Abstract environmental artworks might not be the first place you would think to look for inspiration for a collaborative office, but that’s exactly where design firm Bean Buro turned for a project it has dubbed the ‘Green Office’.
The studio was commissioned to design the new offices of Hong Kong health insurance provider Cigna when the company launched its new brand campaign in 2017. The goal was to create an office that would accommodate a range of different activities while promoting staff productivity and wellbeing.
“The workspace narrative was inspired by art and architecture, but especially the landscape interventions of Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” says Bean Buro’s Founding Director Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, describing how the husband-and-wife artist duo famously wrapped the green islands of Biscayne Bay, Florida in bright material to create their Surrounded Islands piece in 1983.
“We interpreted the islands as desirable ‘oases’ that function as social nodes within the workplace, forming interruptions within the open-plan workspace where employees could gather and break out from their fixed work desks,” Kinugasa-Tsui continues.
The heart of the 5,800-square-foot office is the pantry cafe, which sits at the centre of the V-shaped floor plan and features comfortable lounge furniture, bar tables and long benches facing sprawling city views. But there are other collaborative spaces spread throughout the space, too.
The project also took its cue from Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s use of colour to highlight aspects of scenery that might otherwise go unnoticed. While the office is united by a calming green palette, the social areas are delineated by different colours and textures.
“The social spaces introduce wooden finishes and pops of accented colours. The intent is to create an energetic and positive ambiance,” says Bean Buro’s Founding Director Lorène Faure. She continues, “The legibility of these social spaces encourages collaboration to boost productivity as well as staff wellbeing.”
In the main office areas, a sense of calm is also carried forward by furniture upholstered in pastel fabrics and a carpet inspired by pebble paths. Inspired by Hong Kong’s scenery and Cigna’s logo (an abstracted tree), the materials in the open-plan area are soft, natural and calm.
“Our interpretation of ‘wellbeing’ was a subtle translation into design,” explains Kinugasa-Tsui. The designers looked to “environmental design aspects like air, water and light; spaces for relaxation; and a tasteful design palette that feels natural, calming, and comfortable, without the need for gimmicks such as slides and mini-golf that have become overly common in offices,” he explains.
Interior Designer: Bean Buro
Bean Buro Team: Lorène Faure, Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, Isabel Entrambasaguas Usero, Abby Liu, Pauline Paradis, Isabella Ducoli
Contractor / Project Manager: Mi2
MEP Consultant: i.d.a. International