When Giant Pixel approached Studio O+A to design its new headquarters, the software developer wanted a studio office that would also echo the look of Charles and Ray Eames’s workshop. And The Jetsons, too.
“It was up to us to marry that all together in one cohesive design,” says Denise Cherry, a principal at Studio O+A (the design team behind Facebook’s and Square’s offices, to name a couple). To capture a 1960s-era, but still futuristic look, Cherry and O+A designer Neil Bartley settled on a spare office with a few marquee pieces, including a large perforated-steel screen that makes up the entryway. The screen reads the opening crawl from Star Wars: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
…in binary code. “These engineers are self-professed nerds, so we did something that was in their language,” Bartley says. “[The Giant Pixel team] jokes that they’ll bring recruits in and if candidates could understand the message they get off to a good start.”
The Star Wars-inspired screen is fun (“it’s a secret little nod,” Bartley tells Co.Design), but it also ties into Studio O+A’s larger goal: designing offices that can foster company culture, instead of designing wacky, amusement-park-like offices and assuming they’ll somehow lead to great ideas. “You don’t want to create a playground; it’s a place where people work,” Cherry says. “The way we do that is through a lot of research. We are making observations to see how each group works. So if we’re placing a slide in there because it seems ‘fun,’ it’s also because it’s a direct connection to how they work.”
Which explains how the Giant Pixel team also got a Studio O+A-designed speakeasy cocktail bar in their office basement: “The engineers told us they like to go out to a bar to brainstorm ideas, so we built them a full commercial bar,” Bartley says. Because quoting Star Wars, like most things, is always better with a buzz on.