Tag Archives: Open Office

Zappos Headquarters a 2015 Design Is..Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Annie Wilson addresses the design process for the headquarters Zappos in Las Vegas, NV.

Describe this project in one word.  Enabling.


How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?  In a company where culture is king and collision is favored over convenience, the design responds to these needs and the Ten Core Values of Zappos. Ultimately, KMD’s major infrastructure improvements and complete redesign of the City Hall interiors increased the design occupancy of the building from 600 to 2,000.

Design is a process. Explain your journey.  The design team took great care in understanding employee needs, personalities, and core values to properly craft a solution befitting Zappos.  Floors were intentionally designed to provide mixtures of teaming and individual workspace – promoting dynamic interactions. Collaborative spaces including conference rooms, phone rooms and casual meeting areas are centralized internally per floor and features .  The open floor plan promotes collaboration and natural light throughout. Open office areas offer flexibility, and the carpet design enhances the central collaboration elements by focusing the majority of patterns and color at interaction areas while leaving open workspace more textural and neutral. Definition around collaborative spaces is created through bright colors for doors and cores and strong carpet colors.


What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow? The design team learned that candid input and feedback from the end-user is essential in creating a space that promotes longevity within the workplace.

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Please Be Quiet, We’re Trying to Collaborate

CLEARLINK's open office headquarters in Salt Lake City by Method Studios.

We blogged here about the office of the future, but not everyone is sold on the merits of the open office.

Last week, The New York Times posted an article that presented the other side of the open office solution, and the grass isn’t necessarily greener:

“Many studies show that people have shorter and more superficial conversations in open offices because they’re self-conscious about being overheard,” said Anne-Laure Fayard, a professor of management at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University who has studied open offices. “Everyone is still experimenting with ways to balance the need for collaboration and the need for privacy.”

Office walls are coming down, and ear buds are being donned as a means to block out the extra noise and distraction.

John Hollon, an expert in all things HR, writes in response to the Times article, “When you plug a person who really needs a closed-door office into an open environment, do you know what you get? A person who is a lot less productive because they have been dropped into a space not particularly conductive to operating efficiently.”

So we know that square footage per employee is decreasing. Companies want to encourage collaboration across teams and departments. Hoteling stations for mobile workers are on the rise. As it becomes easier for interaction to occur in today’s office, fostering an environment of collaboration and flexibility, how can we as designers ensure that employees retain the “perks” afforded by the traditional office space, namely privacy and concentration?

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