The term “corporate headquarters” often brings to mind an intimidating environment, full of modular furniture, fluorescent lights and joyless gray cubicles. For many years, there were scant deviations to be found.
In the 21st century, that rule book has been tossed out the window. The new one has been written by veterans of the tech boom, the start-up boom and the dotcom boom, and this new “old guard” has changed the rules.
Now that corporate norms no longer apply across the board, nontraditional office spaces have become more common. Workplaces have emerged that differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack and embody the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their company founders. In other words, these workplaces are out to be cool.
Read ahead to see some of the coolest corporate headquarters in the world.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 13 July 2012
Red Bull was created by the Austrian Red Bull GmbH company in 1987, and as the company's motto says, it’s been giving people 'wings' ever since.
Red Bull is the most popular energy drink in the world, a fact borne out by the 4.6 billion cans sold worldwide in 2011 to the tune of $5.2 billion.
By its own count, Red Bull employs over 8,000 people in 164 countries, including the U.K., where the company has its London headquarters. Designed by Jump Studios in London, the unique-looking location takes up three floors, which employees can ascend by a staircase and descend by a slide.
Metrick System is a marketing firm based in Toronto, and according to its website, the company helped market Viagra. Crayon Design is responsible for creating the unique look of their corporate headquarters.
The office is in a 5,800-square-foot industrial space. Instead of cubicles, individual office spaces are inside of Airstream trailers.
In an article in Canadian Interiors, company president and creative director Laurence Metrick said, “I knew we got it right when the first 10 guests asked if they could rent an office here.”
Skywalker Ranch is the headquarters of the filmmaker George Lucas, the man behind "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones," franchises so lucrative that they’ve given him a net worth of $3.2 billion. The ranch, on a bucolic parcel of land in Marin County, Calif., has a barn, vineyards and garden.
The charming Victorian ranch house contains a two-story library with a stained-glass dome. The field where deer graze is actually situated above a hidden underground garage. The notoriously secretive filmmaker wanted his headquarters to provide him with quiet and privacy.
When the name of your company becomes a verb, you know you’ve hit the big time. Such is the case with search engine giant Google, which reported “cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities” of $44.6 billion as of Dec. 31, 2011.
Google’s office in Zurich has gained particular attention for its workspace, which BBC News described as “wacky.” Designed by Camenzind Evolution, it’s a haven of beanbag furniture, neon signs, egg-shaped private work areas and a fire pole to slide down from floor to floor.
Many tech companies have offices that suggest the architect saw a few too many episodes of “The Jetsons.” The social networking service Twitter, which received a $300 million investment from Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia in 2011, has gone 180 degrees by moving into a 1939 art deco building in San Francisco.
"A revitalized building like SF Mart offered Twitter several key advantages,” Ed Axelsen, Twitter’s director of facilities, said in a statement. “It's centrally located for public transportation; the building has lots of light, it has huge floor plates, it offered the possibility of outdoor space; and perhaps most appealing, it's an historic building that is being revitalized for modern use."
LEGO has made children’s toys for decades, so it stands to reason that its workplace should reflect a playful attitude. The corporate headquarters of LEGO in Billund, Denmark, embodies this logic.
Designed by Rune Fjord Studio, the space looks less like an office than a hybrid toy store and bouncy house. The office has bold, primary colors and curved furniture, as well as beanbag chairs and the slide that has become de rigueur in nontraditional offices.
The e-commerce website Etsy was founded in 2005 and sells handcrafted items like artwork and knitted goods.
Its rise has been quick. In 2006, it recorded sales of $170,000. A year later, sales increased 10 times that amount. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that Etsy had been valued at over $600 million.
The New York Times described the site in a 2007 article called "Rooting Around Grandma’s Basement in Cyberspace," and the corporate headquarters in Brooklyn reinforces this impression. The workspace is a pastiche of wooden tables, antique rugs and hanging vinyl LPs that recalls a craft fair crossed with a vintage clothing store.
Over more than three decades, MTV has transformed itself from a music video channel to a global broadcaster of diverse content. It’s still based in New York, but it has offices around the world, including this one in Berlin.
The office was designed by Dan Pearlman GmbH, an architecture firm based in the German capital. The space includes an open atrium with curved ceiling fixtures, ideal for business meetings and casual lunches.
Jung von Matt is a German advertising agency founded in 1991. Its Hamburg office is in a 19th century factory building redesigned in 2011 by Steven Williams Associates.
Executives share what's been called “the elephant house.” In that area, all of the directors use one table, and those needing a separate space have only the two small “quiet rooms” to withdraw to.
According to the website, "stationery and personal items are kept in custom-built containers strongly resembling feeding troughs."