The offices of the tech world's superstars share a design DNA written by Studio O+A. Studio O+A, based in San Francisco, are the designers behind the offices and headquarters of Facebook, AOL, Yelp, and Microsoft, just to name a few.
The secret to Studio O+A's success is how the firm understands the way tech companies, heavily young and creative, work. Facebook's eclectic, highly personalized Palo Alto office, for example, is the result of very close collaboration between the client and architect. In a presentation at the Savannah College of Art and Design, partner Primo Orpilla told the audience,
"Facebook discussed their goals with us. They didn't want a slide or a fireman's pole. They wanted an honest, down-to-earth look. These are people who spend a significant portion of their day living, working and creating in their space-they wanted the space to be eclectic."
To capture the young company's energy, Studio O+A designed hallways and paths wide enough for skateboards, a kitchen combined with a game room, and graphics cool enough to be co-opted by "The Social Network" movie. The designers also left a portion of the space unfinished so that it could be personalized by Facebook employees.
For the "How to" issue of Businesweek, Denise Cherry, the design director of Studio O+A, shares how to design for the modern workday. Corner offices, she says, are giving way to team spaces and meeting rooms because most tech executives prefer to sit among their teams. Less enclosed offices mean more flexible space. Cherry also observes tech firms want work environments that can easily adapt to nonwork functions.
"People spend much more of their day in their office than they do at home. It should be a place that you want to come to and that inspires you."
Tech companies aren't the only ones who can benefit from Studio O+A's collaborative design approach that emphasizes personalization. While more companies are watching tech and internet companies for clues to innovation, they might also look at how the offices are designed to encourage creativity and happier working environments.
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