These days, a number of large companies have realized the importance that design plays in the workplace. Everything from furniture and lighting to layout and zoning has an effect on employee creativity, collaboration and, ultimately, productivity. Offices no longer need be uninspiring environments with drab furnishings and walls, designed merely as functional sites where staff get the job done until they punch out.
Google and Red Bull are just two companies that have led the way when it comes to creating inspirational workplaces, installing slides and other fun elements to ensure employees enjoy their working day a little more. In a slightly different manner, the following ten companies have used glass in remarkably imaginative ways, resulting in work interiors that are playful and quite stunning to behold.
10. Arquia – Bilbao, Spain
Founded in March 1983 by several Spanish architectural groups, Arquia is a monetary foundation "specializing in the financial problems of architects." For its Bilbao office in the Spanish province of Biscay, Arquia turned to Madrid-based architectural firm NO.MAD. Completed in 2008, the beautifully lit glass office space takes up the basement and ground floors of an already established building in downtown Bilbao. According to NO.MAD, the idea was "to generate an atmosphere related to the concept of transparent banking." The borosilicate glass tubing allows sufficient natural light to permeate the office while separating staff and clients in a way that's open and fosters trust. Plus, the overall effect is one of elegance and sophistication.
9. Grauforz – Monterrey, Mexico
Established in 2009, Grauforz is a Mexican steel by-products company with several offices around the world. With the business expanding, in 2012 Grauforz approached Mexican brand specialists Anagrama to help with rebranding the company – including their business cards, hardhats and the interior space of their offices. Anagrama's goal was "to communicate strength with a modern feel," and the new-look workplace does exactly that. As well as using steel and wood – the latter for a "warm human touch" – the clean, friendly layout features a series of stylishly numbered glass conference rooms that make a strong impression. Explaining the effect the new office and rebrand had on the family business, Anagram wrote, "Grauforz is [now] able to position itself as a world-class company."
8. MoneyPark – Zurich, Switzerland
MoneyPark is a Swiss financial company that specializes in mortgages and investment. In 2012 the company worked with Zurich-based architecture and design firm OOS, who transformed the interior of MoneyPark's Zurich office into an enchanting glass-lined "woodland." The workspace is fun and cheerful, looking almost more like a child's playroom than an office dedicated to finance. The glass partitions are covered with green drapes and hemmed by wooden tree-shaped motifs, and the design is simple yet effective, combining privacy with playfulness. It must be a delightful place in which to spend the working day – even when the number crunching takes its toll. What's more, sizable windows fill the space with daylight, which enhances the overall effect beautifully. Interestingly, according to color psychologist Angela Wright, the color green is "great to use around anywhere money's changing hands."
7. Macquarie Group – Sydney, Australia
Global investment banking and finance company the Macquarie Group's stunning Sydney office was designed by American firm Clive Wilkinson Architects. Completed in 2009, the financial company's impressive Australian headquarters is hip, modern and cheerful – which, as was the aim, is bound to boost employee creativity and collaboration. Possibly the standout design features here are the numbered glass meeting boxes and boardrooms, which are suspended throughout the interior in a futuristic, playful and seemingly haphazard manner. This unconventionally conceived office is decorated with bright colors, and the overall space is dedicated to boosting imagination, teamwork and a sense of community. The building's glass atrium fills the office with natural light, complementing the vibrant tones, clean layout and airy workspaces perfectly.
6. Nykredit – Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen-based Nykredit is another leading financial services business with an impressive, stylish and creatively conceived headquarters. Described as a "transparent cube," the breathtaking ten-level office building was designed by international architectural firm schmidt hammer lassen and was completed in 2001. That same year, the building won The Architecture Prize of the Municipality of Copenhagen, and then in 2002 it received an FX International Interior Design Award for Best Office Building. Most notably, the naturally lit office features a trio of suspended meeting pods, which look out onto the rest of the space through large glass walls and windows. Glass elevators and dividing walls also add to the sense of roominess and light. And to further spark the imagination, the building is filled with the work of well-known artists, including a mural by Norwegian artist Olav Christopher Jenssen that is 98 feet long.
5. IBM Software Executive Briefing Center – Rome, Italy
In 2010 IBM Italy's Rome-based Software Executive Briefing Center was re-imagined by Italian firm Iosa Ghini Associati. Designer Massimo Iosa Ghini called the incredible looking finished project "a new agora." The building is shared with IBM Italy's Software Lab – one of Europe's biggest IBM laboratories – and the briefing center uses high-tech innovations to, in the words of Iosa Ghini, "take people away from the traditional concept of communication." The interior is filled with glass surfaces, curved walls, interactive panels and cool lighting, making the office look highly futuristic – sure to wow any visitors while simultaneously reflecting IBM's forward-thinking outlook. "A cool office space can and should reflect a company's culture," Samantha Zupan from recruitment community Glassdoor has explained. "It can be a sense of pride for employees and an attractive selling point to recruits."
4. Burges Salmon – Bristol, U.K.
Prominent Bristol–based law firm Burges Salmon's beautiful glass meeting rooms and offices aren't just stunning to look at; they're functional as well. Architectural firm Stride Treglown was selected to construct the building, while interior design group ID:SR was responsible for the fit-out. Due to the importance of confidentiality in legal conversations, Burges Salmon's new office space required a certain amount of acoustic privacy. Hence, ID:SR turned to British partitioning specialists Optima. Single glazing was sufficient for the regular office floors, but the executive office level was fitted with a customized version of Optima's Revolution 97 double-glazing system. LED lighting was added to finish the look. The building was completed in 2011 – the same year it won a BCO Regional Commercial Workplace Award – and the offices have been given an "excellent" rating by BREEAM.
3. Monitise – London, U.K.
When leading global mobile money specialist Monitise needed a new office in London, the company approached U.K. workplace and design experts Morgan Lovell. Monitise took up residence in 2013, and the sleek office space includes futuristic looking glass meeting rooms, secluded "quiet rooms," and arty yellow, blue and gray colored glass partitions – which seem more like a Piet Mondrian painting than the dividing walls of a financial institution. The idea was to provide an open-plan layout while replicating the feel of a "luxury boutique hotel." The workspace also features a stylish glass innovation center with whiteboards and standup tables for quick meetings, while elsewhere an atrium allows natural light to enter. According to Angela Wright, the color yellow boosts self-confidence, whereas blue can help productivity. Perfect hues for a work environment, then.
2. SOHO China – Shanghai, China
Major real estate developer SOHO China's futuristic new rentable Shanghai offices almost look like something out of 2012 zombie movie Resident Evil: Retribution. Designed by local firm AIM Architecture, the jaw-dropping project was completed in 2013, and according to the architects, "The full glass approach allows us to create a complexity that emerges from a simple choice." The mirrored walls and glass partitions make the building appear practically maze-like, while the office's glass floors and visible ventilation ducts add a chic, ultra modern element. "As SOHO rents out the offices in this building in bare shell state, the main design idea is to show the customers what they are actually getting and simultaneously add a layer of luxury," explained AIM Architects.
1. 21 Cake – Beijing, China
Completed in 2012, the interior of 21 Cake's stunning new Beijing headquarters uses glass walls and partitions to engender a mood that's bright and playful – which no doubt suits the popular luxury cake company perfectly. Beijing's People's Architecture Office designed the workplace, and the firm cleverly layered red, blue and yellow colored glass to produce a full array of shifting hues. A large atrium complete with a skylight allows in natural light that – combined with the artificial light – bounces off the walls and partitions to create a lively, rainbow-like atmosphere that must make going to work a treat. Another fun element is the office furniture: each item is shaped like a jigsaw puzzle piece, allowing staff to assemble working areas as they wish, for increased flexibility.