The aggressive playfulness that characterizes a lot of office spaces nowadays, from Facebook to Google, has always struck us as vaguely infantilizing and, above all, misguided: Your IT guys don’t need a beach-themed break room, they need a quiet place to work so they can fix your damned computer. But here’s one company where a fun environment makes complete sense and, in fact, it’d be counterproductive any other way: Lego.
These are folks who play for a living, after all. (Lucky jerks.) So for Lego PMD in Billund, Denmark--where the toy giant develops new products--Danish designers Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord created a 21,500-square-foot big-kid funhouse. There’s an aerial walkway covered in blue padding to resemble a puffy cloud. There are cartoonishly oversized wall graphics, including one of the Lego man, and lush bonsai gardens built into the tables. There’s even a slide. (For getting to meetings faster?)
The idea is to evoke in employees the same sense of wonder that illuminates childhood, the better for understanding their pint-sized customers (and, in turn, designing for them). “Where does work stop and imagination start?” the designers say. “Through the physical design, the children’s fantasy worlds become part of the everyday, creating the setting for the creation of new design for new games and play.”
And it’s not like Lego PMD is all play and no work. The office has a mix of collaborative spaces (open meeting rooms, show-and-tell podiums) and private rooms (individual offices, enclosed meeting rooms, a “Fun Zone” where Lego’s tiniest employees test new models) to support the different stages of product development. Because in the end, creating fun is serious business.