This was the year that the individual cries against the open office became a chorus: from loss of privacy and concentration to an increase in coworker friction, it seems that employers benefit more from the cost-cutting layout than actual employees. That’s why this year we saw several alternatives that aimed to become a bridge between both worlds, keeping the open layout for bottom-line purposes but providing workers with flexible spaces that better adapt to their working styles.

Here are the top five open-workplan case studies of the year on Frameweb, Frame and the Frame Awards.

Photos by Rafael Gamo


‘The open-office backlash is having a moment, with many in the industry increasingly calling for the return of cubicles in order to save dwindling attention spans – Apple Park employees were said to be ‘in revolt’ over Norman Foster’s valley of a plan in their new headquarters. Gensler saw this as an opportunity to draw a flexible line: in order to make working styles as democratic as possible, instead of equalising they decided to respect the preferred layout of each team member. During the design process, every one of the 500 employees was offered a choice from a variety of spaces, both open and enclosed, public or private, to accommodate their focus styles.’

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Photos by BoysPlayNice


‘Many companies are focusing on implementing these human-centric structures within their office spaces – but unlike SinnerSchrader’s Prague office, they can’t say they have a skate park in their office. Within the studio, the main corridor is fashioned as a diagonal axis, one that opens up all of the elements of the space in a skate-able route. Employees can cruise along from the main entrance to the open terrace or stop and chat with a colleague along the way.’

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Photos by Tuomas Uusheimo


‘To present a space conducive to such freedom of use, the interior design team took some radical measures: all doors were removed, with the exception of meeting rooms and bathrooms; they also turned the central area into a marketplace, with an open kitchen that effectively serves as the social hub of the office. And here’s what might be the most radical decision: the entire office, all 470 sq-m of it, has but a single rubbish bin. The idea behind this is that walking to dispose of items keeps the body active and refreshed, but the longer the path, the more opportunities for interaction it provides.’

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Photos courtesy of Roar


‘For the junior staff, Pallavi Dean created a special break space with bean bags where they could recline while parallel to the floor, with the liberty of writing on a customised wall and the chance to take conference calls. Oh, and just to drive the point home, the wallpaper features a pattern of rebel banana peels – because this team is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.’

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Photos by Kenta Hasegawa


‘The central area includes a large shifting storage unit, integrated into the open floorplan through desks made moveable by track rails embedded in the floor. The mobilisation of furniture is echoed by the natural light channelled through the space by reflective metal floor and ceiling surfaces. Sea-foam green is the primary colour, accented by pops of bright yellow in the main area and grounded by the dark rust and natural wood of the minimalist furniture.’

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Find out what trends emerged from the most popular retail, hospitality and workspace interiors of 2018 in our Reader's Choice section.