Future Workspaces

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Future Workplace Interiors

RIOS Ideas  |  Vol. 1

Work Happens Everywhere

Design is never without story Design is never without story. It connects people to each other and the world around us. Together we work beyond boundaries to reveal, explore, and invent designs that amplify experiences.




RIOS was founded in 1985 as a design collective working beyond boundaries to inventively combine disciplines and amplify the impact of design. This innate understanding led to an ethos of design as a continuum, a notion that defined transdisciplinary practice and a body of work that celebrates the connection between people and place. The practice operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, urban planning, interior design, graphics and signage, exhibit, and product design to inform design at all types and scales — from plates to parks. We believe, fundamentally, that design is better when you think inclusively about ways to solve a problem and we practice this way within our studios and interdisciplinary teams. We are problem-solvers, innovators, and creative thinkers. This proclivity can be seen in the offshoots of RIOS, like notNeutral and Guillermo, but also in our unshakable nature as storytellers revealing the potential each project has to celebrate our diversity and humanity. Our work is irreversibly connected to the narrative of place and the complex order of human culture, creating solutions that are joyful, authentic, and unexpected. Each project is a genuine expression of the important stories that connect us and reveal location, ecology, culture, and ethnography.

RIOS has been recognized for skill and design excellence across the broad spectrum of design disciplines, including as a finalist for the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for landscape architecture, and as ‘Firm of the Year’ by the California Council of the American Institute of Architects. Our consistent body of unique design work and our redefinition of the boundaries of design practice has also led to numerous national and local AIA and ASLA awards, as well as recognition for graphics, interiors and furniture design. Our work has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Architecture, Architectural Record, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture and Metropolis. We treat the design intent and execution for every project as a solution unique to each client and to their programmatic requirements. Our clients often actively participate in the creative process. This client- focus has allowed us to produce a consistently high quality body of work which displays a stylistic range as broad as our client list.


the workpla is changing The workplace has always been in constant evolution. Our design and planning approach recognizes that the workplace is rapidly changing. It involves flexible and dynamic solutions, informed by data and culture, that are resilient to circumstance and trend. Navigating the amount of information out there for how the workplace should respond to COVID-19 is daunting and confusing. Using our own workplace as a guide, we’ve created an approach to solving workplace challenges for short- and long-term impacts.


Before Covid

During Covid

The Future of Work

Work is about providing a diversity of types in office

Wait....work can happen everywhere!

Discovering the “why” for when we come together

Our RIOS Model

Our RIOS Model


Our RIOS Model


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“No one left behind”

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Finding Your Why

























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The data behind an evolving work space



Using our workplace as model, we surveyed our employees for their preference on frequency of working from home, discovering that most people preferred to to work from home around 3 days a week. This told us that permanent desk assignments weren’t necessary, prompting a shift to a flexible desking solution. Based on the size of our warehouse workspace, this allowed us to move from 203 square feet per person to a generous 515 square feet per person.


➊ Own Your Data: Do What is Right For You The marketplace is crowded with opportunistic solutions that don’t consider employee sentiment or an organization’s culture. Using our workplace, we have defined a process that utilizes staff input and data to generate control data. From there, we solve for challenges by finding opportunities. We consider important city, state, and national protocols to calibrate a workplace solution that is uniquely suited to its users.

➋ Work From Home: Observing Future Impacts For many companies, including ours, a return to work balances two populations of staff: those who have opted to work from home indefinitely, and those who are navigating at-home and in-office work rituals. Because of this, we adopted an open office configuration using flex-desking supported by a collection of controlled components — lockers for all staff, daily cleaning procedures, and an investment in open office collaboration. This workplace takes the long view on how the workplace will change as a result of our modified behaviors.

➌ Synchronicity: Technology Brings Together We believe that no one should be left behind in the workplace — even in challenging times. As companies balance staff working at home with those in the office, we are developing ways to tie people together both in office and at home. From a technology-driven collaboration table to live cameras in the materials lab and pin-up spaces, we are narrowing the divide between home and office.

➍ The Why: Finding Joy in Our Return to Work As we explore the new frontier of workplace, there is one key question to ask: what are we doing when we come together in the office? This is the “why” of your workplace. The answer tells us the reason the workplace must exist; and why Zoom cannot be the sole place for interaction. For every company — big or small — the answer to this question defines how your workplace will evolve. The spaces we come back to should emphasize safety and joy in their expressions.


Workplace as Laboratory ➑


A Case Study into Work From Home Best Practices ➀ Temperature kiosk and

➏ Overhead 14’-0” Fans -

controlled entry

Cross Ventilation

➁ Staff lockers ➂ Locate your reserved desk,

➐ UVC Units affixed to Rooftop HVAC ➑ Operable Sliders to Exterior

clean, and set up

➃ Minimize kitchen function ➄ Reconfigure shared restrooms as single-occupancy

➐ ➏


Our differentiator is that we listen to your organization to inform a customized design solution with ideas that are research-based, derived from the insight we gather from our engagement with you.



Your Changing Identity We do our best work when helping companies who are in the midst of redefining themselves find the best way to work. The workplace offers a unique opportunity to define a creative agenda and redefine a new platform for work — one which is extracted from the very culture it serves. Our design methodology ensures that organizational evolution is authentic and true to our client’s values because it is generated through robust engagement that allows the solution to amplify the true differentiators and organizational nuances behind each company. The greatest insights come from time spent learning about our clients. In response, we’ve codified a cross-sectional, investigative process for understanding the needs and goals of the organizations we work with. 14

Our design process takes multiple criteria, conditions, and expectations, and translates them into singularly effective, appropriate, and beautiful physical results. Our process is datadriven and focused on adaptation. It is not a one-size-fits-all process, but the core tenets are focused on an attuned design backed up by standards that are specific to your organization. We aim to fully understand the culture that drives your success. In the end, it’s the calibration of this organization-specific data—your brand identity and evolving business platform—that drives the design of a performative and comfortable workplace that achieves your goals.

“Working with RIOS has been an incredibly collaborative and rewarding experience for our entire team. Their creativity, drive, and ability to come up with innovative solutions throughout the design process is unmatched, in conjunction with an extremely talented and passionate team!“ — James Barbuto Project Management & Facilities North Americas, Global Workplace Services (GWS), Spotify


Collaboration, not Prescription

We are intrigued by the factors that make organizations and places different from one another.


The world is more interconnected than ever before; information and innovations spread instantly from city to city, as do trends in design. Many tech offices have adopted a universality with spaces that are ad hoc and overly themed. The trend that prescribes space for any number of specific “tasks” is a cultural assimilation divorced from how best to use such space, creating designs that are ubiquitous, irrespective of the location, ecology, culture, or ethnography of their place. We do the exact opposite. We search for the genuine expression, the unique qualities and memories embedded in each organization, and allow the design to tell that story. We believe each place

derives its character and meaning from the fundamental qualities of its people, culture, history, and ceremonies. The space we create is calibrated to truths of your company, revealed through data that we synthesize into a unique solution that can only work for your organization. If there is one thing we know, it is that your organization is changing. It will be something different in two years than it is now, and it is our mission to calibrate the user to the space and capture a company’s evolving culture with operational flexibility. It isn’t just about setting you apart; it’s about showcasing who you are.


Our Workplace Process 18

➊ Attune We seek to truly understand the people our design will serve. This additional step is particularly important to our authorship, as empathy is one of our most important values. It goes beyond simply understanding. As we reveal the truth of what supports your best work, the space in turn will be allowed to resonate with its occupants. This might include in-depth workshops with teams and activity-based mapping that reveals insights about travel times indoors, time spent in various job functions, and the sizes of meetings and where they happen.

➋ Reframe To solve the problem, we must first take it apart. This analysis involves delving deeply into all the organizational facets to define the nuances that make the organization an engine for achieving its goals and successes. This involves finding the cultural differentiators that must be celebrated. We analyze the data from workshops, surveys, and observation to extract these realities.

➌ Ideate This step is a combination of taking the problem apart and putting it back together. It is where we identify both likely and absurd possibilities, as well as categories, fields, and ranges that inform a design concept with character-defining qualities that will produce memorable experiences. This is where we cultivate the vision of the design.

➍ Kickoff to Move-In-Day We believe in consistency in the core team from day one all the way to move-in day. Our team exemplifies creativity and agility when it comes to multi-disciplinary design, delivery, and build out. We have a passion for leading, uncovering truths, solving tough problems, and collaborating to create positive outcomes for our clients. square feet per person.

➎ Quality and Construction We believe safeguarding our clients during bidding and construction is equally as important as all other components of a successful project. Our in-house QA/QC program is administered through senior staff that operate as third-party advisors for full service projects. We are here to educate our clients on navigating and managing changes that may occur during construction. We understand design is, on occasion, non-linear and because of that we provide complete fee proposals that capture the full picture of our project involvement for the life of the project. We don’t practice using exhaustive add servicing.



Our ideas come to life through collaboration with our clients. The following projects represent some of our favorite partnerships.

Selected Projects




D ANTAGE Embracing existing character in a new home that prioritizes the luxury of space to be creative and messy, make things, and elevate multidisciplinary work 3101 W. Exposition Place Location Los Angeles, CA Size 32,000 sq. ft.

Services Provided Interior Architecture Workplace Strategy Experiential Graphic Design


When RIOS sought a new home in 2017, no stone was left unturned. From former roller rinks to warehouses, the effort prioritized the luxury of space to be creative, messy, make things, and elevate the multidisciplinary work. The search led us to one of the most kinetic parts of Los Angeles at Crenshaw and Exposition. New growth in the area attributed the 2016 introduction of Metro’s Expo line is only a foreshadowing of future growth tied to the Metro expansion blocks away that will connect the Expo line to Los Angeles International Airport.


The 32,000-sq.-ft. bow truss building is adjoined with the adjacent 20,000sq.-ft. warehouse for a total of 52,000 square feet. The only walls inside delineate spaces for meeting and making, including a home for a laser cutter, CNC mill, focused workspaces, and collaboration tables. The space fuels our desire to explore the new frontier of workplace design using our own office as a laboratory. The grittiness and “light touch” within the space is intentional to remove any notion of preciousness and further the ideas of exploration, evolution, and flux.





Working from home in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 brought about an entirely new set of issues to explore within — and connected to — the workplace. We embraced the change, and as we supported those working from home with laptops and distributed working platforms, we simultaneously shifted our workplace model at our physical address. The density increased from 203-sq.-ft. per person to 515-sq.-ft., with bookable desks and employee lockers holding the essential work items. Teams can book desks together or work autonomously. The configuration acknowledges that working from home is here to stay, but places increased importance on the reasons we come together in a physical space.


The design also considers important wellness items like airflow with UVC systems installed at all air intake locations within the HVAC, the addition of overscaled fans to keep air moving, and an abundance of plants to act as biophilic partitions and provide lushness. A materials lab allows the act of material selection to be celebrated. Selected materials become part of project collections via mobile project carts that can be moved to wherever important live or virtual discussions are happening.




While work can happen virtually in a transactional sense, we believe that when you look to the future to plan and make, the act of coming together is irreplaceable. Workplace culture and social interaction, as well as kickoff meetings and project charettes, are more successful with in-person interface. With that in mind, a series of collaboration tables are interspersed throughout the space, which both bring teams together and connect them with colleagues working remotely — so that no one is left behind. 33

That LA S


Sparkle When the dynamics of strategic business operations guide the foundation of design in a creative compound Spotify Content Headquarters Location Los Angeles, CA Size 154,000 sq. ft. 625 Employees

Services Provided Interior Architecture Landscape Architecture Workplace Strategy Experiential Graphic Design Furniture Design


The 154,000 square feet that comprises this client’s L.A. campus is in many ways more of an urban design problem than a typical tenant interiors project. Spread across four significantly unique buildings, the spaces weave circulation together through a series of spaces that are unified through a main street concept. This approach amplifies engagement and break-out throughout the established public plazas, reminiscent of urban forms and spaces, and experiential design that extends the sense of street and fabric through the building. With music, creativity, and the spark of inspiration being fundamental at every point in the project, the overall design juggles spatial prototypes that could instantly be switched-on for pop-up concerts, impromptu recordings, or spontaneous events.


Beyond the relatively low footprint for typical workplace spaces, this client’s LA project offers up a huge collection of extraordinary programs: seventeen podcast studios; a seventy person screening and mixing theater; three artist lounges; two artist green rooms; five artist listening rooms; two recording studios; a seven hundred and fifty person venue; one insert studio for video capture; forty person capacity editing and post production facility; a food hall; barista program; and enough workplace support spaces for over six hundred employees. These programs are scatter throughout the collection of buildings and are all tied together along various choreographed paths that can manage multiple artists at a single time, and discreet entry and access for the employee. This connectivity, and desire to not be behind closed doors, helps to realize the dream of the facility not as an isolated oasis within the Arts District, but as a tangible and real extension of the pulse that defines the area.




| JULY 2020

Instilling an instant sense of history is no easy feat, especially when also making an instantaneous impression in the glittering cultural fabric that is Los Angeles.



To respond to our client’s intense involvement in research and development initiatives, we set out to create a space that is adaptable to the everchanging music industry by providing a modular flow, which allows for flexible workplace transitions.






A workplace away from home that used science to build its worldview Vrbo Headquarters Location Austin, TX Size 318,000 sq. ft. 2,503 employees

Services Provided Interior Architecture Landscape Architecture Furniture Design Furniture Procurement Experiential Graphic Design Video Services Workplace Strategy 45

From the onset, there were visionary goals for making the Austin-based Vrbo headquarters a workplace unlike any other. The 16-story office tower, located in The Domain mixed-use district, combines data, technology, and insights to preserve the presence of the Vrbo travel brand while promoting collaboration in an open workplace. The purpose-designed solution for the interior design included in-depth workshops, research, and employee feedback to align the design with their culture and aspirational growth, uniting previously scattered departments to maximize interaction. Amenities include bike storage, outdoor balcony space, an outdoor lawn for meetings and workouts, showers, lockers, and more.






The vibrant environment responds to the unique composition of Vrbo’s specialty and diverse teams, with a cadre of multi-modal workspaces to motivate work ranging from deep focus to team-based collaboration. 51

Each level embodies an amplified ecological experience that is delivered through multiple sensory elements like color and nature, to reinforce association with actual places.



The Work   of W


Wellness Helping a fast-growing company prioritize wellness as an expression of their brand GoodRx Headquarters Location Santa Monica, CA Size 78,000 sq. ft 520 Employees

Services Provided Interior Architecture Landscape Architecture Furniture Design Furniture Procurement Workplace Strategy Experiential Graphic Design 55



Recognized for providing equitable access to affordable prescriptions, GoodRx had the goal to transition their workplace from growing start-up to purpose-driven, while embodying their mission through community amenities and biophilic sensibilities.



Stitching together a singular walking loop, the project utilizes a main street path to navigate the space, uniting various programs into an experience that is filled with everchanging social spaces.





Commun Healing


nal Harnessing optimal collaboration and scientific transparency to inspire innovation in cancer research and treatment The Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC Location Los Angeles, CA Size 160,000 sq. ft

Services Provided Interior Architecture Landscape Architecture Experiential Graphic Design




Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC is a world-class cancer institute with a mission that encourages healthcare professionals to collaborate and interact in a nature-centric environment. The Institute’s founding director believes in fundamentally changing the soil of research to advance cancer treatment. The design employes the space and its overlap of treatment and research to generate a new strategy in the war against cancer. The interior design was conceived around the notion that transparency and optimal collaboration inspire innovation and transform patient wellness. The design proactively creates a collaboration between researcher, patient, and physician to provide the greatest impact in treatment. The design encourages each user to cross paths and amplifies the power of collaboration and transparency in creating a transformative healing environment. Principles of nature are incorporated and, as a result, the natural environment informs the materials and open spatial experience. Thermory (wood), plants, and a rich palette of earth-toned fabrics throughout the interior evoke nature in an abstract way. The views to the outside and planted terraces revolutionize the indoor/outdoor experience, providing a compelling connection to nature and encouraging wellness. The building is situated along The Expo line, which connects it with the larger USC Campus and the opportunity to bring the university into the research community as necessary.



By incorporating elements like biophilia, light, sound, and other sensory strategies, the building connects to the healing components of nature to harness inspiration.



The Social Side o


l of Things Interconnecting television and movie departments to emphasize social connection Imagine Entertainment Location Beverly Hills, CA Size 22,000 sq. ft. 75 Employees

Services Provided Interior Architecture Furniture Design Furniture Procurement Styling Services Experiential Graphic Design


When Imagine Entertainment outgrew their Beverly Hills offices and moved into new digs a block away, they faced two challenges. The first was how to make the new space feel modern and creative to attract new talent while retaining and burnishing the studio’s 30-year legacy. The second was how to interconnect Imagine’s television and movie departments, which had occupied separate spaces in the former location. What could have been an obstacle, the fact that the new offices were divided among two floors of a fourstory building, became an opportunity. Imagine wanted the design to prioritize openness throughout the 22,000sq.-ft. space. A large, central staircase was created between the two stories, flanked with areas for impromptu gatherings. This new focal point is just one the many public spaces


that enliven the workplace. Many of the public spaces are located on the perimeter of the building, bringing natural light and open sight lines deep into the floor plate. Our interiors team took the opportunity to tell the story of Imagine’s decades of storytelling success. The lobby walls are wallpapered with pages from the original scripts to hit productions like Apollo 13 and the TV show Empire. A wall connecting the kitchen to the stairway features a mural with abstracted snippets of the movie posters from films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code. Like the office design itself, these installations reference the history of Imagine, while casting the company in an entirely new and modern light.




Imagine’s offices offer a suite of spaces for meetings and work — a formal conference room, an informal living room, an area where the staff can congregate, and several small lounges for spontaneous collaboration.



Intersectio of Inno


on ovation “Identify, augment, and disperse” — programming an office influenced by a proven strategy for curing cancer Confidential Client Location Santa Monica, CA Size 160,000 sq. ft

Services Provided Interior Architecture Landscape Architecture Experiential Graphic Design



This pharmaceutical company’s offices are designed for the future of work. Traditional workstations combine with a multitude of breakout, communal, and private spaces designed to support multiple ways of working and interacting. The design carries a sleek, high-tech laboratory aesthetic throughout the offices, punctuated by colorful moments to spark inspiration and cue wayfinding. The renovation allowed for the opportunity to integrate views to nature in the ground-floor courtyard and via several terraces on each floor. Those terraces are augmented by amenities such as communal gathering spaces, dubbed “pocket parks,” which occur indoors to establish the foundation of a biophilic workplace.

Every floor features three pocket parks, each with its own color palette to establish a sense of place and aid wayfinding. Located adjacent to the outdoor spaces, but secluded from individual workspaces, they’re intended for small gatherings, impromptu collaborations, or quiet moments of reflection. The “Library,” for example, features a cozy banquette along the window wall, flanked by mirrors that enlarge the perceived size of the space. More than 500 workstations and hoteling desks are spread across the five floors, with 50-inch high desks and sound baffles in the ceiling to support deep concentration. The fifth-floor executive boardroom boasts the best views of sunset over the Pacific and connects to communal spaces that share the view.





A sculptural staircase surrounded by gathering spaces is the heart of the office, establishing a visual connection throughout the five-story building and linking it vertically.


Los Angeles 3101 West Exposition Place Los Angeles, CA 90018 Portland 2505 SE 11th Avenue, Suite 310 Portland, OR 97202 Andy Lantz  |  Creative Director, Partner Andy@rios.com 323. 785. 1800 RIOS.com