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Design Projects: Skype Headquarters

Design Projects: Skype Headquarters

Project: Skype North American Headquarters

Location: Palo Alto, California

Who: Design Blitz

Project Goal: Create a world-class office that would differentiate Skype from their Bay Area competitors in the recruitment of talent. The space not only had to be a design statement in keeping with the client's modern, but fun personality, it also had to meet very specific acoustic requirements to support their extensive use of AV.

Brunklaus Amsterdam Shady Tree Pendant-110

Location/Room: The Cabin

Distinct and unique spaces facilitate three types of working: collaboration, contemplation and concentration.

Light Used: Brunklaus Amsterdam Shady Tree Pendant-110

Why This Light Was Selected: The Cabin is a tongue-in-cheek lounge space complete with faux bois mirrors and cowhide rug. The space implies a western-style California casual which the Shady Tree compliments perfectly by continuing the clean, modern vibe of the open office on the outside; only revealing its woodsy interior once the user takes a seat below. The sepia scene influenced all of the material selections for the space.

Foscarini Big Bang Chandelier in White

Location/Room: Welcome Area

The project entailed a tenant improvement of 54,000 square feet of existing office space to support 250 employees.

Light Used: Foscarini Big Bang Chandelier in White

Why This Light Was Selected: We wanted something that would support the mid-century feel reflected in the architecture and the furniture. We also wanted an iconic light. The Big Bang is a statement fixture that, in white, compliments the predominantly white space while also reinforcing the focus in this area on objects and interventions.

Bocci 14.7 Seven Pendant Chandelier

Location/Room: Welcome Area

Lighting was used in the project to transform the space without having to change the architecture. Their use of light creates moments of pause, giving the client a multitude of spatial experiences.

Light Used: Bocci 14.7 Seven Pendant Chandelier

Why This Light Was Selected: This is the first fixture a visitor sees upon entering Skype's office. It helps to anchor the reception desk and prepares the visitor for the sense of modern-influenced whimsy that is embodied in the rest of the project. The Bocci light is delicate so it works in concert with the reception area to tie the various materials and elements together without overpowering any of them.

Foscarini Big Bang Chandelier in Red

Location/Room: Level 2 Lobby

A simple palette and restrained use of finishes unites the largely open-plan workspace. Furniture and lighting provided color and an additional layer of detail.

Light Used: Foscarini Big Bang Chandelier in Red

Why This Light Was Selected: Throughout the project we played with the idea of light vs. dark. The two lobbies are stacked directly atop one another and connected by a circular stair. One literally ascends into darkness, where the Big Bang in red explodes overhead against the graphite backdrop. The Big Bang in red also anchors a ring of red seats.

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About Design Blitz

Who: Seth Hanley, AIA and Melissa Wallin, AAIA

Design Philosophy: Less can actually be more. Really! The key is knowing what to edit to bring out the essence of a project while not devaluing its spirit. We believe in smaller footprints and higher quality. What does luxury mean anyway? It's more than just name and hype; more than just a price tag or a status symbol. It's about quality, function, and well-being.

Where They Search for Inspiration: Hardware stores.

Best Lighting Tip: Provide eye-level lighting in spaces where people can see themselves, and always use dimmer switches.

Favorite Spaces to Design: Small spaces in big spaces. Creating a sense of feeling of space in public settings is a challenge that requires a designer to rely on human instinct, as much as any learned design skills.

Dream Project: A skyscraper, and for all the wrong reasons.

Best Design Advice Ever Received: Edit. Don't try and use all your best ideas in one project.


Images courtesy of Design Blitz SF, Matthew Millman Photography and HoffmanChrisman.

Seth Hanley, Principal + CEOMelissa Wallin, Principal + Creative Director

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