By Nancy Amdur
When global design firm Gensler set out to design a new Seattle office space for Getty Images, the company looked to showcase the stock photo agency’s creativity.
“Creativity is a big thing, and you want to be differentiated as a company,” said Susana Covarrubias, a principal at Gensler who was the design director on the project. “Their intent was to be one player in the market that is pushing the creativity aspect forward.”
The design of the workplace impacts performance, employee engagement and innovation
Getty Images moved from its office in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood into a 60,000 square foot space at 605 5th Ave. S. in the city’s International District in 2012, with plans to make the office more efficient, Covarrubias said. But the company also looked to highlight the technology side of its business.
The company wanted more of a “startup feel,” she said, to be able to attract and retain talent. This was a switch from its previous space, designed by Gensler about 13 years ago, when the company wanted a more “mature” looking office design, Covarrubias said.
Keeping this new direction in mind, Gensler worked with London-based Bluebottle Architecture and Design, which had previously redesigned Getty Images’ London office, to create “a very organic layout, nothing too rigid, to reflect a culture that is more creative,” Covarrubias said.
A more raw, tech office space feel is provided through finishes such as plywood, exposed ceilings, polished concrete floors and rope, though Covarrubias said the space overall feels “sophisticated with an industrial backdrop.”
Along with helping to recruit talent, workplace design can inspire employees’ work output.
“The design of the workplace impacts performance, employee engagement and innovation,” according to Gensler’s 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey.
As such, photos from Getty Images’ collection are used throughout the space to help inspire emotion and “connect people to what Getty is all about,” Covarrubias said.
Photos were chosen carefully “to add to the feel” of the office, she said. For instance, a photo of Seattle’s Space Needle covers an entire wall in a conference room. “As you’re sitting in the conference room, you feel that is a window into the Space Needle,” Covarrubias said. Another room features a large photo on the ceiling of a turtle swimming in the ocean.
Black is the main color within the office to help make the agency’s images pop. Splashes of bright orange, green and yellow accent the space. The open-space design features a variety of collaborative areas and meeting rooms along with quiet rooms “where you can get away from the noise,” Covarrubias said.
Creating space to reflect the company’s values also was part of the design plan. Employees and visitors to the Getty Images’ office are immediately drawn into the company’s culture with a lounge area situated behind the reception desk. In fact, the reception desk itself extends out to allow people to sit there.
“When you enter the space, you are exposed to the culture of Getty right from the start, because you see the people sitting, having lunch, having coffee,” Covarrubias said. “Sometimes companies do this behind the scenes. [At Getty] you enter into the heart of the company.”
Photography courtesy of Gensler