hen digital marketing agency Wunderman – whose clients include heavyweights like Nokia, Ford, Microsoft, Kraft, the Coca-Cola Company, and Adidas – approached HOK to design their new office in Los Angeles, the brief was deceptively simple: avoid the corporate world’s cubicle maze in favor of creative, collaborative spaces. Wunderman would occupy the bulk of the space, with several smaller areas dedicated to WPP sister companies Y&R and MEC Active Engagement . “They didn’t want it to look like a typical high-rise office,” says HOK principal Pam Light. So she went in search of “a cool loft, but we couldn’t find one that was right size, in the right place, and for the right cost.” Instead, they landed on a single level within a textbook Orange County office tower, yet HOK’s 25,000-square-foot interiors are anything but staid.
Over one-hundred staffers share the office, which leaves less than 200 square feet of workspace per person. To accommodate the tight budget and limited legroom, HOK introduced freestanding display partitions in lieu of walls and an exposed ceiling with mechanical ducting. Existing concrete floors got polished or covered with high-performance nylon carpet, which, coupled with furniture selections and low-level lighting, channel a residential vibe requested by the client. “Wunderman wanted everyone to feel really comfortable when wandering around and meeting peers, and to have their clients feel the same way as well,” says Light. To capture the agency’s creative mission, she lined walls and partitions with graphics by the client or local graffiti artist Shark Toof. Bold colors and textures throughout add what HOK dubs client-approved “noise.” According to Light, “Now when Wunderman calls up clients for meetings, the clients say, ‘oh we’ll come to your office.’” Mission accomplished.