Designing The Awe-Factor: How To Create Workplaces That Evoke Emotions

Ooyala, Santa Clara, CA | Photographer: Gregory Cortez (Cortez Media Group)

Ooyala, Santa Clara, CA | Photographer: Gregory Cortez (Cortez Media Group)

Designers today are finding inspiration in workplace design from many sources. From recent aesthetic trends, to ethnographic research that examines how people use space, to generational demographics that reflect social and lifestyle changes – every aspect plays into creating and shaping the next generation of workspace. That said, the most important inspiration still comes from individual clients themselves. The most successful workplaces continue to reflect both the unique culture of a company as well as the unique makeup of its workforce.

Yet, all companies continue to grapple with the same basic issue—how to attract and retain the best talent. Employees are the backbone to creating a company’s culture; thus, there is no doubt that an aesthetic “wow” factor that inspires creativity, attracts new employees, and supports retention is crucial to a company’s success.

How do companies “live their culture,” complete with unique experiential design features that create that “awe factor” and provide special “moments” throughout an entire workplace? Inventive design solutions that reflect the personality of the company are the foundation that sets the stage. Several recent projects illustrate vibrant solutions—each specifically crafted to the individual corporate culture, designed to support a productive workforce and attract the next generation of top talent.

Incorporating Health & Wellness into the Workplace

One example of how design can impact employee health and wellbeing while truly setting the stage for success is The Cannery, a once-underutilized office property and former fruit and vegetable cannery in the revitalized Midtown warehouse district of Sacramento. Today, it has been transformed into a full-block urban office and technology campus designed to meet the growing needs of the city’s most forward-thinking companies. As such, it has created a true gathering place that not only embraces an exciting, breathable space, it serves as a vibrant backdrop for the companies that call The Cannery home.

This urban renewal project includes tailored tenant work environments and common community areas. These carefully crafted spaces – such as The Cannery Patio and Community Park – encourage interaction and include covered tables, bocce ball, and special locations for mobile food trucks featuring farm-to-fork cuisine. The common spaces connect tenants to each other to promote idea sharing and employee wellbeing using open spaces essential for interaction and forming a connection to nature.

The renovation combines the building’s historic industrial character of masonry, and brick and original divided light glazing throughout, with modern office design. All of this creates a truly unique workspace. Part of the design direction and strategy, created in partnership with the developer Fulcrum Property, focused on honoring the history of the property while recognizing the specific mission of each tenant within the overarching design framework of the entire property.

While The Cannery presented an opportunity to look at a full-block urban workplace experience, other companies may look at a single element to create an impactful and meaningful workplace.