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Lab La Bla infuses functional whimsy at the E.ON Headquarters in Sweden

Lab La Bla-designed workspace interiors of energy company E.ON comprise a vivid ensemble of sun-yellow furnishing and fluid sculptures that draw curious gazes.

by Aarthi MohanPublished on : Aug 24, 2023

Nestled within the vibrant city of Malmo in Sweden, the E.ON Headquarters stands as a testament to innovation and design synergy. Rising nine stories tall, this energy company, spanning 22,000 square metres, embodies a seamless blend of form and function. Swedish design studio, Lab La Bla’s transformative vision for the E.ON Headquarters has reshaped the way we perceive work environments. Beyond the conventional cubicles and monotonous layouts, the headquarters offers a fresh perspective on office spaces. From the bustling reception area to the tranquil lounge spaces, every nook and cranny has been crafted to serve a purpose, fostering collaboration, focus, relaxation, and interaction. STIR delves into the distinctive contours of the E.ON Headquarters, exploring how Lab La Bla redefines the boundaries of workplace design, forging a path towards the future of functional workspaces.

Design duo at Lab La Bla - Axel Landström & Victor Isaksson Pirtti | E.ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Design duo at Lab La Bla - Axel Landström & Victor Isaksson Pirtti Image: Lars Brønseth

Alex and Victor, the creative minds behind Lab La Bla are dedicated explorers of the exceptional within the ordinary. Their philosophy draws from the juxtaposition of contrasts such as hardness and softness, urban and remote, wanted and unwanted. “In our practice, we try to find absurd ways to ’hack’ traditional materials and processes. Our work usually comes as a reaction to dysfunctional and non-sustainable processes inherent in our industry, and in this office design we tried to pinpoint some of these qualities in a range of objects and artworks,” the duo shared with STIR when discussing their design philosophy.

A journey into the hyper-ordinary | E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
A journey into the hyper-ordinary Image: Lars Brønseth

Artistic pursuits for these industrial designers begin by deep diving into the world of materials—specifically, those that often go unnoticed. Hyper-ordinary materials, ranging from glass and aluminium to MDF and foam have been artfully repurposed to create captivating surfaces and textures. These materials, typically associated with cost-effective solutions, seamlessly integrate with end-of-life materials such as discarded wine corks and bricks, resulting in surfaces that invite touch, emphasising an experiential aesthetic where the tactile experience surpasses mere visuals

From concept to reality | E.ON Headquarters | Lab La Bla | STIRworld
From concept to reality Image: Lars Brønseth

Lab La Bla’s design methodology is a collaborative and innovative journey, where initial ideas gradually evolve into stunning masterpieces. The design team contemplates the essence of each space, pondering its purpose and context. Questions such as “What is the function of this space? Who is sitting here? Why are they sitting here? How long are they working, waiting, resting?” drive their meticulous approach. This results in spaces that cater to a diverse array of needs, from focused work to creative brainstorming and social interaction, all while avoiding monotony and generic design.

Breathing life into spaces | E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Breathing life into spaces Image: Lars Brønseth

In this specific project, the functional requirements were extensive encompassing areas such as the reception, coat rooms and lounge spaces. Waiting, talking, resting and unwinding—each activity was considered during the process. The design was geared towards creating spaces and functionalities catering to a broad spectrum of individuals, offering a blend of focused, creative and social environments. The studio aimed to design for the masses without succumbing to predictability.

A reception with a purpose| E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
A reception with a purpose Image: Lars Brønseth

One can’t help but be intrigued by the captivating elements that are peppered throughout the headquarters. The design studio’s commitment to breaking free from the visual norms of corporate spaces, blending design innovation with the surrounding aesthetics, is both inspiring and refreshing. The reception area is a testament to the studio’s innovative skills. Materials like MDF and screws, usually relegated to utility, take centre stage as they are coated with nylon fibre—a homage to the technological finesse of the automotive industry. The outcome is a vivid ensemble of sun-yellow furnishings that marry durability with artistic expression, serving as a nod to the allure of airport interiors. Complementing this is sofa tables crafted from aluminium and slumped glass, exuding modernity that beckons guests to a realm of style and sophistication.

Function meets Aesthetic with modular coat rooms | E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Function meets aesthetics with modular coat rooms Image: Lars Brønseth

Lab La Bla’s transformative touch permeates every facet of the office space. The coat rooms were reimagined with modular aluminium systems, spanning eight floors and twenty-five spaces. This innovation streamlines organisation while emanating understated elegance that befits a contemporary workspace. The seamless integration of form and function defines these coat rooms, melding efficiency and practicality.

Artistry amidst productivity, elements in stone and glass | E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Artistry amidst productivity, elements in stone and glass Image: Lars Brønseth

A monumental diabase structure, weighing 1400kg, captivates employees as they traverse towards the barista. Hand-sculpted from a single piece, its polished and sand-blasted contours invite tactile exploration. Adjacent to this, a 3-metre-tall glass sculpture boasts a graphic pattern derived from a CT scan of wooden fibre.

(L-R) Where creativity takes centre stage; bringing nature and comfort with pieces of pine furniture; the piece de resistance—tables and stools made of stone | E. ON Headquarters | Lab La Bla | STIRworld
(L-R) Where creativity takes centre stage; bringing nature and comfort with pieces of pine furniture; the piece de resistance—tables and stools made of stone Image: Lars Brønseth

The lounge area radiates innovation in varied forms. Glass vases and sculptures crafted from blown glass infused into salvaged tree stems, redefine sustainability by repurposing weathered wood. Modular sofas and poufs wrapped in ground-down wine corks, cultivate an ambience of conviviality, setting the stage for lively work gatherings and social interactions. Pine furniture alongside cork foam cushions, create an inviting oasis of relaxation, bringing nature and comfort. The piece de resistance comes in the form of stone tables and stools, each weaving an individual narrative into the fabric of E.ON’s ethos.

Sculptures that inspire and intrigue| E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Sculptures that inspire and intrigue Image: Lars Brønseth

The integration of art and sculptures within an office environment significantly contributes to the overall ambience and employee well-being. “We had the freedom to select intriguing areas in the architectural layout of the working space. As an employee, I would value the unique element capable of monetarily transporting me from my own headspace—whether it is a texture, surface or an interplay of light. I think it's interesting to see how some of our work punctuates the visual space while harmonising with the otherwise utilitarian corporate aesthetic. We have had a few E.ON employees reaching out to express their delight in being surrounded by numerous visually appealing elements to gaze upon touch and feel,” the designers explain to STIR on injecting excitement into work hours.

(L) Transforming the unwanted, (R) sustainability as a driving force | Lab La Bla | STIRworld
(L) Transforming the unwanted; (R) sustainability as a driving force Image: Lars Brønseth

A hallmark of Lab La Bla’s design ethos is sustainability. While using recycled products is a step in the right direction, true sustainability lies in understanding the potential of these materials. “The mere use of unwanted materials doesn’t necessarily put something in line with principles of sustainability. We try to look at design through the lens of the unwanted—to understand its potential. The project is filled with historical references and materials that tell their own little stories that might help in fostering a working environment that encourages eco-awareness,” emphasises the team.

Redefining the boundaries of office design | E. ON Headquarters| Lab La Bla | STIRworld
Redefining the boundaries of office design Image: Lars Brønseth

 “Creating work for an office that houses 1500 employees was both a challenge and inspiration. There were a lot of things to keep track of in crafting elements capable of enduring the rigours of a demanding environment. I think it's exciting to see how much effort and trust the company has offered to us to promote feelings of well-being and togetherness for their employees. I hope our efforts in creating fun and tactile interior designs, provide a dynamic blend of spaces where employees can feel focused, creative or social '', conclude the architects on their design vision for the E.ON headquarters.

Project Details

Name: E.ON Headquarters
Designers: Lab La Bla (Axel Landström & Victor Isaksson Pirtti)
Location: Malmö, Sweden
Client: E.ON
Year of completion: May 2023

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