OKAMURA Corporation is Japan’s leading solutions provider for many diverse sectors ranging from manufacturing industrial machinery, custom display fixtures, innovative furniture and life-saving medical equipment. In particular, Okamura is well-known for the rich legacy in the Japanese office furniture industry – pioneering sustainable furniture designs that improve office environments. The SL+A team had the honour of collaborating on the redesign of the Okamura corporate executive floor at their Tokyo headquarters, and we are proud to unveil the stunning “WeLabo” office space.
The “WeLabo” office space embraces the tagline “from Identity to ‘We’dentity,” reflecting Okamura’s commitment to consistently improving societal and global impact. This visionary executive floor embodies the essence of the “new Okamura” by blending tradition and innovation.
In contrast to traditional workspaces fixated on closed-off management floors, WeLabo fosters a welcoming and open culture. This is a place to improve, experiment, and verify office layouts while allowing partners the opportunity to practice work style reform for better outcomes. The curved ceiling and floor design promote cross-functional interaction, while the expanded metal ceiling bathes the space in soft, liberating light.
To facilitate collaboration, WeLabo features cutting-edge elements for web conferencing, including Okamura’s very own innovative, award winning portable battery product known simply as OC. This 2023 iF Design Award winner eliminates the need for constant power source searches, ensuring uninterrupted workflow and enabling users to be fully mobile around the office.
At its core, WeLabo retains a distinct Japanese character, where managers and employees interact both on a daily basis and also during special events. The craftsmanship and organizational skills date all the way back to 1945 when Okamura was founded by Kenjiro Yoshiwara to produce life-saving industrial products such as airplanes and automobiles. These founding principles have been passed down as a mainstay of the immutable Okamura spirit to this day. Our design team felt strongly about featuring steel to create the “core” of our design as this was the original material used by the company. The result was a visually appealing art installation constructed with steel hanging mesh rack from recycled Okamura products. To make this display even more special, the project was commissioned and completed by two skilled craftsmen (Okamura employees) welding a total of 50,000 pieces together over a period of three months.
The curved ceiling and floor design of WeLabo helps to create a welcoming atmosphere within the confines of the management floor and encourages cross-functional interaction. The expanded metal ceiling allows lighting to gently illuminate the entire ceiling, contributing greatly to the soft, bright, and liberating feel of the space.
In crafting WeLabo, the design team meticulously selected fabrics, colors, and organized spatial arrangements to create a people-centered office space. This design captures the softness, freedom, and connectedness that define the “new Okamura.” WeLabo encourages communication and empowers individuals to produce the greatest results by working together.
Project Team: Noriko Kitamura, Makiko Nishida, Eiko Hatori
Photos by: Nacasa & Partners