Samsen, a specialist technology consultancy, lets its employees choose how, when and where they work and with which clients. The company’s office set-up led to the unusual interior.
“When we did our first presentation for Samsen, they first went quiet,” Note Design Studio interior architect Susanna Wåhlin recalled.
“They had to explain to us that they didn’t want an office at all – they just wanted to work in a wine bar. The whole idea is to offer employees something different, and add real value besides going to work every day.”
The studio, founded in 2008 by Johannes Carlström and Cristiano Pigazzini, was charged with creating a warm and welcoming space that was pleasant and practical to work, dine, drink and socialise in.
The brief stipulated that it needed to be equally suited to use in both day and night, and had to accommodate a large number of people in a relatively small space.
A wide variety of flexible seating set-ups were required to accommodate different types of work as well as areas for entertaining clients, industry peers and friends.
The HQ, named the Samsen Atelier, occupies what used to be a jewellery boutique in the city’s central Odenplan plaza.
The floor plan is laid out across two connected rooms – one with a large communal table that can be used for dining or collaborative work, and another with a bar lined with stools, a trio of cafe tables, and bespoke upholstered benches beneath two large windows.
This set-up allows for group gatherings, one-to-one chats and individual work to take place simultaneously and creates a vibrant atmosphere even when relatively few people are on site.
The material and colour palette is informed by the small bars and cafes found in Japan, which the studio describes as “spaces that often seem tiny, but have a surprising capacity to hold a large number of people thanks to clever seating arrangements”.
The interior balances warm and cool colours and combines traditional stained softwood with concrete and steel accents.
The wooden cabinets on the walls are a direct reference to Japanese interiors, as is the half-length curtain that divides the two rooms. Another curtain separates the kitchen area, which houses brushed metal units from Copenhagen-based kitchen brand Reform that contrast with the otherwise warm, yellow-brown palette.
A bespoke bar made from chunky slabs of limestone sits in front of bespoke cabinetry and a tall wine fridge, also designed by Note.
A number of other items of furniture in the space were created by Note especially for Samsen, including a yellow shelving unit on the wall, integrated window benches, and the large yellow communal table, which is surrounded by black chairs from the Candid collection that the studio designed for Zilio A&C.
A bent tubular steel lamp by American design studio Rich Brilliant Willing hangs above the communal table and in the adjoining space, the bar stools, café chairs and tables have been sourced from Mattiazzi.
Power outlets are positioned to enable easy access from all seating areas and the silver curtain on the wall conceals a whiteboard. Two large screens can be used for presentations, as well as for video gaming and showing sports events.
“Where ‘normal’ corporations expect that the office will create relationships within their team – and thus forming a company culture – many newer companies that want to be more flexible struggle to build the same sense of togetherness,” said Tomas Måsviken, co-founder of Samsen.
“Often, the solution takes the form of mandatory team-building activities such as conferences and seminars. The Samsen Atelier is our vision of what the alternative could be – it’s our belief that the time we do spend together will be done freely, and will therefore be much more meaningful and personal.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated long-standing workplace trends that embrace flexibility and employee satisfaction.
Recent research from office design leader Steelcase has shown that working from home during the pandemic has changed people’s expectations of their workplaces.
A report compiled by the brand identifies four “macro shifts” that it believes organisations will need to address as employees return to working at the office.
Note Design Studio recently completed an office interior in London that aimed to “break the grid” of its 1930s office building.
Photography is by Joakim Johansson.