At IKEA they have a vision ‘to create a better everyday life for the many people’ and this is a vision that includes both their customers and employees. Flexible working space is one of the key trends for office design, and a company like IKEA – for whom office design is paramount – is helping to set the trend.

The brief

Flexibility, getting back to nature, and creating an attractive, yet functional, workspace is increasingly important for employee well-being. IKEA, the market leaders in affordable home products, have taken the idea of a biophilic approach seriously and saw a ‘kindred spirit’ in the design of our acoustic hubs. At IKEA they have been developing stylish, but affordable, home furniture and goods for years. They are all about making your space look comfortable and attractive, and they have taken on board the move to ‘homeify’ the workplace.

The trend for a more simplistic and unassuming lifestyle is becoming more frequently reflected in our choices for the home and office. The growing recognition that we are refreshed and re-energised when we are able to reach out to the natural world has led to designs which echo this need. The design of the Hushhub is simple, but solid. It is a modular system which allows total flexibility, and, in keeping with our ecological ethos, will stand the test of time.

IKEA specified 6 acoustic 1m x 1.2m telephone booths and 2 larger study booths – 2m x 1.2m in size – that could fit within an open plan environment at their head office in London. The Hushhubs needed to be modular units with ease of assembly, which could be moved easily if desired, and we needed to provide units which fitted within the company’s ethos of working for people and the planet.

What we did

Acoustic hubs are made looking at the big picture. The glass walls of these acoustic office pods allow visual inclusion with the office, while blocking any unwanted noise. Each acoustic pod has a simple, but solid, post and beam construction. The telephone booth Hushhub is small but perfectly formed. It creates the perfect acoustic space for that impromptu phone call, away from the noise and distraction of the open office.

The 2m x 1.2m acoustic pod creates an intimate, quiet study room, suitable for working on individual projects away from the crowd. A hub that could easily be placed within a large open plan office, or within a reception area, it gives the opportunity to break away to a quiet area for private study or individual work. The Hushhubs allow people some privacy and a place to think, while the two glazed sides still allow plenty of light and sight of what is going on around them.

This sets Hushhubs apart from the crowd. Not only that - the biophilic approach of our design helps to create a welcoming environment and has a marked effect on people’s creativity. The use of natural wood, laminated glass and natural fabrics also improves the acoustic efficacy of each hub. It’s also possible to customise all of our office hubs with the customer’s own choice of colours, fabrics, laminates and manifestations – which was very important to IKEA. They were able to make this workspace their own and give it an identity.

The results

The acoustically effective office hubs allow the employees at IKEA head office to work away from the distraction of office noise, yet still feel part of the team. A return to nature is key to the thinking behind Hushhubs with the natural wood and laminated glass echoing IKEA’s own biophilic ethos. And IKEA’s own light fittings and furniture complement the acoustic hubs perfectly.

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