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Tribal DDB by i29

Optimizing the work environment of an open-plan Amsterdam office, interior architects i29 used a rather unconventional material, namely wool felt.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 02-09-2011

With a brief that called for flexible work spaces to stimulate interaction and creativity suitable for some 80 employees, i29 had its work cut out for it.

Clean white floors and sharp lines are the first thing you notice when walking into the Tribal DDB offices in Amsterdam. A closer look however reveals the use of soft wool felt, i29 explains: “The clear and straight lines of the design itself are in great contrast to the softness of it's materials. We always search for contrasts in our projects, while keeping it looking simple.”

As part of a larger international network, the Tribal DDB office space called for a clear concept. “The design had to reflect an identity that is friendly and playful but also professional and serious. The contradictions within these requests, called for choices that allow great flexibility in the design,” says i29.

But with over 80 employees and the demand for many individual workstations within an open-plan framework, how to create a work environment that encourages creative interaction yet stimulates productivity at the same time? With the main problem being acoustics, a sound-absorbing fabric was quickly chosen as the main feature in the design.

i29 on its choice of wool felt: “It is playful, and can make a powerful image on a conceptual level, it is perfect for absorbing sound and therefore it creates privacy in open spaces. And we could use it to cover scars of demolition in an effective way. It’s also durable, fireproof and environmentally friendly.”

With all its pros, wool felt also presented some challenges for the interior architects, especially when it came to the office furniture. Although felt can be used on floors, ceilings and walls, creating lamps and furniture was another matter. “All furniture from the desks and benches to the lampshades had to be custom designed by i29. The lamps were specially handmade by studio VanVilt.”

Another problem was presented in the office space itself, as some structural parts such as ceilings and staircases could not be altered. The designers were challenged to integrate these elements into their overall plan.

i29: “We had never used such an excessive amount of fabrics in a project before. For this project we searched for solutions to various problems which could be addressed by one grand gesture.”

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