Gone are the days when office design featured the barest minimum of décor and strictly uncomfortable surroundings: interior design has found a new outlet in some of the most awe-inspiring office spaces in the world, aiming at making the places workers spend most of their days comfortable and stimulating.
The modern office caters to users and guests alike, ensuring that the workers can perform their best and every part of the office is used. From stylised and themed boardrooms to indoor gardens and slides, these are five of the most awesome office spaces in the world.
Airbnb Headquarters, San Francisco
Airbnb is one of those internet start-ups whose fortuitous venture has gone from strength to strength. Founded in 2008, the community marketplace allows people from all over the world to list their accommodations for rental online, bringing unique and personal spaces to people travelling the globe on a budget or simply working in a strange city.
The company's headquarters in San Francisco boasts a highly-collaborative space, where there are no private offices and workers can choose where they want to work for the day. The result of a design collaboration between Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk and a specialist team from Gensler that spent four months immersed in the company experience, the office consists of many different spaces with their own theme and design - many based on actual Airbnb listings from all over the world. Every space's elements add to the open and inclusive feel of the office. There are special project and function rooms, such as a circular boardroom, an employee kitchen, and a special eating area that not only boasts a view of San Francisco's skyline but can be changed into an auditorium for multimedia presentations.
Corus Quay, Toronto, Canada
Corus Quay is the headquarters of Corus Entertainment, one of the most successful entertainment companies in Canada. Located in Toronto, the broadcasting company is known for a broad spectrum of offerings for television and radio, children's viewing and publishing, and even animation software.
Corus Quay is situated on the Toronto waterfront. The purpose of the massive revitalisation of a warehouse along the Eastern Bayfront was the consolidation of its 1,000+ employees to one location and also a bid to aid in refreshing the neighbourhood.
Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects' Jack Diamond, known for the Montreal Symphony House, Corus Quay embodies the company's culture of creativity and participation, with an open office design interspersed with functional spaces such as studios and performance areas. Natural, inspiring light flows in through the windows and into the employees' lives.
The building is also sustainable, employing energy-efficient lighting, water consumption, air filtration via a living wall, and power consumption. Recycled materials as well as material locally available were used in the building's construction.
Not only that, but the building aims to make work fun for the employees, with a super three-storey slide in the five-storey atrium to appeal to the child in everyone.
Google Zurich, Switzerland
Google can not only boast the conversion of a noun into a verb, but also has some of the most amazing office settings in the world, with every national office becoming envied for its interior design and odd touches, embodying the culture of the massive company.
Google's offices in Johannesburg, for example, won the International Green Interior Award for making sustainable use of local and recyclable goods. Staff members donated their old denims to upholster the chairs, old magazines were used for cladding, and things otherwise deemed as junk - such as old wheelbarrows - were turned into usable furniture.
Its engineering hub in Zurich, however, is at the top of the list. Inside the nondescript building, lively private and public spaces exist that are the envy of every employee who sits at their dreary desks every day, making googling 'Google Zurich' enough to put a smile on their faces.
Interior designers Camenzind actually interviewed employees, discovering that they required functional and neutral personal areas and fun, stimulating community areas. The result is a surreal mixture of game rooms with basketball and foozball, unique personal offices such as hammocks, fireman's poles between floors, gyms and massage rooms, and self-contained conference areas that resemble eggs, Swiss cable cars, or even a New York subway train car. There's even a library and a resting room with fish tanks and massage chairs for the more introverted worker.
One thing is for sure: Google deserves to have been voted amongst the best employers to work.
Comvert, Milan, Italy
Comvert is an alternative company focusing on clothing and boarding and was looking for the perfect space to showcase its company culture and house its employees. When it discovered an abandoned cinema, the large space was ideal for its plans as there was place for a shopfront, warehouse and all the offices. And the founders didn't let the massive overhead space dissuade them - they simply built an indoor skating rink that not only keeps staff entertained during their breaks but also speaks to their unique refinements.
Called the 'Bastard Bowl', the 600-foot bowl is suspended 18 feet about the floor. A balcony-style office overlooks the street-level shop.
Bahnhof Data Centre, Pionen, White Mountain, Sweden
The White Mountains Södermalm area of Stockholm, Sweden, is home to a former nuclear bunker called Pionen. The bunker was converted into a data centre by Sweden's ISP Bahnhof in 2008. The facility is still used today and was used in 2010 to store Wikileaks' servers.
Under 30 metres of granite, the nuclear shelter was converted into a stylish office area complete with greenhouses, fountains, a massive marine fish tank, and even simulated daylight. Office areas are filled with living plants collocated with cut granite walls, while a futuristic conference area hangs over the server hall.