“It used to be that all a company needed to build a strong identity was a good logo and recognisable colours. But the advent of the so-called Experience Economy in the late nineties turned brand awareness on its head. Suddenly we saw that even the slightest interaction between customer and company represents a chance to convey a message about who that company is. It didn’t take marketing mavens and CEOs long to realise that a perfect place to inscribe that message in capital letters is in the design of the company’s own offices, where employees and guests alike can wander the halls of a veritable temple of the corporate image.
Putting identity into spatial form is a complex task. Certain projects featured here, such as zipherspacework’s colourful design for Panama, and Shubin + Donaldson’s offices for Ground Zero, entailed the articulation of brand- new images for fledgling companies with big ideas and little more. Where successful, these new offices are often the most tangible incarnations of what makes these new brands tick.
Working with established images, on the other hand, is of a different nature altogether. When dealing with big names, architects and designers can find themselves performing a delicate balancing act between reflecting the status quo and attempting to influence it with bold new gestures. Jump Studios’ offices for Nike in London and Solid Arquitectura’s work for McCann-Erickson in Madrid are both projects that took two highly established brands and pushed them forward, exploring new ways of putting a face on a corporate space. And in Paris, Pierre Sartoux and Augustin Rosenstiehl showed Ogilvy, the identity pros, a few new tricks in the use of logo and colour. In the extreme, design can be a matter of revolution rather than evolution. Witness the new headquarters of the Socialist Party in Brussels, a Lhoas & Lhoas design that starred in a party-wide programme aimed at casting off the past and beginning afresh, proving that offices not only reflect images, but can also become part of a force that alters identity.”