Meeting a space could change a person and their life just like meeting another person could. It’s also true about work space. The way it accepts you and makes you feel is what sets the delicate difference between a successful office and an unsuccessful one. How we will call this feature of the work space – a friendly attitude or hospitality – is a matter of choice. We usually associate hospitality with hotels but an office in a modern and future-oriented understanding of it cannot do without it. Hospitality brings out the best in a person, making them feel comfortable (too bad that this precious word has also turned into a cliché), giving food to all of their senses, imparting a sense of meaning. In the previous topic of the month “Distribute and Conquer”, we outlined the 10 types of areas which, in different configurations, are to be found in the space patchwork of a successful modern office. Each of them should have a different impact on the senses and create a feeling of comfort through a different mechanism.
As we now, nostalgically, reflect on the times of white cotton curtains blown in the sea breeze, the turquoise bays and the freshness of summer cocktails, we also recall the very successful hospitality formula of our favourite Greek hotel in Vourvourou – Ekies All Senses Resort and Design Hotel. What does this hotel have to do with office space, you might say. Nothing to do with office space but with the idea of distribution and areas, with the idea of creating different “stages” which inspire and “direct” different behaviours, with the idea of spontaneity which makes designer classics naturally acquire the cracks of days while they co-exist carelessly with local traditions, with the idea of inspiring freedom – this hotel is an excellent example of how an office space could achieve and express its hospitality in its totality of different areas.
The Ekies Hotel is a collage of a sort made up of areas with different degrees of isolation and social features, smoothly flowing into and out of spaces which are in perfect alignment to the different configurations of different numbers of people and which perfectly co-exist together. It’s one effect on the senses if you spend the morning on the balcony in the Penthouse Suite hot tub – you enjoy all at once the isolation, the fantastic view from above and the open horizons to the bay and the islands with the feeling that you are floating above the sparkling blue. It’s a different effect if you are by the Evergreen Suite private pool, feeling comfortably and intimately tucked in the small space behind the partitions of rugs which imprint their shades on the Mediterranean blue and white floor (even this detail gives you pleasure and bliss). And it’s quite a different feeling if you are by the hotel pool – an area of a different nuance, more open and more social. It’s a different emotion and cosiness when you are having dinner at the Bubo Restaurant, at the Treehouse Restaurant or on the beach (the three options are offered by the hotel). The three options engage the senses in different ways and direct the emotions in different paths – be it to a dish, the crashing of the waves or the softness of the sand, be it to the lanterns flashing as fireflies in the tree branches. In a similar way, the Living Room, the Think Tank, the Town Hall, the Shelter, the War Room and so on … or the areas in a modern office with different degrees of isolation or social nature and for different configurations of people should engage the senses and emotions each in a different way and, from then on, activate creativity in different ways.
Stay hungry, stay foolish
An IT company office. The owner, someone with experience and knowledge of design, chooses an authentic industrial space, a former printing house, raw and expressive, as the seat of the new company. The owner is aware of the wealth brought in by the layers of past in their interaction with contemporary design and their impact on emotions and creativity. Moving glass panels set up the new areas. Recognisable brand furniture creates different nooks of nuanced atmospheres – from business to carelessly artistic and bohemian. The dialogue between the raw space, the comfort of furniture, the beauty of the design objects and the sparing flashes of traces of the past (found under the plaster removed and among the piles of rubbish left from what used to be a printing house) creates the unique emotion and warm human hospitality of this modern office. It is complemented with the aroma of good coffee and raw nuts, the natural beauty of flowers and fruit bowls, the simple freshness of glass pitchers of filtered tap water (along with everything else, they are a metaphor of the minimalist vision and its lively impact on the spirit and the body). All this gradation – from exposing the past of the space to the glass pitchers of fresh water – casts a delicate emotional net and turns the office into a hub of creativity and friendly attitude.
A publishing house office. The choice of work tables and chairs is indicative of good knowledge of ergonomy combined with an impeccable taste in design. The distribution of the areas follows the former space configuration (the house is a monument of culture with a spacious yard in the heart of the city) and combines contemporary furniture of recognizable brands with antique highlights. In such a place, the feeling of hospitality is naturally fed by the loads of albums and books of design, architecture and fashion which are piled onto shelves and desks. And it’s not only this. Pictures and statuettes of Bulgarian artists and prints from global museums carelessly hoisted up against the walls intensify the invisible yet invaluable atmosphere playing on all senses and emotions which makes the office a successful creative space. The yard, an oasis of large trees, is structured as a projection of the publishing house under an open sky – different areas are set up on the large wooden platform – more isolated or more social, for independent or team work. It’s easy for these areas to be configured in different ways in line with the specific work needs and for the space to turn into an event or party place. Add the bunches of fresh lavender, the large wooden box of different blends of tea, the exotic china set and the pots of green plants and the office idea gets its emotional maturity and completeness. These details impart a new meaning both to the space and the design in it. And they are an inspiration for work.
To summarise all of the above – a modern office would welcome its residents if the clever distribution of the space goes together with a special attention to those layers and elements which create emotional connections, positive feelings, a sense of joy and cosiness. These could be connections with the past of the building, works of art, decorations (by Arper, Lasvit…), surprising design highlights (contrasting in terms of style, having a definitive art of extravagant feel – by … ), fresh flowers in vases and fruit bowls (by Kartell… ), a pitcher of filtered tap water… Because hospitality is not only a value to hotels but to any space which wants to attract, retain and inspire talent. And isn’t it the most important thing about an office?
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