During these past decades the nature of the modern work place is rapidly evolving. Due to researchers’ exploration of the impact of interior working spaces on productivity, creativity, and well-being, working styles are significantly changing. Microsoft’s workplace design guideline explicitly promotes the company’s belief that the working space is for the employee and visitor, and that their branding is more than just about logos and colors. As it appears, this global brand has gone beyond itself and towards the customized comfort of their employees and visitors from all over the world.
The task of designing Microsoft’s office in Skopje, Macedonia, was handed over to KL Studio architects and they delivered an intriguing interior design which focuses on the experience of the place and the expression of local values and culture. Entering a new building in Skopje’s center, and in order to de-homogenize the already standardized office space, KL Studio started by removing the plasterboard ceiling, which exposed the concrete slab, and by “re-designing” the entire flooring. The office floor was covered with carpeting tailored according to ethnic Macedonian (carpet) patterns, which were reproduced in a large scale and with an adapted color pallet. In a play of function and meaning, the vintage carpet bearing the genuine pattern was displayed as an artwork in the reception area. In this manner the infiltration of Macedonian ethnographic design patterns was subtly done and literal representations of archetypical cultural signs were skillfully avoided.
Another key element of the office is the kitchen area - designed to imprint a bistro brunch/lunch feel to a compact and modern home kitchen. The whole office has a home-office feel as spaces are designed open and dynamic, and the furniture suggests a laid-back friendly atmosphere. Leisure, literally, fills the air. Basically, that is how KL Studio collaborated with Microsoft in the evolving design of the everyday work place, this time with a “local touch.”
To achieve this atmosphere, KL Studio combined both: carefully selected pieces of furniture from diverse brands and their own custom designed furniture, which was hand-made in Skopje by local craftsman. KL Studio’s custom designed the “3D-grid-like-plant shelf” and the somewhat unexpected, yet refreshing, metal lockers. They also included wall-papers with faded photographs of Skopje’s modernistic - iconic concrete buildings built during the reconstruction of Skopje after the devastating earthquake of 1963 and usually embedded in the local collective memory as representatives of solidarity and team work for a better future.
Dijana Omeragic Apostolski