The office as a glorified adult playground

Midori House - The Monocle HQ

Tyler Brûlé in his weekly Financial Times article took to task last week the newly unveiled YouTube offices in London.

On Wednesday a press release fluttered off my colleague Hugo’s desk and landed at my feet. I stared at the images and tried to figure out what I was looking at. Was it a hotel? A nightclub? Tarted-up jumble sale for vintage furniture? The set of a US cable TV series about the early days of the porn industry?

Mr. Brûlé then goes into a 329 word diatribe about the niche tech companies fall into when designing their offices. Usually outlandish, mostly child-like, these spaces seem to offer a more viable place to do keg stands, rather than get some work done. And while I feel that Mr. Brûlé’s article may have been a bit overly dramatic, I think the core of his message has some great points.

When I think of really great functioning spaces I think of the work of Neutra, Eichler, Saarinen or Gropius. Each one of them created functional spaces that allowed work to thrive, free of slides, ball pits or ping pong tables. It’s almost as if the moden day “cool office” is more centered around living at the office, rather than it being a place to to do business. I don’t believe an office space needs to be fun, I think it needs to be functional and beautiful.

You can compare the office of Monocle, dubbed Midori House, to the new office of YouTube London and you’ll see what I mean. In my mind Midori House was built to last, to have the appearance of timelessness. YouTube London on the other hand already looks like something dug up from the 90’s. Perhaps it’s a part of getting older that makes me look at things differently? Gone are the days of shiny objects catching my attention, replaced by a desire for things that are sturdy and long lasting.

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October 11, 2012 / By