Every O+A design begins with a story, but NetApp’s space is unique for the linear way it lays out the narrative, inviting visitors to move sequentially through NetApp’s culture in spaces curated for continuity and connection. The result is museum-like, but warmer. This is an Experience Center that truly offers experience, leading NetApp’s guests through interactive exhibits and functioning workstations. One of the design’s most striking features is the circular cloud that greets new arrivals in the lobby. This enclosure, echoing a classic performance structure that dates back to the ancient Greeks, is clad in LED panels on which images and data may be projected. Inside customer stories unfold on digital screens that surround the viewer in a fully immersive experience. But it’s a feature of NetApp’s customer-friendly design that the tech magic here is flanked by practical nomad’s-rest features—a place to stash luggage for guests coming directly from the airport, a café in which to grab a quick breakfast before touring the center.

Most of us learn to use new technology by plunging in. O+A designed NetApp’s Experience Center to welcome this hands-on approach. Product demonstration kiosks allow users to drive their own data management trials—at their own pace and according to their priorities. This Experience Center makes use of VR technology to a far greater extent than O+A has ever before attempted. VR pods invite guests to experience state-of-the-art visualizations, but in comfort and without the futuristic trappings of sci-fi. NetApp wanted these spaces to demonstrate technology in its warmest light, in effect to send the message: If NetApp is embracing this industry, so may we all. O+A adopted NetApp’s ethic of being an essential behind-the-scenes partner as a design theme. The tech dazzle on display in the Center’s featured spaces is augmented by comfort zones more suited to quiet contemplation or solitary work. These spaces draw on O+A’s traditional “Living Room,” “Library,” and “Town Hall” typologies to create comfortable and aesthetically pleasing support adjacencies to the showcase areas NetApp’s guests will see first. For O+A’s designers a personal goal was to make “behind the scenes” as memorable as “center stage.”