Rather than opting for a typical corporate look in their new Kuala Lumpur office, software firm Quintiq took its lead from the youthfulness of its staff to provide a stimulating-but-functional mash-up of contemporary cool and colourful eclecticism
Certain industries are often strongly identified with specific office looks. Imagining a bank headquarters evokes visions of exquisitely sober spaces. Advertising and PR workplaces, meanwhile, are stereotypically slick and eccentric in character - designed as much to stir up storms of creativity as to support work.
Conversely, the image of a typical IT company office is perhaps a little hazier and for Netherlands-based software firm Quintiq and workplace design firm M Moser Associates, therein lay an advantage. As M Moser's Ramesh Subramaniam relates, Quintiq's new Kuala Lumpur office is very much a product of an open mind, unfettered by expectations of the "typical": They had a very basic brief: They were expanding tremendously, so they needed more space. But because they're a young company they didn't want the usual serious corporate environment. The idea was to create something stimulating and even playful.
Quintiq's selection of a 2,322 sq-m penthouse at the Crown, Bandar Utama, promised ample room for staff to stretch their legs. The designers imaginations were meanwhile seized with the potential of some of the space's more dramatic architectural features, such as its curved glass outer walls and the outstanding views from its twin outside decks. What evolved from this palette of requirements and basic spatial characteristics was a refreshingly different design direction one more typical of an advertising agency than an IT company.
Accordingly, the journey through the office begins with a sleight-of-hand, in a reception area whose ultra-simple lines and pristine white surfaces offer few hints to what's in store beyond. "The idea was that when someone arrives off the lift, we don't want them to see the office area right away, says Ramesh. It's very clean and neutral, its most pronounced feature being a "Q" logo that wraps from the wall onto the floor in front of the reception desk.
A tunnel-like waiting/seating area flows directly from reception and adds some interesting variations to the otherwise gleaming white colour scheme. "We wanted to compel people through the space, so there's human silhouettes strolling along the inside wall. Another sort of progression from the past to the future is suggested by the chairs arranged down the centre of the space. You start off with a really traditional chair, and then there's a mid-century chair, and finally you end up with a really modern chair, Ramesh explains. Also of note is the spectrum of colourful cushions arranged on the space's long bench seat a first hint at the exuberant environment that awaits only a few steps away.
A set of doors gives way to a circular arrangement of meeting rooms, training room, outside terrace and boardroom, pivoting around a central break-out area. From there, an arcing corridor takes one to the "blue pantry", a generously sized space whose most arresting feature (apart from its electrifying hue) are irregularly shaped windows seemingly punched at random through its walls to give a peek at the work floor outside.
And what a work floor. Described in planning terms, this area and its near-twin on the opposite side of the floor plate - consists simply of a spacious open-plan bordered to one side by floor-to-ceiling windows, and to the other by glass-enclosed offices nestled against the building core. In design terms, things get considerably more interesting. The floor is a 24-colour chequerboard, which makes walking into the work area like wading into a sea of colour, says Ramesh. Because the carpet is so strong, everything else is relatively subdued. The solid walls facing into the area, for example, are grey, but enlivened by a double line of portholes with glass or coloured inserts.
Connecting the office's two distinct wings and shifting its visual eclecticism up another gear is a red pantry and large open dining room, the latter overlooking one of a pair of external landscaped terraces. Up above, an undulating line of black and white pendant lights catches the eye, and then leads it downward toward furnishings that can be mildly described as engagingly eccentric. Rather than a corporate arrangement identical chairs and identical tables, this dining room has 22 different chairs and a long timber table. It does help to personalise the space, says Ramesh.
Should one prefer to eat or simply take a breather outdoors, the second of the office's two non-landscaped terraces beckons nearby. Here, once again, the office's colourful chequerboard theme emerges in the form of circular bench seating cushions, this time embellished by a arching 'timber box'. "We wanted to encourage people to go outside and use the terraces, and these slatted timber boxes act as a visual enticement, Ramesh reveals. They also create a picture frame effect for the views.
With its abrupt shift from cool and rational to kaleidoscopic and eclectic, Quintiq's new office will confound those who 'assume the expected' - but is designed to delight, inspire and offer practical support to its users. On those most crucial of terms, it is a space that exceeds expectations.