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Design that Celebrates the Power of the Press

When Volume Inc. was hired by Bloomberg to help the media giant create a work environment that captured and communicated its unique identity, the San Francisco design firm had little idea of how impactful the assignment would ultimately be.

Bloomberg has long been a giant in the fields of journalism and technology. For the company’s tech hub in San Francisco, it wanted a workspace that showcased the company as an esteemed player in the technology space. Meanwhile, they wanted their Washington DC office to reflect the mixture of journalism, politics and finance that characterizes the nation’s capital.

For companies like Bloomberg, “the work space has become this branding element in itself,” says Volume Principal Eric Heiman. “That’s what attracts people to work there.” Through the use of environmental graphics and wayfinding, Volume set out to create a graphic system that would make a lasting impression.

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Celebrating Science and Creativity
When Volume began work on the San Francisco office, it became clear that certain seemingly contradictory dynamics were at work. Bloomberg wanted to house a modern workspace in an old building so there was a tension between the historic and the contemporary.

Then there was the balance between creativity and logic. “The work Bloomberg does starts with hard data and hard science, but they’re trying to find new creative ways in which to express it and use it,” Heiman says.

To express that duality, Volume invoked the imagery of Platonic solids, symbols that Heiman says straddle the line between art and science. The Platonic solids were believed to be the building blocks of the physical world while also possessing spiritual and symbolic properties.

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One of the goals of the project was to place emphasis on the unique location of the San Francisco office. To accomplish this, Volume identified meeting rooms not only by their names but by their GPS coordinates. They also hired a type designer to create a custom number set for that location.

Other highlights of the San Francisco location include plaques peppered throughout the office that showcase local research-based discoveries and accomplishments, as well as wall space designated for letting employees post information and inspirational content.

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The Political Power of the Press
While San Francisco is known for technology, Washington DC is a historic city when it comes to journalism. With its focus on politics, some of the biggest news stories in history have been uncovered in the nation’s capital.

To pay homage to the important role of journalism, particularly as it relates to politics, Volume looked to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which calls for freedom of the press. In the D.C. office, the First Amendment was carved into the marble that circles the perimeter of the main floor. “The idea is that the press is protected by the First Amendment so we wanted to physically and symbolically protect them with the text from the First Amendment,” Heiman explains.

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Adding to the political theme, conference rooms were named after government agencies and departments, while the office’s larger meeting rooms were named after larger government bodies such as the United Nations.

Video also played a big role in the design of the DC office. Since Bloomberg is the epitome of up-to-date data, Volume created dynamic visual content for the symmetrical video walls that show different ways to use data more dynamically. The walls showcase weather, currency rates, headlines and even the history of the company.

In creating such innovative uses of Bloomberg’s space, Volume helped to produce workplace environments that exude character and express the company’s important role in uncovering truth and demanding justice. “I think it’s exciting that we created something that is permanent and has this symbolic power,” Heiman says.

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Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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