Drawing parallels between the company’s values and the continuous transformation of Dubai, Perkins + Will delivers interiors for Linkedin’s regional office.
Adding a subtle Middle Eastern flavour, the design team at Perkins + Will was tasked with creating a new regional office for the US social network.
LinkedIn, that was fun and functional, but also able to represent the company’s philosophy. The 1,500m2 office occupies three floors in the Business Central Towers in Dubai Media City, and features a range of collaborative working spaces, meeting rooms, a coffee shop, and a game room.
Valentina Cereda, senior interior designer at Perkins + Will’s Dubai office, says that LinkedIn didn’t have particularly strict branding guidelines regarding the design of its workspaces, giving the design team freedom to understand the requirements of employees and then translate that into the space.
“We held several workshops with LinkedIn’s local team to truly understand how they work, in order to give them a space that can accommodate their methods,” says Cereda.
“They have different departments, such as sales and marketing, that often collaborate, and they also regularly meet with external agencies and clients, so they needed flexible spaces.”
Cereda explains that the overall concept was based on drawing parallels between LinkedIn’s values – such as innovation, transformation, and opportunity – and Dubai, as a city of continuous change.
“Dubai has the same spirit. It is constantly evolving, giving opportunities to people from all over the world,” she says.
The main themes the design team has developed include heritage, business, landscape, and progress.
“All of these themes are linked with Dubai, and the aim was to integrate them into spaces, to create work with a sense of place,” she says.
CENTRAL HUB & GAME ROOM
The reception area acts as the central hub of the office, so the design team decided to combine all four key aspects of Dubai: heritage, landscape, business. and progress. These elements are interpreted in a subtle way, in the use of the materials, graphics, and fabrics.
“All the graphics have been done in collaboration with LinkedIn’s graphic designers from the US. They had to represent the company’s logo, but we had freedom to make it look ‘more Dubai’, so we made it out of bronze, gold, and steel. All of these metals are quite shiny, so when you apply them to the wall, it feels like Dubai,” says Cereda, explaining that the intention was to portray not the region’s affluence, but its bright prospects.
The client also wanted a spacious coffee shop, to be used by employees and by clients visiting the office. The designers applied the theme of progression to space, reflecting the continuous development of Dubai’s infrastructure through the use of raw industrial materials and eclectic styles.
“The blue container in the coffee shop is surely the most interesting feature as it represents the Dubai and LinkedIn theme of progression in its use of industrial materials, and by integrating the company’s logo,” says Cereda. “This space acts as the central hub for all three floors, allowing staff to gather and share ideas.”
The lounge area is designed to provide staff with a space to relax and socialise, and features armchairs and coffee tables. Industrial-looking pendant lights, and bookshelves made out of white oak, add to the living-room atmosphere. Cereda says that, during the briefing phase, the client insisted that each corner of the space needed to be functional.
A game room for LinkedIn employees incorporates elements of regional heritage within the social hub of the business. The traditions and culture of the Middle East can also be seen in the choice of materials, patterns, and style. The space is fun and a bit quirky, but not overwhelming.
“We wanted to create space that is funky, but also functional and suitable for the employees. During the briefing, they told us they wanted a pool table, video game station, and a seating area where they can gather for informal meetings. We put a lot of thought into the acoustics of the room, and its functionality. We have designed a space to create a branding moment, with LinkedIn’s logo and ‘Dubai’ written in Arabic on the wall. We have divided the room so people can focus on their game with enough space around them.”
FROM OPEN-PLAN TO MEETING PODS
The meeting areas are a collection of corporate spaces that represent Dubai as an innovative business hub, touching on the emirate’s advanced transportation amenities and infrastructure.
Inspired by the Dubai Metro, the team created a series of meeting booths for more informal meetings. Snapshots of the city on the wall resemble Metro windows overlooking the city. Cereda describes these areas as “ice breakers”.
“LinkedIn employees can bring clients for a coffee and relaxed chat before moving to more formal meeting rooms.”
Creating a collection of open-plan, focussed, and collaborative workspaces that echo the natural environment and landscape of Dubai. Cereda says that the design intent was to reflect the desert and shorelines of the Middle East. One of the design features is an abstract wall decoration that resembles a camel and sand dunes, where staff can hang their own pictures.
“We created different features that allow staff to personalise the space, so they feel they own it, and have a sense of belonging. That’s the idea of every LinkedIn office,” explains Cereda. “An open-plan area offers a variety of collaboration spaces with easily moveable furniture, and phone rooms where they can have more privacy.”
The staff has a snack area in the middle of the open-plan area, separated off with greenery and plants.
“We’ve used a lot of greenery, which is integrated with the storage and cupboards, to create separation and make the space feel a bit more alive.”
In addition to Cereda, the design team included Rosie Pawsey, Dwight Plamenco, Shanish Madhavan, Faraz Ali, and Omar Farooq. Commenting on the challenges the team faced during the project, Cereda says a lot of effort had to be put in to making sure the space was built to follow the design, especially when it came to the coordination of the ceiling elements, which included MEP, lighting, and acoustic panels.
From brainstorming through to the construction phase, Perkins + Will’s team worked closely with the client, and Cereda believes that helped them to execute the project successfully.
“The team loved working on LinkedIn’s office in Dubai. There were practical concerns, like creating a space that satisfied LinkedIn’s global standards and the local staff. But we listened to the client, and they listened to us,” Cereda says, concluding that in the end, it’s about creating a space that makes people feel happy, and where they can enjoy their work.
For its design of the LinkedIn office, the Perkins + Will team won last year’s CID Award for the Office category.