Coolest Offices in Manila: NuWorks Interactive Labs
Digital storytelling and tech go live in this engaging space.
(SPOT.ph) “We were your typical garage start-up seven years ago,” says Jeff Saez, chair and president of NuWorks Interactive Labs. Fast forward to 2016 and the NuWorks office is far from your conventional garage set-up. Now hosting 100 people working, playing and creating digital content, the company has evolved into a digital agency covering social media, data integration, analytics, ideation, strategy, and digital content production.
Its new office is a testament to the rapid growth that “Storyteching” inspires. “Storyteching” is the lifeblood of NuWorks—telling human stories through creative technology. Every square foot recounts parts of the story of the company itself. “The layout is founded on our own office interactions,” adds Jeff. The team turned to personal inspiration via Pinterest, restaurants, and Silicon Valley hotspots to turn the horse head-shaped space into a workable office.
Guests are welcomed into a vibrant lobby that, from the get-go, initiates you into the interactive experience. Guests’ names are flashed on the screen above the reception desk as a fun welcome, made even more vibrant by the row of hipster Buddhas. The lobby gives you a glimpse of the phoenix graffiti mural done by artist Egg Fiasco. “It stands for our philosophy of constant self-invention and evolution,” Jeff explains.
The waiting area is decorated with upcycled bathtubs turned into smart seating. The highlight of the space is the cocktail arcade machine, housing old school games and doubling as a functional piece to hold your drinks during NuWorks’ many in-house parties. These fun furniture pieces (both designed by Paco Pili) give you a taste of the creative exploration NuWorks is known for. Decking the wall right beside the waiting area is some foliage demonstrating the bracket—}— an important coding symbol that represents the tech side of NuWorks, which, when flipped over also stands for the open pages of a book (a play on its storytelling aspect).
The NuWorks logo greets everyone at the lobby. A play on the telephone cord, it represents many facets of the industry the company is involved in: strength, flexibility, and connectivity all play a central part in the "Storyteching" NuWorks has become known for.
No office is complete without a meeting room, and NuWorks’ modular space allows for its conference areas to be expanded or shrunk, depending on their needs. Aside from an interactive projector that supports and plays on UX, an interesting element in the Think Tank room is the “hidden Mickey.” The NuWorks logo—a telephone cord—is smartly hidden in the wood paneling on the ceiling.
“Seventy percent of your life is spent in the office, so we wanted a space that could give everyone a view,” says Jeff. “This part of the office is the life blood—it’s a space that inspires engagement and brings together both accounts and creative.”
The large, brick-walled open space plays host to the bulk of NuWorks’ operation. A dynamic atmosphere pervades the brick-walled area, with people getting up and interacting with each other constantly, and even walking over to a Command Center located at one end of the space, providing a dashboard for real time research on what’s being talked about online for social media management. There are many provisions in the space that adapt to the way everyone works. From a white board strip that runs through the perimeter of the walls (allowing people to brainstorm on-the-go), to pull-out pedestals that are placed on casters and cushioned for extra seating. “Having everyone in one room helps build a similar culture and a shared experience,” Jeff adds.
One of the fun touches to the space is a red telephone booth, designed to allow privacy for phone calls—something essential in such a communal office.
Subscribing to the Silicon Valley office model means you’re giving an equal amount of space for work and play. The playground functions as a fun area to help get you out of your head and away from your desk—either to rest, take a break, or to come up with new ideas formed from being in a completely different environment. “It helps with brainstorming for ideation—especially with the swings and the hammock. People can zone in and zone out on the porch,” says Jeff. “It’s a good place to hang out during overtime, and for parties, people like the slide.”
The large tree adds a great outdoor touch to the space—an idea spurred by The Wholesome Table’s tree. Jeff spotted the décor in the restaurant and tracked down the supplier and maker to help them follow the same concept in the NuWorks Space. Scooters, hoverboards, and go karts are scattered all throughout the office, while a ball pit makes everyone feel like a kid again.
“Building a loft was a challenge because the administration wanted to make sure we didn’t have any structural issues,” adds Jeff. “We’re used to a lot of revisions in our line of work, so we did find a way to compromise.”
Not your ordinary pantry, the NuWorks socialization and eating space has a stage (essential for parties), an in-house photo studio, and a mezzanine area that adds more brainstorming, zone- out space, and also offers a cozy nook for people who need to step out of their desks and gather in front of a singular screen.
Jeff’s office carries the same view that the main area has. Natural light is an important component in keeping the atmosphere light and airy. Another fun part of the private office is the movable bookshelf which opens up into what Jeff calls the “Big Brother” room—an intimate, private, corner space that does not feel confining at all.
“We say ‘ride the dark horse,’ when we talk about our floor plan,” says Jeff. “The neck, our main office, is the life blood; the mouth is where we eat and party; and the brains is the management.” NuWorks lives and breathes all the stories it likes to tell—if you ever needed a surge of creative inspiration for work or for personal life, this is exactly the kind of space you'd want to find yourself in.
Photos by Toto Labrador; lobby photo courtesy of NuWorks