A new EF – Education First office was recently inaugurated in the former Swiss Stock Exchange Building, located in the heart of Zurich. EF is an international education company, whose mission is to provide people of all ages learning opportunities around the world. Working closely under the direction of Fiona Kennedy - Worldwide Director, EF Architecture and Design Studio, Philip Iosca - currently Head of Interior Design, North America, EF Architecture and Design Studio - developed the interiors.
The challenge the designer had to face was that of converting a behemoth massive granite building, built in the 70s and 80s, into a light-filled open plan office. This should feel welcoming, comfortable and should allow all users to be productive yet flexible at the same time.
According to Iosca, design is at the core of EF: a tool with which to share the company's values. Arper’s collections Cross, Kinesit, Steeve, Zinta, Saari and Cila were selected for their geometric and aesthetic qualities, as well as their respectful and warm design.
When interviewed by Arper on the project, Iosca said: “What makes a great workspace is changing. Our demand for public spaces is the same demand that we place on the private ones. Therefore, I think that there needs to be a softness to it. There needs to be a considered design. There needs to be a warmth to that approach.
EF is a relatively young company with a contemporary and light approach to the design of spaces. In the new Zurich offices the communal spaces are designed to be inviting and comfortable: there is big atrium, a coffee bar and “water bars” for getting like fizzy water.
“We consider how technology is changing the way we work and we try to create environments that are flexible and that help our employees to be more productive“ says Iosca, “The design of our spaces tends to be varied so that we can accommodate lots of different type of activities.”
According to Iosca “Arper's been a really good partner for us at EF especially for our office in Zurich. When we went to last Salone del Mobile in Milan, we were impressed that so many of the furniture items of Arper had a geometric quality that worked really well with the building. We loved their meeting chairs from a design standpoint but they work perfect also because they are incredibly comfortable and they could also be customized to fit our color approach for the building.“
“Another need that we had was this sort of modular soft seating that is somewhere between a cafe and a more proper desk or meeting room. So we have really loved the Zinta collection because it's strikes a really nice balance between comfort and functionality.”
For the furnishings of these hybrid spaces have been selected the Zinta and Kiik modular seating systems, which perfectly integrate with the height adjustable Pix tables, offering all the versatility needed for a multi-purpose space.
“I can't help but think that the future of spaces will become non territorial completely. An office won't have seas of workstations. It will have seas of sofas and soft seating. As we become more and more connected, we desire to be unplugged and not in front of a screen, but inspired by nature and human contact. Soft environments are going to play a strong role in the way in which we will communicate, work, educate, somewhere between a classroom somewhere between an office and a home.”