New Office Design Reinvents Walls, Ceilings

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Increasingly, companies are adopting open plan office designs to make it easier for their employees to work collaboratively (and, let’s face it, to save a buck or two on square footage). Most organizations are prepared to deal with the problem of mitigating noise in the open office, but some are surprised to find that all that open space isn’t as architecturally interesting as they had expected.

Enter Seeyond Architectural Solutions, a Minneapolis-based company that creates features that spice up open spaces. Their creations include free-standing walls, clouds that hang from ceilings, and even futuristic office cubicles.

“The loft space concept is, in theory, very inviting. But in practice it is not,” said Seeyond General Manager Kirby Rea in an interview with Finance & Commerce. “We need definition in interior space, but you don’t want to block the light from windows. Since most of the installations are in the cellular resin, natural light is transmitted through it, or the installations can be internally lit.”

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Recently, Seeyond created a three-dimensional white wall for the lobby of a media and marketing firm in downtown Minneapolis. Haworth Marketing + Media needed a feature to visually tie together both floors of its offices, and offset the industrial look and feel of the staircase that joined them physically.

“Haworth wanted a central lobby that was all about communication and connectivity, and it wanted the space to be alive,” said Jodie Leppa, senior project manager at design firm Nelson, which oversaw the project. “We wanted something artful because the stairs were more industrial looking, and we needed something more refined for the wall.”

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The white wall is one of 18 installations that Seeyond has created for companies as diverse as a casino in Las Vegas (a 30-foot long cloud that hangs near the ceiling) and a 27-foot tall column for a Long Beach, Calif. Hotel. Their clients include hotels, restaurants, and yes, office buildings, and tend to be clustered on the coasts, where those open loft spaces beg to be filled with engaging architectural features.

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Interestingly, for such a futuristic company, Seeyond has pretty old roots: the firm is backed by Liberty Diversified International, a $500 million company founded in 1918 in New Hope, Minnesota. Their designers have worked in fields ranging from architecture and mathematics to boatbuilding and metalsmithing.

They must be doing something right. The company won a 2012 Silver Award at Neocon, the largest expo for commercial interiors in North America.

Images: Seeyond

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