Tuesday 21 Jan 2014
The panoramic view of San Francisco's waterfront from Cisco-Meraki's new offices in some ways sets the theme for Studio O+A's design. Viewed from almost any angle, the interiors create an impression of light, spaciousness, bright colour and long sightlines. Meraki, which was recently acquired by Cisco Systems, takes pride in the elegance of the wireless routers it designs. O+A sought to build the space the way Meraki builds its products, with an emphasis on simplicity and seamless ease of use, while remaining mindful of the importance of the Cisco-Meraki merger to the company's identity.
At the outset, O+A surveyed Meraki's employees to find out what they liked about their old, much smaller headquarters. A consensus emerged for natural light, plenty of collaboration space and preservation of the company's tightly knit culture. The size of the new space and the prominence of its floor-to-ceiling windows made collaboration and natural light relatively easy to incorporate. O+A's design offers a variety of meeting spaces - formal and informal, indoor and outdoor - many of them bathed in the crystalline light of San Francisco Bay. The scale and the light support a rich palette of colours and design elements: a wide staircase with integrated stadium seating at its base, a meeting room with handing tillandsia plants and an outdoor deck offering views of the baseball park and Bay Bridge.
Maintaining Merkai's cosy ambience in the hangar-sized complex proved more challenging. O+A's solution was to create a medley of small gathering spaces within the large footprint. Sunken seating brings intimacy to horizontal common areas while preserving broad sightlines. Yurts, cabanas and phone rooms offer varying levels of enclosure. Throughout the office, colleague can sit down and talk in informal lounge spaces.
Despite the right finishes and the wide array of typologies, one of O+A's goals was to give Cisco-Meraki employees a blank canvas on which to pain their own pictures. In lieu of pervasive branding graphics, O+A provided ubiquitous chalkboards, whiteboards and corkboards so that employees could sketch, write and pin up graphics meaningful to them. As might be expected, given the company's strong do-it-yourself culture, mobility and adaptability were big factors in the selection of furniture and workstations. These are people who like to move things around.
The intention was to tame the big space and make it human. Watching Meraki employees travel from department do department via unicycle, gather for lunch on the breezy deck, or make use of the yurts and wall pop-ins throughout the day, we believe that goal was achieved.