Thanks to giants like Google and Apple, Silicon Valley companies have a reputation for having some of the coolest offices in the world, complete with nifty in-house amenities like games rooms, fitness centres and relaxation zones that upend conventional office spaces. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not just Silicon Valley where the workplace is being re-invented. Case in point, Appodeal, an emerging high-tech company working with mobile app publishers whose employees, in its new offices in Minsk, Belarus, enjoy among other things ping pong tables, a massage room and a landscaped rooftop terrace. Perks such as these aside, Appodeal’s whimsically designed offices demonstrate that Silicon Valley does not have the monopoly on innovation in the workplace, but more importantly, that good design, courtesy of Belarusian interior design practice Studio11, can foster creativity, collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking.
Occupying an entire building in the centre of Minsk, the offices unfold over three floors with open plan workspaces broken up by coffee points, lounge zones and meeting rooms. For longer breaks, or just to stretch their legs, employees can head to the communal kitchen on the ground floor or step down to the basement level to play ping pong or foosball, hold informal meetings or even have a massage, while on warm summer days, they can take advantage of the rooftop terrace to relax and enjoy panoramic views of the city and meandering river.
Undoubtedly, what distinguishes these offices from the conventional type is Studio11’s bold interior design which relies on intense splashes of colour, integral graphics and contrasting materials in order to create a work environment that is both stimulating and pleasing. Take colour for example, which has been used to distinguish between different zones and functions: set against a uniformly painted off-white backdrop, including floors, furniture and even ceiling air ducts, cables and light fittings, and occasionally delineated by bold geometric lines, vibrant patches of primary colours whimsically stand out, creating a three-dimensional canvas of striking graphical power that can only be described as Mondrian-esque. Similarly, the use of materials such as glossy ceramic tiles and velvet upholstery sumptuously pop out against the prevailing matte finishes.
At the reception, the company’s logo, rendered in neon, glimmers against a tiled backdrop of deep blue which along with a bright red surface in the background create a memorable juxtaposition. On the same floor, the communal kitchen stands out with its radiant yellow cabinetry and polished stainless steel counters. Upstairs, the first floor is dominated by mint and emerald hues, with splashes of blue in a central lounge area, while on the second floor, the designers have once again used yellow highlights along with mint and teal.
The graphic sensibility of the colour application is matched by the graphical nature of the bespoke navigation system that the designers have developed. Inspired by board games where players follow a certain route, multiple bold lines on the floor lead visitors to their destination by bending around corners, turning right or left, or circumventing obstacles. This innovative signage concept adds to the playful sensibility of the interior design while also tapping into the emerging trend of gamification in the workplace, nothing less than what we’d expect from an up-and-coming high tech company such as this.