When the international music company Sony commissioned the interior design of the new German and European headquarters of Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing in Berlin, the interior designers from studio karhard were aware that they would be dealing with a highly demanding working environment in which the fundamental qualities of the products, i.e. precision of content and acoustic brilliance, had to be reflected.
At the same time, the company was interested not only in performance, presentation and production possibilities, but also in a generally communicative atmosphere that allowed freedom, which they expected from the move to Berlin, into an eighties building characterised by a lot of steel and glass. The Sony Music CFO wanted it to be “a bit rougher, more creative”.
In addition to accommodating the usual administrative and logistical services, the primary goal was to create a new meeting place in the city where staff, artists and music makers, guests and journalists could not only meet, but also wanted to. One of the creative culmination points is the airy cafeteria with stage and bar, the others manifest themselves in a wide variety of special rooms. What is needed above all are well-insulated music listening rooms in the immediate vicinity of the work areas, not to mention the in-house sound studio.
In the Open Spaces, quirky telephone boxes lend themselves to video calls and small team conferences – inside, colourful fabrics and infinity lights. They complement the basic furnishings with offices and conference rooms.
Each label and each company area was given an individual office aesthetic. The latest media technology everywhere is a matter of course – but also noble elegance, which is due to a harmonious combination of black asphalt screed, cream-white washed concrete and backlit glass slats including dimmed lighting.
The all-important press conferences are held in a multifunctional room whose wide larch floorboards, white media walls and colourfully printed curtains are discreetly reminiscent of a yoga studio. Inner relaxation increases the attention of the guests.
What do you consider to be the supporting qualities of a good workplace?
Alexandra Erhard / Thomas Karsten: An inspiring atmosphere, a high standard of room quality, combined with optimal room acoustics, variable light over the course of the day and haptically pleasant materials for table and other surfaces.
Do you see any comparability in room design for living and for working?
When designing a home, there are certainly many more individual requirements that come into play. The choice of colours, furniture and surfaces in our residential projects is highly individualised and often experimental or adapted to a specific use or spatial effect. A workplace serves a concentrated or communicative activity and should therefore be rather stringent and practical. What is interesting, however, is the design of the areas of a company that are reserved for communication. Although these should also be practical, they should be equally sophisticated in terms of design and create a dense atmosphere.
Which material-related aspects are decisive for you in the future development of workspaces?
The feel of a material is always important. We prefer natural materials that people like to touch and that develop a patina. In the future, sustainability will play a major role. We are already looking forward to tiles made of algae, insulation made of mushrooms, carpet made of fishing nets and CO2-neutral shell concrete.
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