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Corporate culture and design - Theoretical reflections on case-studies in the web design industry

January 2003 | Theo van der Voordt, Juriaan van Meel, Froukje Smulders, Saskia, Teurling

In the paper a framework to study the relationship between culture and office design is presented. Different levels of culture are discussed as well as various ways in which culture can be expressed in the physical work environment. The framework is applied to contemporary changes in organizational culture and office design. Offices in progressive companies seem to be dominated by 'hip' and 'cool' design, colourful materials, luxurious facilities such as gyms or lounge areas and gimmicks such as jukeboxes and pool tables. In this article the authors try to find out whether these characteristics are the visible expressions of a new workplace culture.  Should the 'office-de-luxe' be interpreted as a hype or are the inhabiting organizations the forerunners of new ways of working? To answer these questions we take a look at the what-is-called dot-com industry. By studying three cases in the webdesign industry the authors try to achieve two goals: 1) a better understanding of the relation between office design and culture, and 2) exploring new workplace demands and desires. Confronting theory with practice, similarities and contradictions are observed between corporate architecture, identity and culture.

The paper was published in Environments by DESIGN Vol. 4 no. 2