Workplace for Everyone?

L for Living Office How to deal with the growing pains of a rapidly expanding business and still keep all the employees happy? A unique collaboration between the start-up Harry’s and Herman Miller is both an evolving workplace and an ongoing research project. At the turn of the millennium, Office Space became a cult classic […]

L for Living Office

How to deal with the growing pains of a rapidly expanding business and still keep all the employees happy? A unique collaboration between the start-up Harry’s and Herman Miller is both an evolving workplace and an ongoing research project.

At the turn of the millennium, Office Space became a cult classic film for its depiction of widespread antipathy toward standardized work spaces. Satirizing the operations— and spatial organization—of a tech company, the film shows banal office interiors as a catalyst for employee unhappiness. “Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day,” complains one protagonist. “We’re gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs into Storage B,” a company vice-president, the film’s villain, tells a subordinate. “We have some new people coming in, and we need all the space we can get.”

Harry’s, a shaving products company that does business online, is proof of how things have changed. The young start-up is implementing Herman Miller’s Living Office approach—a three-phase plan that contains myriad flexible work spaces and also accounts for the business’s rapid growth. “We’re going to expand the company dramatically over the next few years, both from the revenue perspective and also on a people basis,” explains COO Will Freund. After outgrowing four spaces in just over two years, the company recently moved into a 26,000-square-foot office in downtown Manhattan. The space will need to house twice its current staff of 80 by late 2016.

This is the sort of challenge that the Living Office was developed for. Though Herman Miller has long been a supplier of office furniture, Living Office was developed during the last five years to provide clients with comprehensive spatial solutions, not just desks and chairs. “It’s a process that informs how we put the products in your space,” explains James Cesario, a member of the growing team of Living Office specialists at Herman Miller. “It’s a way to do placemaking,” he adds, “to help companies make their office a vital tool.”

A Danskina rug and an Eames Walnut stool lend a cozy air to an area screened by Yves Béhar’s Public Office Landscape furniture (above). “We do a lot of one-on-one chats that we don’t need a conference room for,” says Scott Newlin, head of product design at Harry’s, so Béhar’s Social chairs come in handy.

In-house experts like Cesario engage with clients by using visual aids and terminology, tools created by a research team at Herman Miller to address a client’s present needs while planning for future expansion. Cesario explains that Living Office specialists ask a variety of questions to help clients “identify their company character, how they want to change that, and how that character is going to impact the way their space will get designed.” This “discovery process” uses a taxonomic breakdown of ten basic modes of work (including chat, contemplate, and create); ten various workplace settings (such as haven, clubhouse, and forum); and six key sources of motivation (security, autonomy, and belonging, for example) to begin synthesizing employees’ responses. Character traits are plotted onto a four-part chart, which is then plugged into a formula to generate an initial, abstract floor plan that shows how high-priority traits can be supported in the space. That floor plan is translated into an architectural document and specified with Herman Miller products to facilitate the kind of work employees will perform in a given area. The resulting office designs are “very specific to each organization,” says Cesario.

People keep personal belongings in these felt restore baskets, made by Muuto and available through DWR. Design moves of this kind came out of the rigorous Living Office process. Specialists used questionnaires and visual aids to help Harry’s transition out of its Union Square space. “We had gone from twelve people (who were already pretty cramped) to something like thirty,” Newlin says.

Herman Miller has been collecting quantitative and qualitative data about Harry’s since early autumn of last year, speaking with at least half the company’s employees during discovery meetings. When Harry’s moved into its Living Office System just before the winter holidays, the company had an interior fine-tuned to its employee preferences and managerial style. An executives’ table stands near the office entrance, to emphasize that anyone can approach the company heads. “We wanted to foster openness,” explains head of product design Scott Newlin, who led the office design process from the Harry’s side.

The graphic designers have their own area, with a Locale furniture system designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. The adjustable desks provide standing-height surfaces to display and discuss work. “This group does a fair amount of ‘Come over and check this thing out,’” Newlin says. “They’ll often pull the desks up and just have the whole crew come by.”

“Casual conversations are really helpful in our business,” he adds, and indeed, a survey of the office reveals several two- and three-person groups, huddled over laptops in problem-solving formation. Some sit at banquette-style tables facing one another, others sit on couches, others yet at tables—it’s impossible to ignore the sheer variety of activities occurring simultaneously within the space. Small and mid-size conference rooms are at the center of the office and separate two “halves” of the space: designers and engineers on one side and administrative and marketing teams on the other. Herman Miller worked with Harry’s staff to customize colors on worktables from the Public line of office furniture, and created custom-size editions of the Locale tables. Both systems support individual and group work, giving Harry’s an essential: flexibility.

Even now that move-in is finished, the process is far from complete. Phase II will involve rearranging and adding furniture to create additional seating for new employees. The HVAC system will be moved to the roof for phase III, and an in-office photo studio, among other amenities, will be built out in its place.

Though Herman Miller keeps ties with all Living Office clients after completion, Harry’s is one of very few that has become what the furniture company calls a “place lab.” Part of a research effort that runs for at least a year after phase I is completed, place labs work closely with Herman Miller’s team to study post-occupancy usage. “We’re going to continue the research as we expand, because that’s leading to better space utilization,” explains Newlin. He adds on an essential phrase, underscoring how both the goals and environments of company life have changed in the last two decades: “And to higher employee satisfaction.” —Anna Kats


M for Modularity

USM, a pioneer of modular furniture, takes on one of the sacred cows of office design with a provocative project.

Allan Wexler and the Parsons team displayed the power of modularity in language, which is constructed from single ideas coming together. The outside of this reading room makes each book a module—the building block for a library. On the inside, the book is broken down into the ideas it contains. 

Courtesy USM Modular

The kit-of-parts concept has always been essential to the modern office: Through the assembly and reassembly of individual components, creators can strike a balance between frameworks and flexibility, the stable and the ephemeral.

Five decades after Fritz Haller and Paul Schärer created the Haller system for USM, an icon of modular design, the furniture company explored the concept with fresh eyes with its Project50 initiative. Students and alumni from seven design and architecture schools around the world were invited to the Domaine de Boisbuchet in France to participate in an intensive master class and exhibition called Rethink the Modular. The schools formed teams around seven internationally renowned architects and designers, exploring modularity in critical and experimental ways at every scale.

In one of the projects, Wolf Mangelsdorf and the team from the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, worked toward developing a tool that enables architects to harness modularity in large-scale constructions. In another, Lorenzo Bini and students from the Politecnico di Milano turned to plants and nature for inspiration, while Allan Wexler took students and graduates from New York’s Parsons the New School for Design through the concept of books as modular objects.

Rethink the Modular formed part of an exhibition at the 2015 Milan Furniture Fair, curated by Tido von Oppeln and Burkhard Meltzer, and will be published in an anthology along with interviews and accounts of the project. —Estefanía Acosta de la Peña

N for Nature

Photography by Cait Oppermann

In the 1980s, office workers worldwide were reporting headaches, nausea, and fatigue while in the workplace, but the symptoms disappeared once they left the building. The cause of the complaints was linked to poor indoor-air quality from toxins in the office environment. In 1989, NASA famously tested the ability of houseplants to mitigate indoor pollutants. Some of the most efficient air cleaners it identified are also easy to take care of, which is lucky for us—recent studies continue to show that workers in offices with plants are happier in their jobs. —Christina Kelly, author of A Field Guide to Office Plants

O for Observation

The study makes sit-to-stand desks like Teknion’s Livello Counterbalance workstation-table all the more relevant. The desk allows for an easy switch between sedentary and standing positions, in line with Dr. Callaghan’s recommendations for frequent changes in position.

Courtesy Teknion

Officegoers today may agree that sitting for eight hours in an average workday is unhealthy, but so far few of the alternatives have been backed by hard facts. People are turning to standing and height-adjustable desks, but Teknion, a leading office furniture manufacturer, saw gaps in the information about the effects of these workstations. “Everybody knows that moving around and standing up is a good thing—just like exercising and eating the right things,” says Dannion Smith, director of ergonomic initiatives at Teknion. “But how should I do it? And how does it benefit me?”

Recently, Teknion funded a formal study to put workstations to the test. A team led by Dr. Jack Callaghan from the University of Waterloo in Canada compared discomfort and performance among sedentary, standing, and adjustable or sit-to-stand desks. The longitudinal study observed as people performed tasks—the workers were wired to infrared light-emitting diodes (IREDs) and electrodes, which allowed the team to correlate postures and movements to individual reports of pain. Over time, they confirmed anecdotal accounts that favored adjustable workstations.

But the more surprising find was that in an ideal scenario, people should spend three-quarters of their day standing, not sitting—that’s six hours out of an eight-hour workday. Before Dr. Callaghan’s results, the most common recommendations cited an inverse ratio—a largely sedentary day.

Sharing such information is as important as the desk itself. “Training made a huge difference in how people acknowledged the benefits of adjustability—and that’s half the battle,” Smith says. Some of this training could be delegated to a digital platform connected to the table—Teknion is unveiling such an app at NeoCon this year. The aim is to customize technology to meet needs across ages, experience, and capabilities. “Workstations need to become a little bit more personal,” Smith says. “Knowledge about your body gives you the power to control these things. To make people feel better, help them do their work better—that’s the dream of any ergonomist.” —Estefanía Acosta de la Peña

P for Pattern Language

Even though Phillip Low is based in New York, Michael McGinn first discovered his work on the website of an Australian art gallery. “I think my sculptures (or rather photographs of them) transfer well to textiles because essentially my work deals with light and color,” Low says.

Courtesy Dean Kaufman

Updating an icon is an intrepid process—how do you take something revered, beloved, and repeatedly referenced and give it a modern touch without removing its soul? For Susan Lyons, president of Designtex, it was a welcome challenge. When Coalesse and Carl Hansen & Søn approached her with a vision to develop a line of textiles that would adorn Hans Wegner’s iconic Wing chair, she turned to Michael McGinn of Brooklyn-based design consultancy Standard Issue for assistance. McGinn and his team proposed leveraging Designtex’s surface-imaging capabilities to develop a custom pattern that could be used on both upholstery and wallcoverings. But to do so, they would first need to find a pattern with imagery that respected the forms and size of the chair and could simultaneously function across wide swathes of wall in an interior space. The answer lay in the polychromatic, crystalline Lucite sculptures of artist Phillip Low.

“The interesting thing about Phillip’s work is that a single piece can feel entirely different from various vantage points,” says McGinn. “We loved the combination of intense saturated color and subtle gradients. And they became even more apparent after a photography session on our studio’s rooftop, in the middle of a cold, bright winter morning.” The team generated an entire library of images from six of Low’s sculptures, photographing each one from multiple angles to reveal the interplay of colors, textures, reflections, and refractions. “Phillip’s work is beautifully complex,” adds Lyons. “The shape and finishing of each sculpture defines the way the color and form is experienced. I love that the pieces are solid and ethereal at the same time.”

Once Standard Issue had sufficiently experimented with size, shape, and color, the resulting patterns were proofed and digitally printed. “The delicate translucency of the sculptures presented a challenge to our Portland printing facility,” says Lyons. “But our shop is run by artists, so there is always a profound dedication to capturing the intent of an artist’s work, and this was definitely the case in translating Phillip’s sculptures. The printed work exhibits extraordinary dimension and an uncanny fidelity to the color in each sculpture.” The completed textiles were then shipped to Denmark, where Carl Hansen & Søn’s master upholsterers took over, dealing with the complex task of wrapping the images around curves and corners. Finally, having passed through countless sets of hands from idea to fruition, the finished custom chairs will be exhibited at this year’s NeoCon fair. For Lyons, facilitating the collaboration between multiple creative parties was a pleasure. “We love to work this way,” she says. “Each person brings something to the conversation—it’s a creative ecosystem.” —Mikki Brammer

Low crafts his sculptures from colored acrylic sheets, which are then laminated onto acrylic blocks and milled into shape. To create different light effects with the colors, some sides are polished while others are left rough.

One of the challenges of the design process was to ensure the pattern would still function well when applied to the curved surfaces of the Wing chair.

Q for Quiet

Open-plan offices are great—until hearing a coworker on the phone sets your teeth on edge. Designers have been hard at work addressing this common complaint. From Plyboo panels made from bamboo to cocooning furniture like Arik Levy’s Platform— with the right mix of products, an office can be both peaceful and beautiful.


Woodworks Grille

Parentesit Wall Module by Lievore Altherr Molina

De Vorm
Living Pet Acoustic Animals by Lorenzo Palmeri


BuzziBox Wedge Wall Panels

 Frame Furniture by Ola Giertz

J+J Flooring Group
Umbra Stripe Flooring

Connection Zone Privacy Booth

Hush Lamp for IQ Commercial

Impressions Panels

R for Risk

What can we all learn from high-risk, high-pressure workplaces? Jeremy Myerson and Imogen Privett explain a portion of their groundbreaking study and share some insights.

Life of Work: What Office Design Can Learn From the World Around Us (Black Dog Publishing, 2015) was produced in partnership with Haworth and Philips Lighting. In their examination of extreme workplaces, the researchers first turned to air-traffic control rooms, such as this one at East Midlands Airport in the U.K.

Courtesy Imogen Privett

The popularity of teams has tended to outstrip our knowledge about them. Outside of health care and air-traffic control, detailed studies in organizational settings are still rare and multi-teamworking has been almost entirely neglected. The research that does exist reflects intense disagreements about what constitutes a team. This challenge is mirrored within organizations— we cannot just label a group of people a team because the title sounds motivating and productive, and then expect to see results.

Our case studies were chosen as examples of high-performance teams that could function successfully only by developing effective communication and teamwork processes. Air-traffic controllers were our first port of call. Analysis of air-traffic incidents found that failures in teamwork were a contributing factor—the U.S.-based National Transportation Safety Board found that 73 percent of incidents in its database occurred on a crew’s first day of flying together, before people had been given the chance to learn through experience how best to operate as a team.

Teamwork is also hugely important in hospitals, where there are typically multiple care disciplines involved in looking after any one patient. Our third “extreme team” came from the television newsroom, where we shadowed a daily news team. We chose this environment for the absolute reliance on communication and information transfer, with groups of people working in very different disciplines having to respond effectively to constantly changing inputs.

Although each extreme team was very different, we found common themes in all three areas, especially in terms of the physical environment.

Having access to all the necessary resources within their immediate workspace—whether tools, services, or information—was crucial. Everything needed to be accessible and easy to find. Each setting was tailored to specific needs, with systems and tools provided as appropriate. This included rest or breakout spaces where they could regroup and refresh after busy periods.

The relationships between the spaces were just as important as having the resources available. Related settings and services needed to have a strong physical link; overly long distances between frequently accessed spaces had a significant negative impact on the ability of medical teams to work efficiently.

With the potential for situations to change at a moment’s notice, all three teams needed to be able to sit down and just get on with the job, with no distractions from the task at hand. Being able to dock down quickly was also important, with quick, straightforward log-ins and clearly structured information handovers.

S for Smart Office

Connected office products need a course correction. It’s about collaboration, not personal needs, says Randy Howder, who leads Gensler’s technology practice area.

Courtesy NBC

It should be news to no one that our smartphones have changed how we spend time, relate to one another, and occupy physical space. Yet the vast majority of our workplaces remain outfitted for an older era. Conference phones at the centers of tables and desk phones in the corners of cubicles dominate the spaces we inhabit, living an uneasy parallel existence with the smartphones we cling to as we shuffle from meeting to meeting.

Even in bring-your-own-device offices, the dominant trends in workplace thinking endorse collaborative environments as the key to improving how organizations perform. Yet most recent developments in workplace technology have tended to focus on boosting individual effectiveness and mitigating the perceived deficiencies of the open-plan workplace.

Personal temperature control, height-adjustable desks, and a profusion of AV-equipped activity-based spaces are being deployed to increase the quality of individual focus. But despite digital way-finding devices, interactive room-reservation tablets, and videoconference units, our collaborative spaces are, at their core, just more numerous and distributed versions of the same conference rooms we had in the 1980s.

This is because most app development today focuses on devices that learn personal patterns of behavior, like your connected thermostat or fitness band. These innovations could have important workplace applications, but Gensler’s recent research with a large technology company shows that a focus on incremental improvements to individual work is perhaps misguided. Instead, increasing the quality and discipline around collaboration is more likely to pay huge dividends in transforming the way we work.

Much of the frustration and many problems that people experience in today’s workplaces, open-plan or not, happen through undisciplined interactions.

A lot of what constitutes individual work involves some degree of collaboration, with interspersed moments of problem-solving and communication with colleagues. Workers across vastly different industries indicate that only about 10 percent of their time is spent doing uninterruptible work. Forty-nine percent is spent doing work that could be and is interrupted by coworkers and others. The other 41 percent of time is spent collaborating, either spontaneously or in formal meetings. People often combine or toggle between focused and collaborative modes throughout the course of a typical workday.

So isn’t it time that we harness connected new technologies to make our meetings, and the spaces in which we conduct them, better? Perhaps our smartphones can help eliminate the universally unproductive 10-minute AV setup phase by getting participants ready to go before the meeting even starts. Or users’ devices could automatically reserve a space, set up the technology, connect remote participants, and ensure a timely wrap-up. 

Much of the frustration and many problems that people experience in today’s workplaces, open-plan or not, happen through undisciplined interactions. As the holographic “Gryzzl pad” from the final season of the television show Parks and Recreation illustrated, seamless digital paper connected to a personal device will someday eliminate obsolescent AV infrastructure and its associated panoply of dongles and adapters. Every surface in meeting rooms could become interactive and collaborative. And—as our research indicates—shorter, better, and more connected collaboration might make people more willing to put up with the occasional overheard conversation or interruption from a coworker.

T for Teamwork

A well-made table, like Datesweiser’s latest release, or group seating, such as Global’s River system, is invaluable for teamwork. But easy access to technology is essential too—which is why Herman Miller’s historic Chadwick seating now carries power.

Infinium Collection 

CER Cloud Edition

Highline Executive Mobile Table


Doug Mockett
PCS74 Hemisphere Power Grommet

River System

Cantilever Paper Table

Particles Seating

Workware Wireless Pro

Herman Miller
Chadwick Modular Seating

U for Unobtrusive

There was a time when modernizing a workplace meant incorporating as much vibrant color and pattern as possible to create a “fun” environment. But just as audio noise can prove distracting, so too can visual chaos.

To create a more calming environment, David and Cindi Oakey, the design team behind Interface’s new flooring designs, looked to the neutral palette of nature—and the notion of biophilia. “Color has the greatest influence on human behavior, and we have an innate desire to connect with nature,” says David. “We researched the terrain of coastal Northern California using colors of prairie grass, driftwood, and stone.”

Emulating wood-grain textures, the Near & Far carpet-tile collection (above) comes in eight neutral colorways. The Equal Measure collection—which launches alongside Near & Far at NeoCon—explores the intersection of the man-made and the natural in well-worn cobblestones. “Both collections address the question: How would nature design a floor?” Cindi says. “In nature, there is no sameness. These collections are dimensional, and they undulate from soft to firm underfoot.” As with all of Interface’s products, Near & Far and Equal Measure are made using 100 percent recycled nylon. Both collections can also be recycled at the end of their life cycles via Interface’s ReEntry program. —Mikki Brammer

V for Video

Virtual communication is a requisite part of workplaces in 2015, but for start-ups with employees scattered across cities—or countries—costly videoconferencing software isn’t always a realistic investment.

Tapping into the “plug-and-play” ease of innovations such as Apple TV, Highfive’s gentle price tag (at less than $800 per room) and aesthetic appeal have made its videoconferencing system a hit among young firms such as Harry’s. The technology eschews complicated cables, dongles, PIN codes, and software, functioning instead via a slim device that uses wireless projection to allow seamless video communication across any gadget with a screen via cloud-based service.

Once the device is connected to a flat-screen TV in a conference room, remote users can join the conversation via a smartphone app or e-mail link, while those in the room can take a call on their phone and then stream the video directly to the screen. The app also serves as a remote control for the content on the screen.

As long as there’s an Internet connection handy, everyone can join the conversation from wherever their “office” might be that day, whether it’s a café, a beach, or their bed. —Mikki Brammer

W for Wisdom

Charles and Ray Eames were master communicators. An anthology of their articles, film scripts, interviews, letters, notes, and speeches spanning four decades offers invaluable advice on how to work, Eames Office style.

All quotes taken from An Eames Anthology, Yale University Press, 2015

On the Psychology of Objects

There is also a psychological function present in the object, but we as yet do not know much about this. In any case an object should never betray its user. A chair that radiates an ostentatious cheerfulness and gaiety could let you down when you are depressed. This I call a betrayal.
Quoted in “‘Eames’: An Interview,” Algemeen Handelsblad, 1969

On Useless Things

One of the things that seems to be common among those who tend to not be miserable is the ability to have concern (for), get pleasure from, and respect objects, people, and things that are of no immediate value to them. Respect for the thing that isn’t going to pay off tomorrow. Because tomorrow’s problems are going to be different, and the things that come to your rescue are often the things you learn to respect when you had no idea they were going to be of value.
Quoted in Anthony G. Bowman’s article “The Designer as Renaissance Man,” Ameryka, October 19, 1971

On Disorganized Information 

Ours is a world so threaded with high-frequency interdependence that it acts as one great nervous system. It requires all the feedback controls man has devised to keep from oscillating itself out of existence. Examples of apparent information vary in complexity and degree. The telephone is a highly personal disorganized complexity. The controls that link airplane traffic and relate operations to weather are only practical to the degree that they are current and disorganized. In the operation of a processing plant or controls for a rocket, information in the form of signals must come in microseconds in order to be current. In communication even with a computer, the speed of light becomes too slow if the light is a bit too low. In problems of inventory and logistics, information can be slower but must remain current. A high percentage of the information possessed in our society would be meaningless if it were not current.
Royal Institute of British Architects 1959 Annual Discourse

A still shot of the house’s kitchen sink from the film House: After 5 Years of Living.

On Clients

When we’re considering a new project, the first question is: Is there a real, workable overlap between the client’s interests, our own interests, and our view of the interests of the community at large? If there is, then it’s in this area of overlapping interest that we can work comfortably. you can get into as much trouble by not thinking in advance about the client’s interests as you can by not thinking enough about your own.
Frank Nelson Doubleday Lecture, Smithsonian Institution, May 1977

On Winning Competitions

It’s really Eero’s trick, but I’m going to break a rule and reveal it. This is the trick, I give it to you, you can use it. We looked at the program and divided it into the essential elements, which turned out to be about 30 odd. And we proceeded methodically to make a hundred studies of each element. At the end we tried to get the solution for that element that suited the thing best, and then set that up as a standard below which we would not fall in the final scheme. Then we proceeded to break down all logical combinations of these elements, and we made one hundred studies of all combinations of these elements, trying to not erode the quality that we had gained in the best of the hundred single elements; and then we took those elements and began to search for the logical combinations of the combinations, and several of such stages before we even began to consider a plan. And at that point, when we felt we’d gone far enough to consider a plan, worked out study after study and on into the other aspects of the detail and the presentation.

It went on, it was sort of a brutal thing. It was a two-stage competition and sure enough we were in the second stage. Now you have to start; what do you do? We reorganized all elements, but this time, with a little bit more experience, chose the elements in a different way (still had about 26, 28, or 30) and proceeded; we made 100 studies of every element; we took every logical group of elements and studied those together in a way that would not fall below the standard that we had set. And went right on down the procedure. Before the second competition drawings went in, we really wept, it looked so idiotically simple that we thought we’d sort of blown the whole bit. And won the competition. This is the secret, and you can apply it.
Quoted in Ralph B. Caplan’s book By Design (Fairchild, 2005).

The Aluminum Solar Energy toy, designed for the Alcoa Collection

On Playfulness

There is a certain relationship between playfulness and art, and there is a relation between playfulness and science, too. When we go from one extreme to another, play or playthings can form a transition or sort of decompression chamber—you need it to change intellectual levels without getting a stomachache.
Quoted in James B. O’ Connell’s article “A visit with Charles Eames,” in Think 27, April 1961.

On Genius

The genius baloney is just a lot of work. An incredible amount of things go wrong all the way.
Quoted in Charles Davenport’s article “Chairs, Fairs, and Films,” Los Angeles, January 1962.

X for Xtra Large

Google’s proposed new headquarters is less a giant campus and more a new neighborhood. BIG’s Kai-Uwe Bergmann comments on the collection of lightweight structures.

Courtesy Google

Silicon Valley has been an engine of innovation driving technological evolution and global economy. so far the majority of these vast intellectual and economical resources have been confined to the digital realm—Google North Bayshore expands this innovative spirit into the physical realm.

Together with Heatherwick Studio and Google, we have set out to imagine the work environments of future Googlers to be as adaptable, flexible, and intelligent as the rest of Google’s wide-spanning portfolio. Larry Page and Google have been among the most demanding and exciting clients we have collaborated with. Rather than an insular corporate headquarters, Google North Bayshore will be a vibrant new neighborhood of Mountain View.

Y for Yesterday's Offices

Andreas Gehrke’s photographs of vacant German office campuses are documented in three recent publications from Drittel Books. This one is from IBM Campus, 1972–2009, Stuttgart-Vaihingen.

Photography by Andreas Gehrke

Light filters through slatted blinds, half-open doors afford glimpses of adjoining spaces, bright corridors and clean-lined interiors offer an air of somber concentration. Silent and empty but for a few unwanted items left behind in the move, these once bustling spaces now wait forlornly for new occupants.

With his series on vacated headquarters, Berlin-based photographer Andreas Gehrke takes a dispassionate look at dormant business premises, including a tower block built for Hamburg news magazine Der Spiegel (1963–1969, by architect Werner Kallmorgen), the old IBM Germany offices in Stuttgart-Vaihingen (1967–1972, Egon Eiermann), and the HQ of now-defunct mail-order firm Quelle in Nuremberg (1955–1967, Ernst Neufert). Formerly home to firms that helped shape the economic, cultural, and political landscape of postwar Germany, the buildings are also notable examples of German Modernist architecture. —Christine Dissman

From the volume Der Spiegel, 1963–2011, Brandstwiete, Hamburg (Drittel Books, 2014), these images show the former canteen famously designed by Verner Panton with colorful wall panels (above) and a swimming pool (below).

Quelle Versand, 1956– 2009, Nürnberg (Drittel Books, 2014) shows the exterior (above) and interior (below) of Germany’s biggest mail-order catalog company and one of the largest department store chains. Bauhaus alumnus Ernst Neufert designed the building.

Z for Zzzz's

Very few people get their recommended eight hours of sleep every night, so the final strategy to boost productivity might be to let people take naps. The likes of google and Nike can afford to have designated nap rooms; for the rest of us, the Ostrich Pillow Mini might be just the right size for some desktop snoozing.

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