office standards, but well-considered, and a great fit for the company.

Which just goes to show, a tech space London office refurbishment doesn’t have to be garish to be stylish. Pared-back spaces, free from unnecessary distractions like too many colours and accessories, leave much more room for workers to move around, chat and collaborate. We call it serendipity without all the gimmicks— just nimble, flexible office design.

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