Take five to escape your dreary desk and have a look at these ridiculously fun offices. It’s time to wave goodbye to carpeted cubicles, suspended ceilings and wan walls and greet the playful workspace with open arms. With designs influenced by the play spaces your probably loved as a kid, these modern offices aim to combine pleasure with work. Once the exclusive domain of creative industries, playful offices are on the up. Why wouldn’t every office want a hammock, flume or skateboard park? Print this off post off and leave it lying around your drab workspace and your bosses might just catch on. Enjoy…
1. On the Net
Maison NW near Paris is the home and workspace of architect Nathalie Wolberg. She used her architectural expertise to create this house-and-office-in-one. There are a lot of theories on the design connected with domesticity, desires and eroticism.. All that aside, it looks like a brilliant place to work. It’s a bit like the Big Brother house, only without the crazy tenants and baying crowd outside. There are floating staircases, futuristic pods, a few comfy-looking loungers and this magnificent net, complete with mood lighting (of course.)
2. Mr Sandman
You know the stuff you associate with holidays? Lapping waves, the smell of sun cream, bad karaoke, the sand between your toes? Artist’s assistant Justin Kemp gets to enjoy the latter every day, thanks to the sandbox he built around his desk. For some reason, he isn’t too bothered about the bad karaoke. He describes work as a ‘permanent vacation’. If that’s how the sand makes you feel, we’ll order a tonne of the stuff.
3. Feeling Fruity
Fruit Towers is the HQ of UK-based smoothie maker Innocent. The meeting rooms are named after different vegetables (they sell stuff with veg in as well as the fruit), meeting booths are influenced by diners and there’s even a library. Another fun (and eco-friendly) feature is the green light that flashes to remind staff that it’s a suitable temperature outside for the windows to be flung open – and that the air conditioning is stopping. The centre point of Fruit Towers is this large, double-height atrium. With its picnic benches, fake grass and bright bunting, there’s a strong nod to the English village green. (And a game of table football,if you fancy it.)
If you were lucky enough to visit any playground in the eighties or nineties, chances are you scaled or swung from a climbing frame that looked like this. Bring back the memories with the “Official Playground”, which brings retro park design into the office. Books and folders are stored around the edge, powwows can take place beneath it and for the higher level meetings… well, you’ll have to climb to the top. Just don’t let your boss catch you scratching your initials into the bars.
5. Hot Tub Timeline Machine
Social media behemoth Facebook installed this hot tub for a recent ‘hackathon’ at their Seattle offices. This is a place with a real sense of humour (the meeting rooms are called ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Another Starbucks’, respectively.) Facebook even managed to get local graffiti artist ‘Weirdo’ to decorate the side of the hot tub. But hang on: why is it full of cushions instead of water and froth? Turns out the landlord of the building didn’t want that much water to be in one place. Where’s the ‘unlike’ button?
6. Swing Board to Progress
The phrases ‘swinging’ and ‘board meeting’ rarely come together, but perhaps they should. That’s what London-based designer Christopher Duffy thought when he created the Swing Table. The solid wood and powder-coated steel frame houses a pretty cool geometric lamp and eight playful swing seats. Just try not to say “weee!” in the middle of the AGM.
7. Board Room
Perched on a balcony overlooking the retail shop, the Bastard Store offices in Milan are a pretty inspiring place to work. (Imagine seeing your designs getting rung through the till above.) But that’s not all: if you happen to be into skateboarding, you can have a go on your lunch break, thanks to the in-house, full-size indoor skateboard park raised 18 feet above the ground. It just about makes up for the fact you work in a place called ‘Bastard’.
8. One Meellion Dollars
Come on, no offices actually look like this in real life, do they? If they do, surely the boss is about to Take Over the Entire World? OK, this isn’t an artist’s impression; it does actually exist. The White Mountain Office lies 100 feet below the pavements of Stockholm and was originally designed as a shelter from atomic fallout. These days, it houses the offices of internet service provider Bahnhof AB Data Center – nowhere near as exciting as an evil villain, but not a bad place to have to go to work. Mwahahahaha etc.
The London office of children’s hit Moshi Monsters is heavily influenced by the characters themselves, as well as their number one fans. The (grown-up) staff who work here get to enjoy stacks of toys and games, comfy bean bag seating, a giant TV and Guitar Hero. We’re not quite sure what the work itself involves, but the rest room sounds fun. And the rest – check out this leafy little tree house, with views out across the
magical forest canopy Shoreditch High Street.
10. All Aboard
Workers at Inventionland in the USA are challenged with the day-to-day task of creating ‘tomorrow’s inventions, today’. That’s quite a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of imagination involved, so the owner created a Willa Wonka-esque world of wacky creativity. There’s an office behind a waterfall, one on a speedway and another the shape of the old woman’s shoe of nursery rhyme fame. We love this pirate ship (a.k.a. “The Deck of Discovery” – but not that shark on the right – signs at the water’s edge warn that he is called Balzar and “attacks creativity”. Dangerous.
11. Inner Tube
The Youtube offices in California are a truly playful place to work. Apart from the giant slide (pictured), there’s a pool, a gym and a miniature golf course. Everything has been thought of in order to make sure that colleagues here never get bored. If they do, they could always go off and mess around on Youtube for a bit. Oh no, hang on…
12. In Your Face(book)
When Facebook moved into this gargantuan Californian space in 2009, they consulted their employees about what they wanted first. The result was this incredibly fun space, which includes mini-kitchens throughout the building (all serving up snacks, drinks and top notch dinners), plus games consoles and even DJ decks like these. The input from staff is ongoing: Facebook encourages its employees to scrawl on walls, put up different art and shift furniture.
13. Fresh Air
With its unique accommodation concept, Airbnb.com has blossomed into one of the world’s most popular travel sites. Users can search a huge selection of privately owned and often very special places to stay, across the globe. The concept continues at the company’s HQ, where meeting rooms are all inspired by some of Airbnb.com’s quirkiest listings. This one is modelled on a cabin in California, but there’s also a Berlin artist’s flat and a cutting edge Hong Kong apartment. Oh and the office has an in-house dog, too: the charmingly-named ‘Biscuits Jackson’.
14. That’s Good
The offices of Good Technology in London look more like a swanky bar. With deep Chesterfield chairs, glistening chandeliers and that pool table, it’s little wonder that so many members of staff end up sticking around after the working day is done.
15. Downward Spiral
The Electric Works in Sheffield, UK, is a shared business space for freelancers working in the creative and media industries. What makes it stand out is this stunning helter skelter, which allows occupants to whizz down three floors in just seven seconds (and feel pretty exhilarated along the way.) Part of the slide is made of clear plastic, so that other tenants and visitors can watch people careering past. The rest is made of steel, which seems apt, given the fact Sheffield is also known as Steel City. For those who are feeling less daring (or perhaps not wearing suitable clothing), there’s also a lift and stairs.
16. Viennese Whirl
Another slide-for-staff, this time in the zingy offices of Microsoft, in Vienna. This ultra-modern workplace also comes with a giant, illuminated X-ray of a computer behind the reception and meeting rooms with themes like ‘hunting lodge’ and ‘ocean’. The building was designed by Austrian architects ARGE KOOP/INNOCAD, who won the opportunity to create the design in a competition.
17. Toy Story
When you work at Lego, your job has got to be marginally fun already, right? Spending your days inventing things with colourful bricks and creating one of the world’s most popular toys must be loads of fun. When Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord designed the head office for the famous toy brand in Denmark, they decided to step up the playfulness a notch or two. The result? This magnificent slide – just perfect for escaping terrible meetings.
18. Bricking It
Speaking of Lego, here’s some brightening up one office. When Dublin advertising agency Boys and Girls asked the designers at Behance to design their new digs, it was something of a challenge: the agency wanted their classic Georgian town house to look all modern on the inside. Behance came up with the goods, which included an overall minimalist feel with echoes of modern art galleries. In the centre of it all, a true work of art: this board room table, made up of a staggering 22,742 Lego bricks. They also managed to create a fascinating stop-motion film of the table’s creation.
19. If You Go Down Into the Woods Today
On the outskirts of bustling Spanish capital Madrid, these lucky people get to work in total tranquillity. The offices of architect Selgas Cano are inside this futuristic tube, which is tucked amongst trees in the woodland. It’s like your perfect childhood den, only with a modern streak. The views from the glass panels are stunning, making staff feel fully submerged in the outdoor experience.
20. Tree House
Peter Frazier, a Customer Experience Consultant from the USA, was sick of being tied to a dull desk and gaining weight. He wanted to bring his work into the great outdoors, which is why he created this stunning woodland workspace in Chuckanut Bay in Bellingham, Washington. Inside, the space is uncluttered and clean and the views are said to be sublime. Bliss.