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Project URTO: Welcome to the Modern Village

























ON THE COVER Illustration by Doug Wittnebel PHOTOGRAPHY Stuart Szerwo, Kati Cesareo and Bruce Damonte

WELCOM E TO ON E LO O K Working in the Bay Area, we are fortunate to partner with some of the most innovative companies in the world. They’re transforming the way we live, developing technology that alters how we communicate, buy, learn and travel, and they’re influencing our behavior. Physical space also has the power to influence behavior and culture. This issue of ONELOOK examines our recent Headquarters redesign, named URTO (“impact” in Italian, an homage to our owners’ Italian heritage) and how it presented us with an opportunity to redefine how we work. Technology also proved to be instrumental in this process. Sensors measuring actual space usage provided data conflicting with qualitative information collected through workshops. The two data sets provided differing perspectives on our redesign challenge. Many of our clients face this same dilemma. One Workplace is defined by an entrepreneurial culture; it expresses who we are and shapes our team’s actions and beliefs. Through a better understanding of who we are, we learned how our workplace must reflect our culture and be designed to reinforce our sense of purpose and belonging, empowering our teams and strengthening our community. Our interview with Kati Cesareo, One Workplace Associate Creative Director, demonstrates this spirit. Ultimately, URTO is our commitment to creating a living, breathing environment, where all elements critical to our business and wellbeing are nurtured and empower us to deliver our best work. We hope the impact is exponential and will spread beyond our doors, as core to our business is the creation of environments that foster innovation. URTO is not just for our people and our culture, it offers insight to the organizations and cultures we support. We hope our learnings from URTO will inspire you. Chris Good Creative Director

Graham Wallace Sales Director

Dave Bryant VP of Sales



Why? It’s the question that separates style from substance. Why do we come to work? Why do we do what we do? Why that design? Why that structure? Why those patterns? A good answer always leads back to what really matters: the culture and the people who live it. That’s what our Why? is all about, what URTO grew to represent: a question that led to an idea, which led to a discovery, and ultimately – a transformation. It wasn’t always easy. But the process changed the way we approach our work and how we help our clients do the same. Here’s our story.


A beautiful collision.


URTO comes from an Italian word for impact or collision. The coming together of polar opposites in a way that shocks. What started as a simple design refresh of our Santa Clara headquarters turned into a reinvention. Here’s how project URTO took us down our collision course to create something beautiful – a new place and a new way to work.



We didn’t need more workspace. 6

We needed to change the way we work. AFTER


Our workspace triples as an experience for our clients, an office for us and a workplace laboratory. After five years of occupancy and company growth, the space was feeling dated and cramped. We thought we had the solution: tear down a wall and expand into our warehouse. That would give us the square footage we needed, albeit at a steep price of over $1 million. But instead of sledgehammer, we took a step back, considered our options, and took a different approach.

8 4


Storytelling through data.


Data was fundamental to our initial research and every decision that followed. Using Steelcase’s Workplace Advisor tool, we imbedded data-gathering sensors around our office to measure where and when employees were using our current space.


Our overcrowded assumptions weren’t just inaccurate – they were completely wrong. Employees were only using 29% of the available seats most of the time. And that number never exceeded 40%. Either the sensors weren’t working properly – or we weren’t working in ways our space was designed to support.


Coupling Workplace Advisor quantitative data with qualitative data from employee surveys and workshops painted a clearer picture of what was going on in the office. We learned that we didn’t need more space. We needed to adjust some of the ways we work, and build a new environment to support that change.


A cultural collision course. A well-designed workspace is more than just where work happens. It creates a sense of belonging, value, and ownership. Great workspaces are also powerful storytelling tools that build and reinforce company culture: how we engage and what we value. The data we collected underscored a misalignment between our office environment and culture: we had a space that couldn’t adapt to our growth or to the way we worked. Change was necessary, and we knew it wouldn’t be easy. It would mean working differently and measuring success differently. Most importantly, we knew if change wasn’t managed correctly, it could take a toll on our company culture. Data gathered from workshops and employee surveys helped us better define our culture and refresh our company values. A complete understanding of what matters most to us – along with the metrics from Workplace Advisor – gave us the blueprint we needed for our change.



Introducing URTOnomy.


Designing a more flexible environment meant swapping most assigned workstations for shared work space. But simply taking away without replacing the sense of ownership and value that individual workstations give employees would damage rather than enhance, our culture. So we gave them something better. We call it URTOnomy. By giving One Workplace employees the power to choose how and where they work, and a palette of places that support different work functions, we preserve the sense of individual value and our space becomes more useful.




Colliding data sets. 18

According to WorkPlace Advisor data, one of the least-used spaces in our office was an area featuring a bench swing in front of a garage door to our outside patio. Nobody ever worked there. But our employee surveys consistently listed the swing room as their favorite spot in the building. The data was conflicting. In the eyes of One Workplace employees, the swing room served as an emotional connection to our company culture and how we value work/life balance. It also brought the outside in. But however deeply they felt about the space, it wasn’t functional enough for them to actually use it on a day-to-day basis. The redesign replaced the swing with a large outdoor picnic table, plenty of plants, and of course – a swing. Now the swing room is a space that tells the same story but gives employees the tools they need to use it.





the modern village.


We see space as a storytelling tool that begins and ends with the people who use it. Designing a high-performing environment means striking the right balance between form and function and addressing the cognitive, emotional, and functional wellbeing of the people inside. And of course the space should help them do their jobs better. Kind of like a modern village. And like a modern village, our new workplace design is beautiful and functional. Individual neighborhoods support and at the same time separate teams and working styles, while providing space for groups of all sizes to come together. Some of the other design elements in the modern village purposefully address the details.


From timber to dÊcor, the materials we chose to create our modern village were data driven –needs identified through Workplace Advisor or- via the voices of our employees. It’s the same approach we use to design spaces for our clients: asking, listening, co-creating, making and iterating.


A workplace made of many spaces.

Within the village there are many neighborhoods. And each neighborhood is filled with a variety of functional spaces employees can use. Places to: - Store things short term - Store things long term - Share - Focus - Learn - Create - Celebrate


Adaptable and Inclusive. The furnishings and materials we selected are durable and interchangeable. Because our employees and our clients are diverse, the ability to swap out different elements easily helps the space become comfortable and inclusive. And we build greater flexibility over time.


Family Matters. One Workplace has always been a family-owned business. This is more than a buzzword to us. The very best of family encapsulates our culture and the values we hold. But we never want to lock ourselves into the past. That’s why our new materials are designed to honor our heritage while also looking towards the future. Curated Vignettes. We now have areas within our workplace designated to highlight new products or trends, creating an “always fresh” experience that evolves and changes regularly. It keeps the office and showroom feeling vibrant. It also inspires a sense of daily discovery.


Imitating Nature. Bringing nature into the office is a proven value to employee wellbeing. But biophilia means more than the occasional plant or nature photo. Choosing colors and patterns that reference nature, helps us create spaces that address emotional as well as physical needs.


Works like an office. Feels like home. Materiality – the look, feel, and texture of our design – comes down to the experience we want our clients and employees to have from the moment they walk through the door. It also affects how they use and interact with the space. For us, the modern village design had to feel soft and approachable. Familiar. Comfortable. And also exciting. And we know these feelings can’t be conjured up out of the blue. Using materiality to achieve an emotional end meant tapping into One Workplace’s history and borrowing on the collective emotional good will with elements that spoke naturally to who we were, who we are, and who we hope to become.



Designing a Living, Breathing, Space. We see our space as a living, breathing entity – just like the people inside of it. That’s because physical spaces don’t just address physical needs. They also serve as a source of emotional and psychological comfort. We wanted the materials we chose to reflect nature, to bring the outside in and to generate a sense of calm. Our building has access to great natural light and we amplified the outdoors, creating indoors with patterns and colors that mimic nature.


Embracing Discomfort. Designing URTOnomous work brings old ways of working together with the new, creating another collision. And often, there’s discomfort involved. It’s a collision we embraced. Changing routines, as well as introducing new visual and sensory cues can lead to improved ways of thinking and learning. But designing change must also strike the right balance between the new and the familiar. By retaining some existing elements and tying them into the new materials, we created a dynamic and comfortable space.

Choosing Colors. Our master color palette plays a big role. Because we use color to stimulate the different activities that occur within the various sections of our office, the palette had to be both expansive and colorful. From calming, subdued colors that encourage focused work to bright, vibrant colors that promote gathering and activity, it’s a versatile palette.


Custom Floorcloth When historic process and modern design come together, you get a beautiful collision of old and new. Patricia Dreher helped make this happen.

Creating Custom Pieces. We have long term personal relationships we’ve built with vendors and artisans, which enable us to create and implement custom materials easily throughout our new space. These relationships also help us co-create or co-design custom pieces for or with our clients. Here are a few we worked with.


Custom Wallpaper We highlighted and framed a custom designed, hand painted Calico wall paper, as a reference to precious art for its expense and rarity.

Custom Reception Desk Texture on the front desk is an abstracted version of the 45° angle of exposed brick walls in our building. An angle also found in the herringbone and cobblestones frequently seen in villages.

Practicing What We Preach. We’ve always thrived on complex design challenges, and our URTO project was no exception. Throughout the process, we followed the same approach we take with each client: listening, understanding, and learning. We made some mistakes and developed some new understandings. At the end of the day, our goal is to design integrated solutions that balance form and function, while making a positive impact on the daily lives of the space users.


Connecting the modern village with technology.

With the introduction of URTOnomous working, One Workplace employees are now more dispersed than ever. To keep them connected we adopted a frictionless technology philosophy that feels natural and reinforces our company culture, even when One Workplace employees aren’t physically in the office. Because we help our clients design and integrate technology systems into their spaces, we wanted to show that we practice what we preach. Throughout the new space, we imbedded technology in four key areas.


Video Conferencing Zoom capabilities in every room bring remote employees in with adaptable video conferencing systems built to scale as we continue to grow. Mobility and Versatility From phones to touchscreen walls, we built the ability to push digital content into the space in a way that works with our daily interactions. Transitioning from mobile work to a fixed location is now seamless.


Creativity Our Design Lab features a giant interactive touchscreen that enables our designers to create, collaborate, and share in person and remotely. Analog We realize that sometimes technology is at its best when it’s simply not there. So we mindfully created spaces that let employees disconnect, giving them more variety and supporting calm and wellbeing.


KATI CESAREO Office Location: Santa Clara Role: Associate Creative Director Hometown: New Jersey

Des1gner Spotlight 38

Kati worked closely with Chris Good, One Workplace’s

Creative Director, on the design concept, color palette, furniture and material details for Project URTO

What first captured your interest in design? As a child, our home was a never-ending creative project for our mother. She constantly found ways to help her kids bring creativity into our lives, whether through drawing, experiencing her many interior design projects or millions of other activities. I inherited a passion for nature from her love of gardening. She later “gardened” professionally, working with my uncle planning and managing the Philadelphia International Flower Show which I recently experienced for the first time. It was amazing and I’m so proud of her.

Describe your design journey. My 5th grade teacher had us write letters to our future selves, and then mailed us those letters after we graduated from college. Mine was specific: I was going to be a designer and attend RISD. That had to have come from my mother. My high school interests also helped lay the foundation for design. We had a stellar art program, which I loved, and I also played sports and devoured history - but I never fit squarely into any of the artist or jock stereotypes. My natural curiosity and broad interests gave me the ability to see many different perspectives.


Tell us about a mentor and a gift he/she gave you. After school I worked for Billabong and several other clothing companies, before freelancing with Forms & Surfaces. When F&S offered me a full-time role, it gave me the opportunity to move to Santa Barbara and apply the textile design process I knew to design: architectural glass, three dimensional patterns for wall coverings, and other industrial materials. F&S hired Mary Wesley to work with me, and she became a pivotal mentor in so many ways. Mary has a long history in furniture sales and marketing, and she has honed the skill of intuition and people connecting. She taught me the importance of listening to my own intuition and became a friend for life.


Tell us about one object which has influenced you and why. That’s easy, the surfboard. It’s symbolic, handcrafted, and it has a long history of using different materials. Surfboards bring together sustainability, and amazing colors, patterns and designs. And while on one hand it’s a handcrafted toy, people will spend a great deal of money on their surfboard. My husband and I have accumulated a large collection of boards, and one designer we admire is Hayden Cox. Check out his Hypto Krypto collaborations. https://www.haydenshapes.com


Who are the artists or designers you most admire? Artists Frida Kahlo and Louise Nevelson, for mastery of color and pattern, narrative and assembly, and Rothko for minimalism and simplicity at imposing scale. Architect Barbara Bestor is one of my favorites because of her sense of color, use of the unexpected and the wide spectrum of project types she takes on. https://bestorarchitecture.com/. I also love Kelly Wearstler for her ability to mix textures and colors, and the planned convergence of the unexpected. https://www.kellywearstler.com/ Is there a design challenge you would like to overcome? I love figuring out how to make disparate elements that don’t typically work together, work together. It’s been a lifelong inclination of mine to turn left when others turn right. But while I always tend to stray from the pack artistically to create my own world, community is also incredibly important. What would you like to accomplish with your work at One Workplace? I am driven to help others access their own creativity. Creating a space where anyone can discover and tap into their creative voice promotes innovation. I want to help deploy voices in the right context for their personal success. Project URTO was an intentional move in that direction.


What project or design solution are you most excited about? My biggest passions are sustainability, care for the planet, and self-wellness. I want the workplace of the future to incorporate holistic sustainability in its materials and adaptability to the people within it. We can address this first in the visual sense, and then manifest the solution into our social environment.


What would else would you like to learn? Where do I begin? I’m focused on exploring total wellness and mindfulness – and how both connect to the psychology of space. And yes, I will look forward to sharing what I learn.



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ONELOOK Issue 6  

This issue of ONELOOK examines our recent Headquarters redesign, named URTO (“impact” in Italian, an homage to our owners’ Italian heritage)...

ONELOOK Issue 6  

This issue of ONELOOK examines our recent Headquarters redesign, named URTO (“impact” in Italian, an homage to our owners’ Italian heritage)...