Hive of activity
Milliken's impetus for the creation of this new 25,500 square-foot freestanding design studio was to reposition its Floor Products Division as an industry leader in design, innovation and quality, and create a workplace that would reflect these values. A further goal for the space was to highlight product innovation and the product development process for staff, guests and international clientele alike.
Designers began evolving the space from a basic program that included space requirements for design, sales and finance staff, as well as a showroom for product display and presentation. As the client intended for specifiers/customers, architects, designers and real estate teams to visit and even use the space to varying extents, it was designed with "client-forwardness" in mind.
The client's commitment to improved product design and its collaborative, non-hierarchal working style were core values in the space planning process. Several notable features of the space - including its distinctive teamwork pods and its array of collaboration zones evolved as a direct response to these needs. The open, largely unobstructed character of the space was preserved to take maximum advantage of the double-height glazing on the northern exposure and its expansive views of the client's 600-acre corporate campus arboretum.
The design solution emphasized a modern viewpoint for the interior architecture, tempered by an essential neutrality which would allow the character of product development to take center stage. The open-plan is therefore surrounded on all sides with collaborative working spaces, allowing all groups to stay within close proximity and thus collaborate easily and intuitively. Sharing the working space are idea-generating amenities including "war rooms" for designers/product teams, enclosed meeting rooms, a variety of lounges, team rooms, library and pantry-cafe, and a showroom and lounge directly off the entry. Highly visible, neutral areas called 'client beaches' were designed for customer teams to have a large space to review samples, strike-offs and mockups.
Pre-existing features of the space were re-used in the new design in the interest of sustainability. For example, selected existing meeting rooms received new frameless glass fronts specifically, low-iron glass without a green tint - to visibly connect them with the larger volume. The entry, lounge and showroom are located on an area with a newly constructed raised floor - a deliberate stage feature intended to "elevate" the arrival experience and provide visitors with an immediate overview of activity in the studio.
The space expresses a range of aspects about the client's company, capabilities and history that enhance its relevance and meaning to staff and visitors, and connect it particularly with designers and architects. A range of Millken and Constantine products are used throughout the entire space, including the upholstery found on much of the loose seating, and the patented "screen" fabrics on the workstations, and carpets.
Due to budget restrictions for wood veneer millwork, antique wood flooring was salvaged from one of the earliest 20th century flooring factories nearby in South Carolina. These and other wood products - including plank flooring - are paired with cork flooring running horizontally on two walls of the pantry-cafe, and mesquite wood-block flooring in the boardroom and meeting spaces, generating a welcoming note of warmth in an otherwise neutral interior.