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Nov 09

10 Inspiring Non-Traditional Workspaces [PICS]

Note from Jimmy Hua: A person’s workspace says something about the company. The workspace is itself a brand of the company and the way you organize it and design, promotes different things. Below are nice and interesting workspaces that are very not traditional. But, in the tech world, it is what draws people in because of what it says about their culture.

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Spirit-breaking, gray cubicles and dismal staff lounges with bad asymmetrical wall art are thankfully starting to become a thing of the past as more companies are realizing that a little style can go a long way, both for productivity and company morale.

Whether it’s colorful decor, a unique venue, fun additions, or even an outdoor workspace, the companies included in our gallery understand that by creating an inspiring workplace, they are more likely to end up with an inspired staff.

Have a look through the images below and let us know which unusual workspace you wouldn’t mind commuting to.

1. Bahnhof’s Underground Data Center

Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof was looking for a secure facility, and boy did they find one. An old nuclear bomb shelter bunker, built 30 meters underground in the side of a mountain, did the trick.

The Pionen facility in Stockholm, accessed through foot-thick steel doors, looks like you’ve stepped on to the set of a James Bond flick, but is said to have been inspired by old sci-fi films.

2. Bahnhof’s “Moon Room”

The building’s stand-out feature is what Bahnhof calls the “moon room” – a glass-walled, circular room, suspended over the rock floor, which is said to be the “perfect conference room.” You can see more of the Pionen complex on YouTube.

3. Threadless’s Airstream Trailer Studio

You might have expected community-centered t-shirt company Threadless to have an interesting workspace, and you would be right. Above is the company’s Airstream trailer studio where Kristen Studard and Bob Nanna broadcast a live show on Ustream every Thursday from its Chicago headquarters.

The cat head, you ask? Well that’s “Mister Mittens,” and he was part of the Threadless float created for the 2010 Chicago Pride Parade.

4. Threadless’ “Crafty Lodge” Customer Service Area

What? Your office doesn’t have a mounted, stuffed unicorn head on the wall? With a setup like this, it really shouldn’t be too hard to keep a smile on your face, which is perfect for dealing with incoming customer service queries.

The design you see here is the result of an inter-office competition where each Threadless office area was given a budget and deadline to beautify their work environment.

The customer service department went with the theme of “Crafty Lodge” and won. To see more from Threadless, you can check out their pic-a-day 365 photostream.

5. The Candy Factory’s Coworking Space

As more people enjoy greater flexibility in their worklife, coworking, or communal office space is becoming more popular.

Located in Lancaster, PA, The Candy Factory is a membership community of small business owners, freelancers, students and other professionals looking for a cool downtown location to work in the company of like-minded folks.

With the philosophy of “Come together, do good work, care about our community, love our earth, think local and grow as professionals,” it’s a spirited communal office space where no day is the same.

6. The Candy Factory’s Fun Side

While the working space is light and open with high ceilings, wooden floors, great art and contemporary furniture, there’s also space to take a break at The Candy Factory, with a foosball table offering a cathartic way to thrash a co-worker — very therapeutic indeed.

7. Junk My Car’s Mannequin Receptionist

His name is Sven, and he was rescued from a crash test facility, says Robert Bari, Junk My Car’s director of marketing. “He is quite reserved and often keeps to himself, which may be due to a language barrier, but we’re not sure,” he says.

Seriously though, Bari says when the company moved into its new office in Shelton, CT over a year ago they thought a mannequin sitting at the reception desk would be an amusing way to deal with solicitors.

“Nothing is more hilarious than seeing the startled face of a sales person after they walk over and begin talking only to realize it’s a dummy,” he says.

And since the company doesn’t have a formal receptionist, Sven has found a home, as the first face visitors see when arriving.

8. Professor Daddy-O’s Digital Sound Cockpit

Music producer Professor Daddy-O, of Stetsasonic fame, spends his working days perched in front of this rather impressive setup. With a separate power source and 96 wheels, the “digital sound cockpit,” as Daddy-O calls it, can be found at Studioplex Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

9. Raw Material at The Village Underground

Brand-building public relations company Raw Material set up shop in one of the old Tube carriages parked atop East London’s Village Underground venue, an old Victorian warehouse that hosts art exhibitions, gigs, club nights and raves.

10. Raw Material’s Tube Office

The train offices were the brainchild of designer Auro Foxcroft, who wanted to create low-cost studios for creatives. The setup is comprised of four old Tube carriages on top of two old sea containers, also converted into workspaces.

11. The brpr Group’s Chalkboard Welcome Door

The office entrance of Miami-based brand management agency brpr Group is covered in chalkboard paint. The message changes periodically, courtesy of the company’s resident artist, who creates signature welcome greetings for all client meetings and guests, along with a QR code.

12. Outdoor Conference Room at the brpr Group’s Office in Miami

brpr also boasts an outdoor conference room wired for phone and Internet access, which is also complete with amenities like sunblock and Perrier to beat the Miami heat. The idea for the room comes from the agency’s creators, who are not natives of Miami and therefore excited by the prospect of meetings in the sun. Apparently, the space is a big hit with brpr Group’s NYC clients — and come December, we can understand why.

13. Grip Limited’s Big Orange Slide

The big orange slide is the focal point of Grip Limited’s “open-concept work space,” and is said to “embody the sense of play that’s at the heart of Grip’s creative process.” It’s certainly a fun way to get from one floor to another, but arguably not the Toronto-based company’s most entertaining, as there is also a fireman’s pole that provides another gravity-driven shortcut.

14. Grip Limited’s Hot Tub

Grip Limited’s playfulness does not stop with unusual methods of mobility. There’s also a hot tub on the premises for what must make for some really outstanding staff meetings.

“The hot tub-inspired meeting space puts the face-to-face in face time,” says copywriter Ian Mackenzie. “It’s a great place for quick regroups or brainstorms. And while there’s not always beer, there’s always someone in a towel.”

15. Hemingway’s Outdoor Office

In the summer months, British design gurus Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, of Red or Dead fame, work from an outdoor office in Middlesex, UK. The teepee is made from reclaimed wood (including old British Telecom telegraph poles) and features a communal desk on the ground floor with seating set into the decking.

16. Paul Coudamy’s Cardboard Office

Parisian architect Paul Coudamy was challenged to convert a vast, empty industrial space for agency Elegangz on a minimal budget.

As the agency encompassed an advertising company, a web agency, an event team and a music label, they wanted to cheaply create different areas within the open space for the different activities. Coudamy’s clever and somewhat unconventional solution was to use 4-centimeter thick water resistant honeycomb cardboard to separate the spaces.

(Photo by Benjamin Boccas)

17. Paul Coudamy’s Cardboard Furniture

In Coudamy’s office, shelves are made of stacked pieces of cardboard — the cardboard partitions can be moved, and the “meeting cabin” is held together with glue and tape.

The lighting for the space is provided by old white lighting umbrellas, hung upside down to diffuse the light. It’s an unusual and very affordable way to divide up the open space, and it provides a cool, industrial setting for a contemporary agency.

(Photo by Benjamin Boccas)


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