Okamura×GARDE What is the future of work and office design from the perspective of global office design?~Challenging Change~.Webinar Report!

On Thursday, January 20, Okamura, which has designed offices in Asia and other countries, and GARDE, which has designed offices mainly for foreign companies, held an online seminar.

The seminar was moderated by Yusuke Yamada, Editor-in-Chief of Okamura Corporation’s WORK MILL, and started with a presentation by Kenta Kawaguchi of Okamura Corporation’s Global Design Center on the theme of “Creating an office that encourages, not fears, change.

Based on examples from Southeast Asia, he explained in detail the elements necessary for offices to “transform from a place of work to a place of communication” from both software and hardware perspectives. As an example, in the design of the Okamura Bangkok office, to respect the identity and values born from the Thai environment and culture.he explained the adoption of “biophilic design”and A monk prays after the office is completed . I was able to hear some very fresh and interesting stories.

On the other hand, Francesco, a designer from GARDE, gave a presentation on “ABW/Agile Working”, which is said to be difficult to promote and spread in Japan after its introduction, under the theme of “Solutions to problems learned from ABW pilots”.

The combination of the pilot project and ABW/Agile working has many advantages even in the midst of uncertainty due to the impact of Corona, such as “the ability to try out scenarios based on various ways of working,” “the ability to make adjustments even in case of failure, and the ability to implement on a relatively small budget,” and “the ability to verify effectiveness and understand problems (PDCA). I also strongly felt that it is something that can be expected to have the potential for unique evolution and development in the future in office design in Japan, where unique cultures and environments still persist. After each company’s presentation, heated cross-talk was exchanged on how to make global standards and local standards coexist.

Through the presentations of the two companies, (1) communication and collaboration spaces will be secured. (2) Provide space (play) that can be adapted to various styles. I felt that the two companies had these things in common. Despite the hour and a half long session, more than 170 people attended, which showed how much attention and importance is being given to creating offices that respond to changes in work styles.

Well, GARDE will be planning and implementing many seminars and events focusing on the web. We also accept requests for our designers to appear in events co-hosted or organized by your company at any time. If you are interested, please contact us!





■Seminar Overview
Title:What is the future of work and office design from the perspective of global office design?~Challenging Change~.
Date and time:Thursday, January 20, 2022, 15:00-16:30
Method:Webinar (using ZOOM Webinar)
Guest Speakers:Okamura Co. Kenta Kawaguchi, Global Design Center,
GARDE Co. Takanori Tsukiashi、Francesco Ristori
moderator:Okamura Co. Yusuke Yamada, Editor-in-Chief of WORK MILL


GARDE exhibits at the world’s largest furniture fair, Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2021, in Milan!

Milano Salone Internazionale del Mobile held from September 5 to 10, 2021, is said to be the most exciting event in the world of interior design, where manufacturers and designers from all over Europe gather to present the year’s design trends before anyone else.

The event was threatened due to the new coronavirus, but it was held under the condition that the various guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus were followed.

During the event, we had an exhibition at the GARDE Italy office and gave a presentation on our latest achievements, especially on large-scale projects, and more than 100 people from the industry visited the GARDE Italy booth.

At the reception, we had the chance to have a very valuable and meaningful exchange with industry professionals from Japan and abroad over delicious Italian drinks and snacks.

Here are just a few of the highlights of “Milano Salone 2021”.

◆The Event

GARDE Italy booth. We had many visitors come visit.

◆The Exhibition

We introduced the latest achievements of GARDE through panels and monitors.

Every year, during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, GARDE organizes several events for industry professionals from around the world. Next year, we hope introduce the latest of GARDE to many again.

Report on the Ningbo Hankyu Conference

The first Hankyu Department store in China, Ningbo Hankyu, opened last April 16, 2021. Being one of the projects developed under the Cool Japan Organization, it took four years for the retail outlet to open after various twists and turns since its start in 2017. GARDE was involved in the exterior and interior design of the aforementioned property.

GARDE has been involved in several opening projects, such as the Nishinomiya Hankyu opening in 2008, the Hakata Hankyu in 2011, and the Umeda Main Store in 2012. This time, GARDE has created a new commercial facility based on the concept of “China’s first experiential shopping mall” that combines the strengths of a department store with those of a shopping center. The project has gotten off to a strong start for a large-scale commercial facility, and its attention has grown tremendously. Therefore, in response to an enthusiastic request from within the industry, Hankyu Department Store held a seminar on May 28, 2021, on “Keys to Success in Developing a New Style of Commercial Facility”. The seminar was attended by about 80 people from local department stores and shopping centers, and GARDE, which was involved in the concept work and design of the project, gave a presentation.
Yutaka Yamamoto, the design director, took the stage remotely from Japan. The following is an excerpt of Yamamoto’s speech about the design of Ningbo Hankyu.

• Concept
When we created the concept, we had two major things in mind. The first was to create an oasis where people can gather and spend time comfortably, as Ningbo is a new urban area that will continue to develop. The second is to introduce Japanese content, not simply by expressing traditional Japanese culture as it is, but by incorporating it into a modern design that is sublimated.
The concept that emerged was “J FOREST GARDEN”. The concept is based on three elements: “J Culture” = traditional Japanese culture, “Nature” = nature motifs, and “Modern” = contemporary.

• Floor Expansion
The sales floor area of Ningbo Hankyu is about 2.5 times larger than that of the Umeda flagship store. We paid close attention to the spatial configuration of the entire building so that customers can move around this large sales floor without getting bored.

Since one floor is too spacious, a single worldview may bore customers. Therefore, we divided the space into three zones to create the pleasure of circulation. The central area of each zone has a dynamic ceiling design  unrestricted to the guidelines, emphasizing the changing zones.

Each floor has a different design theme in order to create a space where visitors can enjoy the experience of a different worldview spread vertically. In the central zone, the plaza connected by the atrium between the 2nd and 3rd floor, and the Gyeongjeon Plaza between the 4th and 7th floor, which is the centerpiece of the entire building, are positioned as the central core of a vertical axis. The dome is inspired by the traditional Japanese architectural technique of woodwork and was designed by sublimating the traditional Japanese technique into a modern design. This is the center of the museum, where visitors can relax on the grand staircase and where large-scale events are held to introduce various goods, activities, and cultures from around the world. We designed this dome as a symbolic space in which people gather to see it and have it etched in their memories.

Qingti Plaza in the central zone on the 4th floor

• Exterior Design
The design includes a welcoming entrance, as we wanted to create a striking yet friendly design that conveys the richness of nature and hospitality that is symbolic of J FOREST GARDEN.
The curtain wall of the upper level is based on the image of “water and forest” as its nature-themed, expressing natural and soft streamlines such as flowing water and ridges of mountains showcasing a forest design. The building is also designed to create beautiful shadows using light, making it an iconic landscape of the new city center.
The lower levels are designed to resemble trees in a forest, using branches and leaves as well as a modern stone pattern where the height was adjusted to attract people to the installation.  

The north and south entrances, which serve as the faces of Ningbo Hankyu, symbolizes Hankyu elegance, the DNA of the Hankyu Department Store, expressing the high-quality standards of the brand.
The entrance façade design consists of custom-made reliefs featuring waves, flowers, stars, and sandstone (Crema Marfil) as part of the brand DNA, created together with the Hankyu Department Store when the Hankyu Umeda Main Store was rebuilt.

Exterior appearance

In many ways, this project was the culmination of all of Hankyu Department Store’s design work to date.
Ningbo Hankyu, being born in Ningbo, represented the sublimation of its history and tradition nurtured in Japan and their future is to attract more and more attention from the public.

Property Information
Location: No. 189, Haiyanbei Road, Yinzhou District, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China
Total commercial floor area: 176,000m2 (6 floors above ground and 1 floor below ground)
Number of tenants: 380 stores

Scope of work: Exterior design, interior design

Design Director
Yutaka Yamamoto
Director, Design Division, Design Department 1
Yutaka Yamamoto is active in the design and direction of large commercial facilities including department stores. He oversaw the design of the sales floor for the Hankyu Umeda Main Store renovation project and the general direction of Nishinomiya Hankyu. He was responsible for the design of the 3rd and 4th floors for the entire renovation of Ginza Mitsukoshi. Overseas, he directed the renovation of the entire DOOTA building in Seoul, the new PARKSON Johor Bahru store, etc. In 2019, his project was the watch section on the 5th floor of Isetan Shinjuku. Yutaka Yamamoto is also the general design director of Ningbo Hankyu, which opened in 2021, and has extensive experience in designing large commercial facilities in Japan and overseas.

GARDE’s Executive Officer & Director Christopher Brooks Discusses the Future of Office Design Post-COVID 19 in Japan Times Interview

GARDE Executive Officer and Director Christopher Brooks was invited as a guest speaker at the talk event “Sustainable Japan Roundtable” hosted by The Japan Times, in which he discussed the future of office design POST-Covid 19, based on his wealth of experience in office design.

As the world is forced to fight the novel corona virus, Christopher feels that what workers want in an office is changing. It’s not just about being functional, but more about what you do there. At the same time, ABW (Activity-based Working) is also advancing. In the past, offices were divided into departments, and people usually worked in a limited space, but now there is no need to create such distinctions or boundaries, and people are realizing that freeing themselves from their desks is a natural progression. With ABW, offices can be designed according to what people do, and 100% remote work is now possible, allowing people to work more and more efficiently.

Eventually, the office will become a place for teams to collaborate and communicate, and the place to concentrate on work will be at home or somewhere other than the office. At the same time, however, we must never forget the importance of our co-workers, and that is what makes us feel part of the organization. It is very important to communicate with your colleagues on a regular basis so that you do not feel isolated.

Some people who have become accustomed to working remotely move to areas where rent is cheaper, and they can enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. However, housing in Japan is generally small, and there are a certain number of people who prefer to do their work outside the home. In response to this trend, “coworking spaces” such as those operated by WeWork have expanded. But of course, there is a limit to the number and scale of such spaces, so some companies are considering setting up satellite offices where their staff can easily commute.

For future office design, he offers three important guidelines.

  1. Develop an internal infrastructure that can handle the spread of remote work.
  2. The office should be flexible. We still do not know what the future holds for Corona. It is important to be able to respond to a variety of scenarios.
  3. A new way to evaluate employees. In the past, coming to work was the norm, so being in the office was important, but from now on, we need to evaluate employees based on their performance.

Providing a hygienic and safe working environment is also a very important point that has spread rapidly in the Corona disaster. There are many other issues that need to be addressed, such as ventilation, air purification systems, sterilization, and physical distance.

In the post-corona world, while many cultural and logistical issues have arisen, Christopher concludes that in these challenges we are in turn forced to look for opportunities to make fresh innovations in both design and work culture at large. In doing so, we can look at this changing environment as an exciting new frontier in which, through trial and error, new and exciting discoveries can be made.

An example of an office social space from one of Christopher’s past design projects.  A patterned rustic rope communication kiosk is placed at the center surrounded by graphics inspired by the blooming of iris flowers during the rainy season.                                                   
Photo Credit: Nacasa & Partners

Christopher Brooks

International Design Division, General Manager, Design Director, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Master’s degree in Architecture. He has experience in retail, office and residential design in the United States, Japan and Asia. His key projects are the restaurant ADD in Marco Polo Hotel Hong Kong, Bandai Namco Studios Headquarters, adidas Japan Headquarters (Asia Pacific Property Awards) and MetLife Japan Headquarters (Herman Miller Liveable Office Award, IDA Gold & Silver awards).

Click here for more of the Sustainable Japan Roundtable by The Japan Times

Click here for the archived video.

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