#ARCHISPEAK – Architect Corvin Cristian

We’re excited to present you a long-awaited interview with one of the most respected architects in Romania. For our #ARCHISPEAK interview series, Arch. Corvin Cristian talks about NN Offices – a 4000 SQM project that impressed us from the moment we saw it.

What’s the particularity of NN Offices space?

The particularity is the combination of natural materials and restraint colour palette, a kind of premiere in Romanian office design landscape.

Does brand identity and office design relate to one another in this workspace?

It does. In a discreet but nonetheless efficient way. Branding is surprisingly often interpreted as a bold wall-to-wall graphic representation of the typographic branding manual whereas branding is much more than that and, above all, not that.

Over branding is a common disease in nowadays offices as there is a tendency to literally confound graphic identity with interior design or architecture. Of course, as it is very first hand, one is tempted to buy carpet, for instance, in the colours of the company logo for instance or to paint the walls likewise. Studies show that employees get irritated by such practices and instead of embracing the culture of the company tend to reject it as it feels intruding and patronizing.

NN is a well-established company with a more than 100 years history, a strong company culture and NN employees are really proud of being part of it so, together with the board we got to the conclusion that the interior design should express the values of the company in discreet and refined way.

The restraint color palette (basically just grey) with only little touches of orange speak about the Dutch origin of the company as well as about efficiency and no-nonsense approach and the natural materials (natural ash veneer and massive ash elements) are enhancing the well-being and appeal to the sense of touch.

Could you tell us more about the architectural concept?

Through this re-design NN went from a classical workplace to the “shared desk” typology, which involves a very democratic approach to the layout. One of our proposals in order to enhance this idea was to have an “agora” right in the centre of the floor, as the ones in the Greek ancient cities which functions as a hub, as a non-bookable ad-hoc meeting room (first come-first served), town hall or simply as alternative working place.

What are some current trends you’re seeing when it comes to office design?

For a few years one obvious one is the “homey office”. That is, obviously, an office that looks and perhaps feels like home… While I think it’s a welcomed change from the “Playground” office, I guess we should be moderate with it as one of the reasons behind this trend is to blur the line between home and office hence to spend more time at work.

We, as humans though, function in cycles: day/night, workdays, weekends, seasons, etc. Blurring the lines between those cycles might be productive in the short term but surprisingly unproductive in the long term.

Another quite recent trend is the “biophilic” design. While there’s nothing wrong with recalling nature in the office environment, if it’s done by means of plastic plants, primitive patterns, “green walls” which are in truth dead lichens, for instance, it can be quite damaging and throwing into derision the idea of nature.

How does interior design enhance performance, health and wellness on employees?

Apart the obvious benefits of a functional design I will add that beauty is useful.

What are your thoughts on the importance of floor coverings in interior design today?

Especially with the widespread of the open plan office, the acoustic qualities of the floor are crucial for enabling proper concentration at work.