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Where design creates a sense of community and improves productivity

As co-working spaces thrive, it’s the small details that make a difference to those looking for a space to work, network

WeWork India creative director Francois Gramoli says the pantry is his favourite spot for its energy.
WeWork India creative director Francois Gramoli says the pantry is his favourite spot for its energy. ( Photo: Jithendra M/Mint)

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As you walk in through the sliding doors of the WeWork co-working office at Embassy Tech Village in Bengaluru, you see a vast expanse with an eclectic mix of furniture, pop art, murals, artful light fixtures and a snazzy pantry that wouldn’t look out of place in an upmarket restaurant. As more co-working spaces pop up across the country, it’s probably the small details that make a difference to working professionals looking to find a space to not just work but also to network.

As the creative director for WeWork India, Francois Gramoli plays a major role in the design and conceptualization of WeWork properties. While walking us through the 1,26,740 sq. ft building space spread across five floors, Gramoli explains how they have “created a workplace that serves as a second home for our members”.

Space for shared meals

One of things the WeWork team picked up in the Indian market was that most office-goers like to carry lunch from home and enjoyed sharing their meal with friends and colleagues. According to Gramoli, this is the reason that the communal dining spaces in WeWork offices in India are larger than those in the West. In New York, where Gramoli was based before moving to India, most people would step out for lunch or order and eat at their desks. Here, WeWork has ensured that there’s a large enough pantry and communal dining space on each floor.

The pantry on the ground floor is the largest in this office. Overlooking a large communal dining space and lounge area, this is also Gramoli’s favourite spot. “I love standing here, sipping coffee while watching the energy of the floor, and the warm glow from the light box (a 30-foot light fixture that spans the length of the pantry and Food and Beverage counter),” says Gramoli. It’s lunchtime when we visit the office and soon enough, all the tables are occupied. Every Monday, to fend off the start-of-the-week blues, there is a TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) breakfast buffet laid out for members. There is also a self-service snack and beverage bar, Honesty Market, where people are trusted to make the payment through a credit card or the WeWork app for anything they pick up.

The seating in this space is dynamic— from high tables with rotating stools to long community-style dining tables with benches to a line of bright yellow booths on one side of the room. As Gramoli points out, this area gets a lot of footfalls and the varied seating allows members to hold informal meetings or social gatherings. There’s also a projector and screen in the centre for events when the space transforms into a sort of auditorium.

Room to work and play

While the game room on the ground floor, which has a TT table, carom board and foosball table, is probably the most popular room in the building, there are other spaces that cater to a variety of requirements.

There’s a compact New Mother’s room with a fridge, potpourri and a single sofa where one can extract breast milk in privacy and comfort. Next to it is a Wellness Room that members use for meditation or a quick power nap.

Meeting rooms range from the more informal Conversation Rooms to larger boardrooms equipped with audio visual equipment. Meeting rooms are done up in warmer terracotta tones as opposed to the lighter shades that dominate the common areas. “The use of warmer tones help incite enthusiasm and excitement among individuals, this is useful in triggering discussions particularly in meeting rooms where people usually host their brainstorming sessions,” Gramoli says.

Smart use of art

Whether it’s the street style tiger mural in the game room or the photography in the conference rooms and LED installations designed by the in-house arts and graphics team, Gramoli says everyone can find a piece of art they can identify with. “It’s a known fact that to be surrounded by art can be beneficial in many ways, and can inspire you,” he explains. The curated pieces are inspired by local elements of the region— some of the murals in this office were inspired by historical stone formations in the area. “The addition of such elements helps employees relate better to the workspace making them feel more welcome and comfortable. After all, comfort is an important factor in creating a workspace with a positive environment so as to help boost employee creativity and abstract thinking,” Gramoli adds.

In Work Tour, an employee gives Mint a tour of his or her favourite spaces in the office.

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