We’re talking to CEO and creative director of MIXD, Piotr Kalinowski about designing workspaces in line with the spirit of #newworldofhospitality.
WHAT IS THE MIXD RECIPE FOR AN OFFICE?
MIXD specializes in designing products for the hospitality industry, and we transfer this way of thinking to offices and other workspaces. When it comes to hospitality, it’s the people who are the most important: their comfort, their well-being, their emotions, their experiences. In hospitality, as a host of a given place, you make sure that the people staying there feel good, have a nice time, and want to come back. That they find there what they’re looking for: if they are hungry, let them find food, if they are looking for relaxation, let there be space for that, if they want to work, let nothing disturb them, let them have a comfortable place to work.
What has long been obvious in hotels is still just developing in offices.
We base our projects on it, which can be seen, for example, in Intive and Codelab offices, but we also help investors solve specific problems and improve their performance just by design.
I hope that our new Wrocław office, which we should soon furnish, will be a great testing ground for us.
HOW TO ADAPT THE WORKSPACE DESIGN TO THE NEEDS OF ITS USERS?
The starting point for design work in the case of MIXD office projects is our authorial Culture Club® workshop. This tool allows us, through work with future office users, to gather information about their needs, expectations and ways of organizing work. We invite a cross-sectional group of employees to participate, from board members to receptionists. During the workshops we talk about very specific issues, such as their previous experiences at workplaces or everyday practical needs: the desk size, the number of monitors or the type of armchairs. We discuss what their day at the office looks like, how many meetings they have, what size the groups are, whether they work on constant, repetitive tasks or on time-limited projects. The casual atmosphere makes the workshop participants very engaged in the process: they share with us both critical observations and bold, creative ideas. It is actually a kind of research from which we obtain a lot of data necessary for our project to meet the expectations of the future users.
As a studio we operate according to the Agile principles. Although it’s not very common in the architectural or design industries, it’s already a standard even in the IT or new technologies industries. This makes us understand the needs of similar companies, and when talking about cooperation, we speak the same language.
THE PANDEMIC HAS ACCELERATED THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW, HYBRID WORK MODELS. HOW ARE THE OFFICE SPACES CHANGING AS A RESULT?
The pandemic shooed us out of our offices, but we will certainly return there because nothing can replace 100% direct contact, flow of knowledge and information, building relationships and trust between employees. Companies, especially the large ones, caring for their crew allow them to work remotely, but people miss conversations, personal contact, inspiration and teamwork, which in many industries is very important. As a result, offices are quickly evolving from ‘9 to 5’ workplaces into usually informal meeting places. We will find there soft, club-like furniture, cafes and workshop rooms. High back sofas or acoustic booths create small, safe ‘capsules’, but they also muffle noise – we should remember that we make a lot more phone or video calls nowadays. Some conference rooms are transformed into corporate broadcasting studios from which you can transmit and receive live transmissions. Thus, also here you need good acoustics, lighting, large monitors, sound system, recording equipment. Such places enable hybrid meetings, too, by connecting people online and off line.
These meeting, but also hot desking formulas of office presence are obviously supported by numerous digital tools, such as room and desk reservation systems.
NOWADAYS, OFFICES ARE NOT THE ONLY PLACES WHERE WE WORK. WHEN DESIGNING OTHER TYPES OF FACILITIES, SUCH AS HOTELS, DO YOU TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE NEEDS OF EMPLOYEES ‘ON THE MOVE’?
Of course, this is a very important aspect even though the pandemic has slowed down our business travels. This is best seen in the very visible trend of combining hotels with coworking spaces, or the transformation of some hotels into offices as a result of the pandemic. Today, it is hard to imagine a hotel lobby, a food hall in a shopping mall or a café where you cannot sit comfortably with your laptop or conduct a casual business meeting.
Workspaces are also present in the co-living spaces and student residences we’ve designed recently.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I’m fascinated by hybrid spaces that serve several different functions at once. Also, a very interesting topic is the introduction of elements of brand experience to workplaces, something that is much more interesting than traditionally understood branding. The person who crosses the threshold of such a place doesn’t need to see a big logo – he or she must experience the values associated with the brand. We are currently working on an office design for a creative studio that specializes in creating film and photo content. This office will be very expressive visually, created from the beginning with the idea to look attractive as a background for people in front of the camera or lens. Another project, for an international telecommunication operator, is an office with a modern showroom loaded with multimedia technologies.
As I am a huge fan of computer games, I would also like to design a space in a game theme: a hotel, a bar, a store. It would definitely be a fantastic experience.