The lighting is very important to how we feel while at work – too little light makes us tired, too much can increase stress. At the gaming company King’s offices in Stockholm, light, sound and architecture are combined to create a work environment beyond the usual. The result is a dreamy forest oasis that promotes creativity, relationships and well-being among the employees.
Numerous studies show that lighting affects how we feel and perform at work. The right kind of lighting makes us more efficient and alert, and reduces the sick rates. On the other hand, poor lighting can cause consequences, such as stress, fatigue, vision difficulties and headaches. Researchers know today that partly it is due to how the light affects the body’s hormone production – when we spend time in dark rooms, the production of the sleeping hormone melatonin increases, and when we are subjected to light, the alertness hormone cortisol is secreted. In other words, by adjusting the lighting, we can control both our daily rhythm and our stress level.
Despite the fact that researchers agree that good lighting benefits the health, the question of lighting often end up on the back-burner when new work environment initiatives are to be implemented. A study conducted by Novus on behalf of Belysningsbranschen – the trade association for the lighting industry – nine out of ten people in professional employment in Sweden in 2015 felt that the lighting at the workplace is important to well-being – but only 20 percent of the office employees could adjust the brightness at their workstation.
For the successful Swedish mobile g aming company King, lighting became a key issue when part of the organization moved to new facilities during spring 2015. The new office, is mainly at a basement level – some sections without access to daylight entirely.
When King took over the facility, it was completely gutted and needed to be renovated from scratch. Interior designers Adolfsson & Partner were engaged for the transformation.
“We received a simple brief to work from – ‘it should have good lighting and it should resemble a forest’,” explains Hans Adolfsson, founder of Adolfsson & Partner.
So the concept took shape – the office on Kungsgatan would become a forest oasis with room for both intense work and relaxation, where light, sound and furnishings interact in an exciting overall experience. ÅF was given the main responsibility for all lighting design. The central idea was to create an inspiring environment that felt natural and heightened the senses, where the premises’ darkness was a part of the experience. The employees’ need of both quiet work areas and areas for social interaction governed the lighting design.
“We wanted the lighting to create a clear dynamic between calm and active areas in the office. Instead of lighting up the entire office, we turned it around and let some areas in the office keep their natural darkness,” says Martin Petersson at ÅF, Light Designer in charge of the project.
Good ambient lighting is important
Research shows that it is not only the brightness that affects how we feel – the light’s direction, quality and distribution in a room are of significance as well. In recent years, the so-called ambient light, the light that surrounds us on walls and in ceilings, proved to have a greater impact on us than previously believed – something that has been taken into consideration when developing King’s office. Instead of the standard case of only using ceiling lights, the rooms’ various architectural elements were used to create a holistic experience. Instead of only using ceiling lights, which is the standard, and the light is concentrated to where it is really needed.
In the new office, ÅF’s light design experts wanted the light to reflect the employees’ different ways of working. Many of the people who work at King are young people who do not require as much light as older employees. The solution was an individually adjustable desk light fitting in the form of a fishing rod, specially designed for the purpose by ÅF together with the interior designer Mia Cullin.
Light, sound and motion pictures in interaction
The office’s most unique elements are the magnificent indoor forest at the heart of the office. Of the office’s 1,540 square metres, 310 square metres are forest. Real spruce trees and green plants are mixed with stylized trees in a billowing landscape and can be enjoyed by the employees regardless of season and weather. An atrium in the ceiling lets in daylight. With sound effects, moving lights, video projections and interactive floors, the environment can change to simulate the seasons outside.
When King’s new office K36 was finished in November 2015 – after a record-fast build-up process – it was something beyond the standard. In 2016, the project won the lighting industry’s award, the Swedish Light Prize, for the way the light and furnishings interact and stimulate creativity. King’s employees also seem to feel they succeeded in creating an oasis that provides peace and quiet to work.
“The office on Kungsgatan has become a harmonious meeting place where staff from other King offices joins in to have coffee in a relaxing atmosphere. 200 people work here, but it’s incredibly calm and quiet,” says Hans Adolfsson.