Designing urban vibrancy on the top level
Kinzo designed the 21st floor of the AmorePacific headquarters in Seoul
++ Kinzo designed coworking space for South Korea’s largest cosmetics group
++ design reflects urban context of Seoul ++ contrasts promote creative working atmosphere ++ smart combination of multiple functions ++ houses for start-up families ++ movable elements for maximum flexibility ++ freedom for creativity, exchanging ideas and innovation ++
For the headquarters of South Korea‘s largest cosmetics group, Kinzo designed an interior that aimed to bring the vibrancy and color from the urban context of Seoul to the top floor (“F21”) creating a hub for the people working at AmorePacific. F21 has recently been opened to employees and in-house start-ups. The headquarters was completed in 2017 by David Chipperfield Architects in the city center of Seoul. Contrary to the more subdued interior of the other floors, Kinzo’s design of the 3,100 sqm of F21 relies on a mixture of raw elements and bold colors. The contrast between the dark grid ceiling and the floor of large plywood panels is a playful concept - one of the many contrasts that promote an open and creative working atmosphere.
The c-shaped floor plan is divided into communal areas for collaborative work and areas for team work. The areas that open onto the inner courtyard connect a market square with a café and a lounge for spontaneous meetings with the so-called University. In addition to places for research, brainstorming and presentations, there is also a library in the University: up to 8,000 books can be accommodated in a podium that resembles an amphitheater. Informal meetings can be held inside the arena, too. The outer ring offers reading places.
In order to provide in-house start-ups with space to develop new ideas and products, Kinzo has created special team areas. These resemble typical Seoul houses with front gardens. Each “start-up family“ is provided with a 60 sqm area equipped with various basic elements which are flexible and can be arranged according to the needs of the teams. In addition to a team house for meetings and individually movable table elements for focus or team work, there is a multifunctional scaffolding that can be used as a partition, a place to relax or do sports, or a breakout zone. Just like a raw and unfinished artist studio can be a space for inspiration and development, F21 offers the greatest possible freedom for creativity, exchange of ideas and innovation.
Karim El-Ishmawi and Edoardo Albano talk about F21
How and where does the urban context influence and interfere with the AmroePacific Headquarters and its communal and workspaces?
Karim: The headquarters of AmorePacific is not only a sculptural solitaire and landmark building but also well embedded within the urban context and surrounding infrastructure. The building is directly connected with the metro and the generous atrium is open to the public, hosting many events and exhibitions. The work we have done on the 21st floor (F21) aimed to bring the vibrancy and colour from the urban context beneath to the top floor, creating a hub for the people working at Amorepacific.
What design aspects have to be considered to meet this diverse blend of collective and private activities?
Edoardo: Our task in F21 was to combine an innovation lab for the start-ups of Amorepacific with the so-called AP Cloud, a common area for the whole company. This area connects a market square with a café and a lounge for relaxing and spontaneous meetings with the so-called university. The university provides places for research, brainstorming and presentations as well as a library: up to 8,000 books can be accommodated in the periphery of a podium that resembles a coliseum. By nature, this implied the pursuit of a balance between the private sphere and the collective one. On a functional level, the communal activities are located in the introverted spaces, visually directed towards the building’s internal void and looking down to the open terrace and to the entrance hall. The extroverted areas, enriched by bright perspectives over the city of Seoul, are dedicated to the creative work. Kinzo’s design for the interior is based on the multiple layers of Seoul. It brings together the traditional housing of Gahoe-Dong, the rampant industries of Guro-Gu as well as a sophisticated taste for luxury. This diversity of the city called for complexity in the design.
What ‘soft factors’ do you see and envision for how we work today and in the future? Can you still draw boundaries and define space typologies?
Karim: The borderlines between different typologies of workplaces are progressively becoming more blurred. In this work revolution there are two main factors that can be highlighted as responsible: the evolution of hierarchies, and the change of time management. In the process of transformation, most companies are tackling the differences between employees, both in the administration and in the layouts of workspaces. This process still encounters certain areas of resistance, but it seems that the trend is irreversible. Probably even more drastic in its consequences is the evolution of time management; the gradual increase of scheduling freedom – ‘I work when I want and where I want’ – added a whole new set of ‘soft typologies’ to the game, such as the coworking typology, but also the concept of activity-based working. Current product design reflects these cultural change processes. Thus, in the café and library area of AP Cloud Vitra’s Soft Work islands unfurl their full potential. Let’s be honest: We all work on our sofas at home, why shouldn’t we do it in our offices, too?