Change is uncomfortable – agonising even, but non-negotiable in modern professional culture. Here, design has a responsibility to create spaces that not only allow change to happen, but that make the otherwise thorny process of ‘self-education’ an engaging, positive one.
July 14th, 2017
Change is the worst. Big or small, it’s simply excruciating and if you’re anything like me, even the departure of your fave barista will fling you into a months-long depressive spiral from which you may never fully recover. But unfortunately for us, it’s the only certainty in life. And with the moving target that is modern commercial culture, change through self-education is a non-negotiable.
But taking the design approach of “let’s make change fun” is a fool’s paradise. Change is never “fun” – it’s uncomfortable, and Australia’s most creative thinkers are designing spaces with the philosophy that we shouldn’t deny our discomfort – but indulge it.
Signifying a new generation in creative thinking, Carr’s approach of embracing our aversion to change is at the forefront of a new digital philosophy with the notions of disruption, confrontation, invention and agility at its core. Dan Cox, Carr Design’s director of commercial interiors explains: “Flipping on its head the notion of consultants embedding themselves for weeks on end at the client’s HQ, the BCGDV workplace invites their staff and clients on a journey. From narrow tunnels acting to challenge preconceived ideas and conventions to ‘Immersion Rooms’ featuring Minority Report-style gesture-based technology – the experience represents a purposeful disruption to the status quo. It’s about taking businesses out of their comfort zone and catapulting them into a world that aims to invent, build and scale products and businesses at start-up speed.”
The entire space is purpose-built for users to confront their reluctance for changing decades-long professional habits and learning new, more technology-driven ways of working. With rapid changes in technology, and greater emphasis placed on creating efficient and appropriate workspaces, the brief to Carr by BCGDV was to reposition the ever-changing digital work environment. In fact, during the ideation period, BCGDV’s founder and CEO, explained how he believes that: “we have entered a decade of disruption, forcing businesses to attack established models with new ideas fuelled by technology.” Addressing the brief, but also taking their clients out of their comfort zone, Carr structured the space on the foundation of three key pillars: Choke; Re-birth; and Hatch.
Choke is the initial encounter of the space, and the first in a series of devices designed to get you excited about your immediate unfamiliarity. Here, ‘choke’ begins with a three-dimensional light installation. “This jolt acts both as a branding tool and an indication of what’s to come,” says Cox. “This alludes not only to the brand logo but the underlying principal of the hexagon as a metaphor for integration and collaboration whilst the broken/shattered shape represents the disturbance of convention and normality.”
Immediately the installation acts to brand the space as a place of innovation, re-imagination and invention – home to a hive of transformative and creative thought, energy and talent – a digital hub of ideas and technology charging into the future at break neck speed.From here, BCGDV users then embark on a purposefully-challenging and provocative journey where participants enter a narrow, almost suffocating pitch-black tunnel. In an instant the tunnel ignites with a strobing visual bombardment of confrontational, antagonistic imagery acting again to question preconceived ideas and conventions. “Our development of the tunnel references a brand new method of thinking in the consultant/client relationship.
The expulsion from the tunnel leads you into the ‘rebirth’ sector, home to the investment and incubation centre – a hive of transformative and creative thought, energy and talent – where client teams can spend from 1 to 12 weeks imbedded deep in the organisation; connecting, cross generating and developing new ideas. These ‘Immersion Rooms’ accommodate deep dives with large client groups that include interactive walls and virtual surfaces for story-boarding and feature state-of-the-art gesture based technology including: groundbreaking gestural interface, dynamic interactive multi-wall canvas’, virtual surfaces for ideation and storyboarding, interactive whiteboards and heat maps. Within this sector are smaller, intimate ‘Chat Rooms’ to promote conversations and dynamic face-to-face discussion allowing faster decision making and real time outcomes. Ultimately, Carr’s approach to integrating this amazingly cool tech into the BCGDV space enables all parties to rapidly test ideas and tweak outcomes before time is wasted on unnecessary development.
‘Hatch’ – the final stage in this highly unusual environment – are the spaces dedicated to “the hatching of ideas,” says Cox. This floor is the engine room, the hub that fosters and supports BCGDV’s highly dynamic internal teams. Cox explains: “The overall idea was to create a medley of spaces that serve wide-ranging needs for private time, team projects, constructive conversations, corridor collisions and sometimes the need for simple retreat and consolidation.”
Here, Carr designed what they refer to as the ‘Venture Floor’, functioning as the “hatching point or engine room,” Cox explains. Situated on level two, the venture floor features a variety of spaces with no fixed desks or allocated offices, and there are areas for collaborative work and areas to retreat. The rooms are equipped with leading edge video conferencing, where teams of consultants working in different time zones, different locations and sometimes different languages, gather to shape their recommendations to clients.Private meeting rooms and workstations allow for time alone crunching numbers, organising presentations, or mulling strategies for clients. No one has a fixed desk or office. Shared desks have the dual purpose of higher occupancy, greater efficiency and greater flexibility whilst also embracing and promoting a sense of energy and a pulse. The design strategy behind the integrated technology here has been developed specifically to connect people to people, while the more traditional use of Post Its promotes, and continues to play a crucial role in the collating of ideas and thought processes. Acres of writable wall space can be used for ideation and creative process. Even the corridors were developed to encourage ‘collisions’ for the exchange of ideas.
Additionally, Carr has also integrated an internal ‘Town Hall’, where staff come together to socialise and as importantly, share information. Bleacher style casual seating further enhances this purpose built space allowing for seating of many in a relatively confined area and a relaxed setting to encourage collaboration and conversation. A three metre long communal café table promotes casual interaction and is cleverly designed with linear slots carved into the timber allowing for the propping and use of mobile and tablet devices. A casual bar area supports contact and exchange over coffee or lunch. And finally as with any investment consultancy businesses, there are also ‘Deals Rooms’, where contracts are signed and hands are shook; in fact the only thing missing is the scotch and cigars!
Even Carr Design was not immune from the awkward process of self-education they had been tasked with creating for BCGDV. Dan Cox, Carr Design’s director of commercial interiors recalls:
Carr’s remarkable insight for the BCGDV Sydney HQ is a tremendous success in facilitating a space for ongoing, sustainable self-education. But more than that, it’s a critical example of how to best manage the increasingly important role of designer – change-management. Carr approaches this uncomfortable task with acceptance, rather than denial by actively leaning in to what has traditionally felt to so ill-fitting. And the result is a slam dunk, where the project sees a radical (even rebellious) transformation of the workplace we know today – building on our experience and research to launch the office of the future.
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