September 26, 2014

O_Plus_A_Meraki_Design

Growing Gains

Mergers and acquisitions generally entail a rearranging of people and, on a more granular level, desks. Just ask Melissa Yeh, who oversaw the integration of Meraki's team into their new Cisco space in San Francisco. To help facilitate the transfer of brainpower, Cisco called upon Primo Orpilla of O+A Studio to create a workspace that would empower Meraki's team to grow bigger and better.

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As an already established company, Meraki's move was an opportunity to prove that their winning culture could be scaled, which meant one of Orpilla's tasks was to design with an established tenor in mind. "Meraki's staff was happy and close-knit," he told us. "They liked their old office and didn't want to lose its coziness.  Translating cozy to a much larger space was one of the challenges of this project," he said. What resulted was a series of small places to gather, from kitchenettes to nooks.

The more places you have for people to grab a snack or a cup of coffee, the more that interplay between leisure and creative thinking can take place.  Sometimes you get your best ideas away from your work station.  We want to give people plenty of places to land in the office. 

Uniting Orpilla's microspaces and the larger open floor plan (over twice the size of their previous office) is an overarching modern sensibility, which he attributes to Meraki's aesthetic. "We were guided by the design elegance of Meraki's own products—they take pride in how beautifully designed their routers and other tech products are," he explained. "We tried to mirror that elegance and that pride of craftsmanship." Quirkier inspirations played into the final designs, too, like a Mongolian yurt whose structure is replicated throughout the office. But to believe it, you have to see it. In fact, Melissa makes a point to bring people in to experience how energetic and collaborative the workspace is. It's quickly become their #1 recruiting tool.

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"When I try to share our culture with other HR folks, I ask them to come meet me for lunch. It's easier than explaining how well it works when you can feel the impact of the space the second you walk in. You see these stunning views, people working as they choose and it feels like a bustling, growing tech company."

This level of success is a designer's dream. Orpilla calls it "bespoke design." Designed to a T, he said, "We want[ed] it to be a perfect fit.  And, okay, yes—to be beautiful." Mission accomplished.

Many thanks to Primo Orpilla,Principal, O+A Studio and Melissa Yeh,People Operations, Cisco for helping put this post together.

For more design stories, check out Design Works!


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