Usability Over Creativity?

August 7, 2011

After the response we had to our Google Office blog post we decided to dig a bit deeper into the web 2.0 to identify other contemporary office designs from some of Silicon Valley’s finest. Stumped by the monotony of some of the designs I took a break to Skype some friends. Then like all the best things it came to me out of nowhere. I thought let’s check out the Skype offices.

When we look at office design we have a checklist that always tickles us pink, the office has to be interactive, have quirky elements to it and where possible green and sustainable but ultimately it has to be functional.

When we think “Skype” we first think about interaction, the vibrancy of their branding and the quirkiness of the companies advertising and media interaction. Hoping not to be disappointed we began our research into their offices and came across their Palo Alto office.

The Palo Alto office for Skype was designed by San Francisco based design firm Blitz. They have created 54,000 square feet of brilliance which resonates with functionality as well as creativity unlike other offices that are creatively brilliant but functionally poor. What strikes us most about this project is that because of Skype’s branding and prowess in the market we were expecting something vibrant and with an explosion of creativity akin to offices such as Google, Pixar and DreamWorks.

However rather surprisingly outrageous elements of creativity have been negated in favour of a more functional and practical design, nevertheless as you can see from the below images creativity still remains in a more subtle form than that of the aforementioned offices. This is probably the single most refreshing element to us, that Blitz have succeeded in creating a space that favours functionality and practicality over showmanship, yet have still created a wonderfully creative space. I am sure the word I am looking for here is balance, yes, that would be the best way to describe this project, it has, in our opinion, got the perfect balance between all the elements we look for in great office design.