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Beyond Amenities, What’s Next for Workplace Design?

At a panel discussion titled “The New Basics,” designers, developers, and facilities experts tried to work out what will be essential to the office of the future.

 

From private chefs to meditation rooms, companies have pulled out all the stops when it comes to amenities in the workplace. Whether driven by the battle for talent or employee demands, tech and media organizations in particular continue to vie with one another to provide employee benefits. Cafes, phone booths, and lounges have become commonplace, with nap rooms and fitness centers following suit. But how much amenity is too much amenity? Is there any downside to this trend, and what should we consider to be the new basics of the office?

A group of workplace experts gathered at the Poppin showroom in San Francisco earlier this year to discuss these questions and point to a way forward in office design. Primo Orpilla, whose award-winning firm Studio O+A created some of the first amenity-rich offices in the tech sector, spoke to the origins of the trend. “We really just wanted to create a place where people would come together, collaborate, share ideas and maybe spend a little more time, and that time be more meaningful,” he said. “It was also a great way for the company to show that they cared.”

But now the pendulum might have swung too far, said Alex Spilger, vice president of development and director of sustainability at Cushman & Wakefield: “I see friends that work for these tech companies that say, ‘I want to leave my job but I’m afraid to give up the free massage and the free food,’ and I have to ask them, ‘Are you staying there for the right reasons?’”

Amenities cannot be expected to stand in for a sense of purpose among employees, and companies have to work at fostering that spirit of community. “The spaces have to have meaning to the company and to the employees,” said Verda Alexander, cofounder of Studio O+A. “The idea of superficial amenity spaces really needs to fall by the wayside.”

So what kinds of amenities would not be considered superficial? Sometimes, essential amenities are determined by the culture of the organization, said John Liu, facilities director at Rakuten. At his company, “AV is gargantuan everywhere because that allows [companies] to have video conferencing with every office, to be able to sync up without having employees travel as much.” Hoteling is another such amenity, which Liu finds he has to figure more and more into his headcount projections.

However, workers aren’t just concerned about short-term benefits for themselves or their employers. “People want to work for companies that care,” Spilger said, “so a commitment to sustainability is a core amenity.” The urban (or suburban) context, and the company’s commitments to the community outside also figure heavily in employees’ list of wants. “Those values are part of the new basics,” said Jason Bonnet, vice president of development at Brookfield Properties. “I can get a paycheck from any tech company here, but what are you really doing when I step outside as it relates to improving where I live?” At Brookfield’s new developments in San Francisco, such as 5M and Pier 70, office spaces are situated within a mixed-use context. The developers have built social impact into the plans, offering ground-level activations and donating spaces to non-profits.

Talking about the backlash against tech giants in Seattle and San Francisco, Alexander said she wished offices could integrate “more amenity spaces that are maybe on the ground floor, accessible to the public and that interact with the public. I would love to see more social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and any kind of amenity space that could directly engage the public.”

Spilger summed up the discussion by offering a demographic analysis of where workplace design needs to focus next. “A lot of amenities were driven by millennials—ping pong tables, foosball, free food, happy hours,” he said. “Those millennials are starting families. They no longer need the happy hour or the ping pong table; they want flexibility, autonomy, and purpose behind the work.”

Categories: Workplace Interiors

Continue reading Beyond Amenities, What’s Next for Workplace Design?

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NYCxDESIGN 2019 Event Calendar

Check out exhibitions, panel discussions, and other creative happenings during NYCxDESIGN2019, taking place in New York City May 10-22 and including ICFF, WantedDesign, and Brooklyn Designs. Follow #NYCxDESIGN on Twitter for live updates from the events!

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Enter the 2019 HiP Awards by May 17th

May 2-31

Monday-Saturday 11am-5pm; Tuesday & Thursday 11am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm

Event: 47th Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House23 interior designers have transformed a 12,000-square-foot Upper East Side residence; tickets benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club

Location: 36-38 East 74th St.

May 8-24

Event: Ateliernovo pop-up shop in SoHo

Location: 96 Grand St.

May 10-12 | Friday 11am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-6pm

Event: Brooklyn Designs, showcasing design, architecture, and art talent based in Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn Navy Yard, Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn

May 9 – June 28 | 10am-6pm, open Tuesday-Saturday

Event: Kasmin gallery presents Jasper Morrison‘s solo exhibition of furniture.

Location: 297 Tenth Ave.

May 10 | 10am-6pm

Event: Nature Salons, co-organized with Cube design museum in the Netherlands, is an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt featuring more than 60 groundbreaking works from designers across all disciplines who are collaborating with scientists, engineers, farmers, environmentalists, and nature itself to design a more harmonious and regenerative future.

Location: 2 E 91st St.

May 10-22 | 10am-6pm

Event: 1stdibs & Female Design Council present an exhibition of work by female artists and designers.

Location: Terminal Stores, 269 11th Ave., Lobby 4 – Floor 7

May 12 | 3pm-4pm

Event: Brooklyn Designs and Richard Beavers Gallery present “Storytelling with Art:” Learn the tools of the trade from interior designer Leyden Lewis of Leyden Lewis Design Studio and gallerist Richard Beavers of Richard Beavers Gallery.

Location: Brooklyn Navy Yard, Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn 

May 12-14 | 8am-5pm

Event: Calico Wallpaper & Workstead lighting and wallpaper installation

Location: 220 Church St.

May 12-28

Event: Kin & Company and Asa Pingree present “Inside/Out,” an installation of avant-garde outdoor furniture from 20+ designers.

Location: Vale Park at the William Vale, 111 N 12th St., Brooklyn

May 15 – June 28

Event: Pelle presents its conceptual lighting design installation.

Location: 56 W 22nd St., 8th Floor

May 16-20 | 11am-6pm

Event: WantedDesign Brooklyn at Industry City, a free, open-to-the-public event featuring exhibitions and workshops.

Location: Industry City, 274 36th St., Brooklyn

May 16 | Hours and events vary from showroom to showroom

Event: Tribeca Design DistrictA variety of showrooms and galleries in the neighborhood will be open for extended hours, cocktail receptions, and exhibit openings. 

Location: Key showrooms include Colony at 324 Canal St., 2nd Floor; David Weeks Studio at 38 Walker St.; Urban Archeology at 158 Franklin St.; Montauk Sofa at 42 Lispenard St.; and Stillfried Wien at 40 Walker St.

May 16 | 11am-7pm

Event: Pas De Calais x Trueing: Trueing’s newest lighting collection, Cerine, launches at the SoHo flagship of Pas de Calais.

Location: 482 Broome St.

May 17-30

Event: A/D/O by MINI and Studio INI present “Urban Imprint” installation on people and the built environment.

Location: 29 Norman Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn

May 17-27 | 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm Sunday

Event: Design Within Reach and Entireworld present “Dome Life” shoppable retail pop-up and installation.

Location: 110 Greene St.

May 17 – June 17 | 6pm-9pm

Event: USM & kinder MODERN present an installation of furniture and decorative art featuring custom furniture pieces commissioned by kM that include Elyse Graham, Fort Standard, and Paul Ketz.

Location: 28 Greene St.

May 17-22 | 10am-7pm

Event: Lee Broom will debut new editions of key pieces from his award-winning Observatory lighting collection.

Location: 34 Greene St.

May 17-31 | 10am-6pm

Event: Colony Art/Design Cooperative presents “Pas de Deux” exhibition: Colony’s designers will showcase a new work of design, furniture, lighting, textiles, or object, paired with a work of fine art of their choosing.

Location: 324 Canal St., 2nd Floor

May 17 – June 17 | 11am-6pm

Event: “Common Ground,” a showroom installation, will feature lighting and styled vignettes of spaces by both Henrybuilt and Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.

Location: 12 Crosby St.

May 18-21 | Saturday/Sunday/Monday 10am-7pm, Tuesday 10am-5pm

Event: WantedDesign Manhattan at the Terminal Stores, featuring more than 110 exhibitors plus workshops and Launch Pad 2019 for emerging designers. No fee for trade registrations; two-day public pass tickets available for Saturday-Sunday.

Location: Terminal Stores, 269 11th Ave.

May 18 | 2pm-3pm

Event: Be Original Americas panel discussion: Michael Hsu, a design and technology writer, will lead a panel of creative experts on Bauhaus design, including Carlo Gasparini, design manager for Alessi; Susan Lyons, president of Designtex; and Ben Watson, chief creative officer of Herman Miller.

Location: Terminal Stores, 269 11th Ave.

May 18 | 5pm-9pm

Event: Join Artemide in celebrating NYCxDesign at their SoHo showroom to preview the brand’s latest lighting innovations.

Location: 46 Greene St.

May 18-24 | 11am-7pm

Event: Next Level presents a designer-led and curated exhibition, paper lantern installation by NYC artists, and panels on sustainability and women in design.

Location: 718 Broadway

May 18 | 6:30pm-9pm

Event: Luceplan is hosting a preview of their American product launches and a presentation from designer Stephen Burks on the brand’s latest “all-in-one” acoustical solution, Trypta.

Location: 14 Wooster St.

May 19-24 | 10am-6pm

Event: “Cassina as Seen by Karl Lagerfeld,” a presentation of Cassinafurniture as photographed by Karl in Gerhard Steidl’s new book.

Location: 151 Wooster St.

May 19 | 2pm

Event: Tarkett & AIA NY present a design talk focused on design process and climate change.

Location: Terminal Stores, 269 11th Ave.

May 19-21 | 10am-5pm May 19, 10am-6pm May 20 – 21

Event: ICFF (trade only)

Location: Javits Center, 655 W 34th St.

May 20 | 2pm-3pm

Event: Next Level and Here Projects present a panel discussion on the impact of black culture in contemporary art, moderated by interior designer Everick Brown.

Location: 718 Broadway

May 20 | 5pm Cocktail Hour, 6pm-7pm Awards, 7pm-10pm ICFF Party

Event: NYCxDesign Awards, where winners will be announced live at the award ceremony hosted by Cindy Allen, Editor in Chief of Interior Design

Location: Pier 17, 89 South St.

May 22 | 10am-4pm

Event: ICFF (public and trade)

Location: Javits Center, 655 W 34th St.

May 22 | 11am-6pm

Event: Egg Collective‘s Tribeca showroom opens with collaborative designs by Callidus Guild and Hiroko Takeda and contemporary art by Mimi Jung, Kristina Riska, Matthew King, and more will be on view.

Location: 151 Hudson St.

Read more: Check out the 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House

Continue reading NYCxDESIGN 2019 Event Calendar

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