Children’s World or Detsky mir is the largest children’s goods retailer in Russia. First opened as a department store in 1947, Detsky mir soon expanded into a nationwide chain. Today there are over 700 stores throughout Russia and Kazakhstan.
With expansion came a desire to modernise the work environment, and the company relocated its headquarters to a former printing factory that would facilitate an open layout. The building was constructed in 1978, a rational structure of silicate brick that had an additional wing built on, creating an L-shaped floor plan.
The task was to accommodate a demanding program of interaction between numerous departments and allow for future team expansion. Immersion into the world of childhood, openness and availability to all are core values that the company stands for, and these were taken as a starting point for the design solution.
Two central ideas characterise the project: distorted proportion and the workplace as a board game. Distorted proportion is about the sense of largeness and altered perception that we experience as children, where objects and spaces are seen not for their rational functional value, but as playscapes onto which the imagination projects an expanded reality. This was used in the approach to form, furnishings and decorative elements across the office.
The board game proved to be a fruitful analogy for conceiving the office layout. Its constituents of field, grid and playing figure characterise the various typologies of space.
The reception zone marks the starting point of the game, with cues that gather the entire idea of the office in one place. Recognisable symbols of Detsky mir such as its logo colours, shop windows and toys become functional objects that greet the visitor.
Next we enter the playing field of open plan workspace, with navigation signs becoming a pattern on the floor used to direct flow. Worktables take up all areas along the windows, while the darker central spaces are used for circulation and closed facilities. These central volumes were considered as markers or game figures, which function as focal points within a neutral interior and house meeting rooms, staff dining areas and storage facilities.
The board game grid materialises into a lighting system that spans across the entire floor. It is used as a colour coding element, with each of the four floors assigned a colour of the Detsky mir logo — red, yellow, blue and green.
The idea of board games is carried through into meeting room designs. Popular games such as backgammon, noughts and crosses, pinball were distilled into bold recognisable patterns that define and name each meeting room. Custom designed lounge seating plays with the idea of sliced candy and oversized soft toys.
Across the floor there are illustrations positioned at key focal points. These were largely influenced by murals and artistic signage that would signify various types of produce within the original Detsky mir department store.
Architecture: Vera Odyn, Olga Treivas, Polina Dudkina, Julia Semkova, Alina Yaroshenko, Dilyara Mukhamedova, Victoria Kosichenko, Svetlana Dudina, Fedor Katcuba, Polina Kotelnikova
Photography: Ilya Ivanov