In the West, Japan is associated with cherry flowers, geishas, samurais, sushi and big-eyed manga characters. It is also a place identified with the newest technologies. In the capital of Japan, Tokyo, you can find the offices of the biggest international corporations. A leader of the IT branch - Google, known for its unconventional and original ways of arranging space, also has its offices there. The two Tokyo offices of Google were designed by the architects from Klein Dytham architecture (KDa). The first is staffed by Google employees, the second was devoted to one of the websites, belonging to the company - YouTube.
To rouse creativity
All offices, belonging to Google have characteristic innovative solutions and are connected to local traditions. In Tokyo's Roppongi district, where the office of that Internet giant is located, it shows especially well.
The designers wanted the interior decoration not to be boring and repetitive. They also wanted the decorations to make the employees feel comfortable. This is why the designers introduced different coloured zones on different storeys, creating individual areas. Thanks to that solution, a "necklace" was made from differently coloured conference rooms, winding around the building's centre.
On one of the storeys, the architects have organised the space around conference rooms using small perforated concrete blocks, often used by Japanese construction industry. In the city, walls made from that material often make it possible to see luxurious gardens. In Google's office, they show small rooms, decorated with a big wall graphic, usually depicting colourful flowers. Formal and informal meetings can be organised in these rooms.
In the object there are mini-kitchens, each of them different colour. On some of the storeys, the kitchens are designed in Google colours - blue, yellow, red and green, on the others the architects have let their imagination run loose. Thanks to them the employees can have a meal for example in a blue, "hairy" kitchen, in which giant brushes, usually found in... car wash have been used.
The taste of the Orient
When designing the place, the architects did not forget to look into local culture. Google's office was constructed in two stages, first of which was mainy inspired by the graphics from traditional Japanese fabrics and by modern anime. During the designing of the second stage, the company wanted even more vivid reference to the traditions of the region. So, the architects have used such elements as a full-size yatai (traveling food stall) or digital koi pond, which welcomes the guests at one of the building's entrances. Thanks to the hidden sensors, carps displayed on the floor are moving towards the people entering the room, seemingly wanting to be fed.
One of the storeys was designed to look like a traditional Japanese bath, sento, which is currently disappearing from the country. Passing noren curtain leads to areas, associated with ritual of washing the body before entering the swimming pools. The interiors are decorated with white ceramic tiles, wooden stools and computer monitors, put into places, where you would normally expect mirrors. Next we can move into a room inspired by rooms with swimming pools, found in traditional sento. Its decoration is a traditional wall painting, depicting Mount Fuji, painted specially for Google by one of the last living wall painters. This room is used for trainings and presentations, but also during external events, when it is acting as a dining zone. In the building there are also conference rooms, which connect to tradition through the elements associated with matsuri – a Japanese festival. On the walls there are wallpapers with the patterns, which adorn Japanese clothes yukata and coats happi, worn during the festival.
The architects from KDa have also referred to icons, connected to the company, such as Google Android or Google Pin. The designers have combined traditional Japanese culture with well-hidden symbols of Google, creating unique space, meeting the needs of the company.
Create common space for video producers
YouTube is a website which enables free of charge exchange of films and recordings. The aim of the design studio was, in this case, creating free space, where the most talented producers in Asia could produce without restraint. In the office, there are, among others, recording studios, training spaces and boxes. Similar YouTube centres have already been made in London and Los Angeles. The designers and the owner wanted to create common space for the producers, where they could get training aid and support during production.
YouTube's office in Tokyo is located in Mori Tower. After entering, the visitor is welcomed by a striking red wall, made from panels looking like YouTube logo. They change their shade - from intensive red in the reception, through pink in the hall, to white in café and kitchen.
Around the described space, KDa architects have arranged production studios, audio record studio, a studio with a green screen, dispatch room, editing room, make-up studio, VIP space, café and a big room, devoted to trainings and seminars. All these rooms have been designed in a way which allows for recording in them. To guarantee a wide spectrum of possible recordings, there has been a great variety of wall coatings and carpet and ceiling shades. One of the walls is a "wall of fame" with photos of the best producers. A very long screen, found in the rooms, allows divising the space freely. A specially commissioned sofa could be freely arranged, to fit both during the interviews and during the discussion panels. All space is designed in such a way so as to maximize using of the spectacular view of Tokyo.
The project is worth attention especially because on normal office space there is fully equipped and furnished recording studio. The designers have had to overcome various technical obstacles, like these connected to the rooms heating because of a large number of lights. That problem was solved by modern LED lights, other ones were overcome thanks to the inventiveness of the authors of the design.