Dutch interior designer Eric Kuster is an all-rounder: he designs homes and offices, creates furniture, fabrics and home fragrances, writes books and publishes Entourage magazine twice a year. But his work always abides by the principle of metropolitan luxury. Which is also the premise behind his design for the Urban Business Center in Vienna. We asked him about the office of the future.
What exactly does the term “metropolitan luxury” mean to you?
Metropolitan luxury is synonymous with a certain lifestyle: international, comfortable and luxurious. We’re trying to create an office with the atmosphere of a five-star hotel, where the guest takes centre stage. So that means incorporating things such as a spa-like bathroom alongside a comfortable living room and a luxurious bedroom.
Which materials, furniture and colours do you choose for this kind of office?
Most run-of-the-mill offices are very monotone. There are very few options when it comes to materials and colours. Which is why the majority of offices look so alike. We’re trying to create a homely atmosphere. And we do that by using a wide range of materials like stone, leather, wood, metal and glass. And bold textiles and carpets. The aim is to produce a warm atmosphere where our tenants feel at ease.
Why do people like to mix home design with office design?
Times are changing. People have become more flexible and thanks to laptops and the internet they can pretty much work from anywhere. Which is why we don’t need any space for files and paperwork – we simply save everything online. And that’s changed office architecture. Today it’s much more important to make an office into somewhere where you feel at ease. You should feel at home in your office – but at the same time, it has to be different from your home. We achieve that balance by including lots of open space, natural light and nature. As well as high-end materials. And the more comfortable your employees feel, the better their performance. That’s our impression, anyway.
What are your tips for creating an attractive and inspiring workplace?
Timeless materials like wood, stone or metal. Don’t use too many synthetics like ceramic or artificial wood. It’s important to strike a balance between comfort and utility. The light in a workplace shouldn’t be too cold. Why not include a couple of plants or other natural elements like flowers or wood? People feel much more at ease in natural surroundings.
Can you explain the requirements for the Unique Business Center in the Goldenes Quartier?
Our task was to create a top-end design for a high-productivity workplace. Which is how we came up with the idea of running the UBC like a five-star hotel. Instead of renting rooms in an actual five-star hotel, we created an office with the same features as there are in a five-star hotel. And of course it’s in one of the best locations in one of the most important European cities. Here, we not only have a welcoming, open-minded atmosphere, but also the best possible infrastructure, quick internet and top-class satellite connections. That’s the foundation for success at the UBC in Vienna.
You’ve created an office that lots of different people will share. What kind of person is the UBC aimed at?
First and foremost, it should be an office where everyone feels comfortable – whether they’re the CEO of an international corporation or a small, creative one-man or one-woman business that hosts meetings with clients there.
How often do you restyle your own office?
A finished and well-thought-through design has to last at least ten years. So I only rarely restyle my office. And when I do so, then it’s only small things such as giving it a new coat of paint. I’m not a fan of changing well-planned and designed things. A beautifully styled area will only get more beautiful with time!