For the corporate office design at Hilton Singapore, Space Matrix looked at hospitality trends for inspiration

11 workplace design concepts in Asia you need to see

11 workplace design concepts in Asia you need to see

As 2019 comes to an end, we look forward to not just a new year, but also the beginning of a brand new decade. The last few years saw a marked change in the way people work and subsequently, the workplace design trends they sparked off. So to trace these changes, here’s our roundup of the office design concepts that really made an impression over the last couple of years.

1. Hilton, Singapore — bringing hospitality and the experience economy into design

Marking its 100th year in the hospitality sector, Hilton launched a brand new corporate space in Singapore in 2019. Unlike just any other office space, this new workplace was designed to reflect some of the biggest changes in the industry. One of the main evolutions in the sector has been the rise of the experience economy. From the rooms they stay in to the breakfast they have in the morning, tourists today seek a memorable experience in every aspect of their holiday.

This trend is effectively translated in Hilton’s office space in Singapore. Employees here can choose to sit in the work café, have a brainstorming session on the step seating area or work on a presentation while enjoying a 180-degree view of the Singapore skyline. When they get hungry, they can grab some fruits and juices from the healthy snack bar or head to the buffet station for a hot meal. There is a barista always at hand to whip up a frothy cappuccino or serve up a cold brew. With luxurious surprises at every turn, this office design concept turns a regular workday into an experience worthy of being documented on one’s social media feed.

2. Northern Trust, Pune — exploring inclusivity with multi-sensory design

The modern workspace seeks to build an inclusive work culture, and this is reflected in the way spaces are designed. Fostering wellness and inclusivity is exactly what Northern Trust Pune’s multi-sensory workplace strategy is all about.

Every nook of the office has been designed to appeal to multiple senses. Collaboration areas and work zones are given an energetic vibe with a warm colour palette, cluster seating and lots of greenery. Meeting rooms and conference spaces, on the other hand, tend to have a charged atmosphere — so cool colours, soothing lights and acoustic panels have been used to create a calm, peaceful atmosphere. The variegated colours, textures and acoustic qualities help differentiate the purpose of each space. But more importantly, since there is no over-reliance on one particular sense, the office ends up being easy to navigate even for those who are differently-abled. For instance, someone who is visually impaired can easily find their way around, based on the different acoustic, olfactory and kinaesthetic cues. Tactile flooring, braille signages, and braille-inspired artwork further exemplify how modern office design can be more empathetic and inclusive.

3. CapitaLand Ascendas Plaza Bridge+, Shanghai — innovating in the coworking sector

The rise of coworking and flexible working spaces, perhaps, have been one of the biggest changes we have seen over the past few years. The CapitaLand Ascendas Plaza Bridge+ is a fantastic example of how a coworking design concept can still be surprisingly innovative in a crowded marketplace.

Converted from a retail mall, this coworking space makes optimum use of the building’s existing structure. The office surrounds an open void area — a feature typical of malls. In a coworking space, this void adds that wow factor, and helps set CapitaLand Bridge+ apart. Stunning curved staircases bridge the void, connecting the two opposite sides of the office. With unenclosed lounges, step seating areas and glass-walled workspaces, the concept of openness is carried forward throughout the office. The sleek white and neutral colour palette adds to the uninterrupted design flow of the space.

4. Diginex, Hong Kong — highlighting brand values with the help of technology

From maintaining security protocols to connecting people with colleagues halfway around the world, workplace technology has come a long way. For a global fintech firm like Diginex, innovative use of technology can be a powerful way to display the brand’s expertise in the sector and set themselves apart as an industry leader in Hong Kong.

That’s exactly what its new office in Hong Kong is designed to do. As soon as one steps in, one is wowed by the animated video showcasing the brand story. But unlike any other brand, Diginex does not use a television screen to play their company video. Instead, it projects it onto the curved, 15-metre-long wall behind the reception area, turning the entire surface into a tech screen. The automatic sliding glass door at the main entrance and the electric plug door found deeper within the office are two other features that give the space a futuristic feel. Further enhancing the sci-fi vibe is the fact that some of these automatic doors are the first of their kind in Hong Kong.

5. 1880, Singapore — inspiring conversations that can change the world

The idea behind 1880 was conceived by Marc Nicholson, who was inspired by the aesthetics and business model of London’s Soho House in the ‘90s. 1880 is meant to provide a space where people from different walks of life can partake in constructive dialogue. The interiors of the space are hence built around the themes of convergence, contrast, creativity, energy and flow and versatility.

And what better way is there to spark conversation between patrons than with a big crystal centrepiece sourced from Madagascar? The piece encapsulates the notion of articulating conversation through art. 1880’s sleek decor has been crafted by Timothy Oulton Studio and it certainly manages to provide a great ambience for creative and exploring minds to relax and connect with each other.

6. Eaton Club, Hong Kong — creating spaces for work and relaxation

Eaton Club’s new fintech hub and social work club in Hong Kong is a truly unique co-working space. Its members can work and network, whilst enjoying a private members’ lounge that includes a bar and pantry.

This hybrid design concept where work and relaxation co-exist has been made possible with a work area that can be converted into an events space. Most of the furniture – chairs, desks and bar tables – are on wheels, and can be moved around easily. The special feature of a 15-meter-long wooden bar countertop, combined with the deep brown leather wall behind the bar further adds to the luxurious look. Carpet-lined floors also give the space a wide-open feel.

7. Bridge+, Singapore — looking at work-life balance through a new design lens

Bridge+ is a new community workspace in Singapore by CapitaLand, Asia’s largest business space planner. Bridge+ is meant to promote a culture of work communities. Visitors and patrons are immediately inspired to explore upon arrival, thanks to large interactive media screens in the lobby.

Flexible workspaces consist of standing workstations, informal amphitheatres and seating areas. These workspaces are entwined with recreational zones that allow for collaboration in a relaxed setting. Work-life quality is therefore immensely improved and patrons can not only have access to a workspace but can also a host of other services.

8. Microsoft, Taipei — expressing cultural heritage at the workplace

Microsoft wanted its 75,000 sq ft office in Taiwan to encapsulate a new approach to design that would humanise technology. Its “Formosa” theme reflects Taiwan’s rich heritage, and several cultural references have been incorporated into design elements. Flashy signs and wall paintings, for example, are reminiscent of Taiwan’s night markets.

In order to accommodate a range of functions, formal and informal spaces have been introduced so that employees can have the best of both worlds. These spaces include a mix of seating options and surface heights to cater to different working styles. The use of greenery and communal spaces also helps to create a homely atmosphere that is immediately apparent to visitors.

9. Prudential, Singapore — encouraging employee engagement through workplace strategy

Prudential in Singapore recently undertook a revamp of its office space in order to provide an environment that is open and promotes collaboration on-the-go. The open concept encourages trust and accountability, as shared spaces are meant to be kept clean and immaculate. To create tranquil settings for employees to carry out discussions, a Zen garden and other nature-inspired elements were also introduced.

Innovation is key here. Unique elements of the space include a large video wall where events can be live-streamed and a  cocoon-like structure consisting of four massive timber domes that house a barista and various collaboration spaces. There is a water-feature tunnel that creates a calm ambience and adds to the biophilic appeal of the space.

10. RBL, Gurgaon — housing multiple brands through micro neighbourhoods

In this globalised economy, it is not uncommon for multiple brands and flagship teams to be housed under a parent company. For firms like this, a homogeneously branded office space may not be the best solution. RBL’s workspace in Gurgaon tackles this challenge effectively with a practical update to open offices. It divides the space into smaller micro neighbourhoods to cater to the needs of the diverse teams working there.

Each of these micro neighbourhoods has a unique vibe and function. Some have a modern, minimalistic vibe with sleek white booths and accent walls. Others flaunt the timeless appeal of a jazz club with Art Deco furniture and antique-inspired pieces. While some micro neighbourhoods are designed for focussed work and private discussions, others encourage widespread collaboration with a buzzing, café-like atmosphere. This differentiated workplace strategy is an innovative way to minimise disruption and make each team feel at home.

11. BrowserStack, Mumbai — designing meeting spaces for all kinds of work

With collaboration becoming an important part of the work culture for many companies, office design evolves to cater to this shift. A formal boardroom or two are no longer enough — offices today need to make space for spontaneous interactions and water-cooler conversations too.

BrowserStack’s Mumbai office does this very successfully, with six different kinds of collaboration spaces. The smallest of all are the single-person phone booths. Equipped with comfy seats and tables, these snug spaces are ideal for private calls and phone conferences. For casual face-to-face conversations, there are informal meeting booths done up in bright colours, soft lighting and comfy cushions. Then there is the much larger step seating area, located at the heart of the office. This functions as a chic alternative space to work from — so it brings together people from different teams, who may ordinarily never have interacted. For planned meetings, the office has brainstorm zones and informal meeting spaces where entire teams can gather for longer discussions. And of course, there are formal conference rooms too, which are designed for management meetings, client discussions and confidential conversations regarding sales and company goals.

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