Insights into how Apple’s design team crafts the future

In our final WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing of 2021, we look inside the notoriously secretive design studio at Apple Park in California, and showcase how Sweden is pushing the frontiers of sustainable office space

Few places on earth are more secretive and jealously guarded than Apple’s design studio at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, a workplace made famous by the pioneering work of Jony Ive and his team on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and a host of other successful products.

The Foster-designed corporate headquarters for one of the world’s richest and most innovative companies has a high-security shield around it and a certain mystique is attached to how its design team operates, even though Ive is no longer with the company.

‘Inside Apple’s creative inner sanctum, the mood is relaxed, calm, quiet and focused on craft….’

But, once inside Apple’s creative inner sanctum, the mood is remarkably relaxed, calm, quiet and focused on craft making and experimentation, according to a Wallpaper magazine exclusive. Its journalists were given access to the workings of Apple’s design team with Evans Hankey, VP of industrial design, and Alan Dye, VP of human interface design, acting as guides.

The space has large wooden tables for the design team to gather, natural ventilation systems and views out onto a forest of trees. Having designers from different disciplines sitting next to each other is part of Apple’s culture, recalling a comment made by Ive in 2017: ‘We can have industrial designers sat next to a font designer, sat next to a sound designer, who is sat next to a motion graphics expert, who is sat next to a colour designer, who is sat next to somebody who is developing objects in soft materials.’

Alan Dye brings the story right up to date. He is quoted by Wallpaper as saying:  ‘We care about making great products, but we’ve worked equally hard at making a great team and culture. A lot of that came from the beginning. Steve (Jobs) defined Apple by its design. We always remember him saying that design is not just a veneer. It’s not just how things look, it’s about how things work.’

Outdoor space on the island

Scandinavian projects made a lot of the running in terms of pushing the frontiers of sustainable workplace design in 2021. Now, the region looks set to consolidate its leadership with news of a sustainable office project on Universitetsholmen, an artificial island in Malmö harbour, Sweden.

Construction company Skanska is investing nearly £30 million in an office building, Oas, comprising seven floors with a leasable area of about 7,500 square metres. Each office tenant in the building will have their own balcony and access to a common roof terrace adapted for outdoor work. On the entrance level will be rooms for public activities, as well as bicycle bays, showers and changing rooms to support sustainable travel.

The building is designed to encourage a healthy and sustainable lifestyle for employees, along with a connection with nature. It is reported to be health certified according to the WELL framework, and sustainability certified according to LEED version 4, level Platinum. The Oas building is also targeting a net-zero climate impact during its lifetime.

Construction work has now begun and the building is scheduled for completion during the first quarter of 2024. You might have thought that Swedish winters might deter the provision of terraces and balconies but, wherever you are in the world right now, it seems that outdoor space is on the agenda in the wake of the pandemic.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 22 December 2021.
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