Starwood’s 'Starlab' Work Office Incorporates Innovation, Technology
PHOTO: Starlab's digital chandelier (courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts)
Last week, Starlab was unveiled.
No, this isn’t some futuristic venue in the upcoming “Star Wars” movie.
But, with the new 46,000-square-foot stylistic bi-level workplace in Manhattan, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is nonetheless looking toward the future.
Starlab, Starwood’s brand new innovation studio, is an extension of Starwood’s concept of what today’s work office should look like, following in the footsteps of the Starwood Experience at the company’s global headquarters in Stamford, Conn., and its former Tribeca-based design center.
The Garment District facility, which now houses Starwood digital, design and luxury brand teams in one urban office for the first time, is based around innovation and technology itself, creating an environment that Starwood hopes will spawn more innovative experiences for guests.
Digital and social content was a major focal point for Starwood’s in-house creative team and design partner VM Architecture Studio PC when developing Starlab. At the office entrance, a smart mirror works as a digital display, highlighting important video news, photography and user-generated content about the company throughout the day. Next to the office’s communal dining area, five digital frames act as a morphing gallery, each displaying a running feed of guests’ Instagram posts. Heck, a digital chandelier serves as the office’s centerpiece, its accompanying display providing up-to-the-minute tweets from guests who use the hashtag #SPGLife.
Mike Tiedy, senior vice president of brand design and innovation for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, called Starlab “an evolution rather than a revolution” of Starwood’s approach to workplaces.
“The design of Starlab reflects the increasing effect social connectivity has on global business,” Tiedy added. “We merged our high-touch business with high-tech thinking to design the office.”
Of course, Starlab also houses a Tech Lab to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology.
“Technology spurs more travel as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, and it’s fundamentally changing the behavior and expectations of our guests,” Tiedy said. “At Starlab’s Tech Lab, associates are able to experiment and test the company’s latest digital innovations, which included the recent game-changing introduction of SPG Keyless. As the first hotel company to launch mobile, keyless check-in, Starwood continues to put a stake in the ground, rolling SPG Keyless out to 150 hotels and 30,000 door locks around the globe in the first half of 2015.
“There are many more innovations that a cross-section of the company’s digital, design and brand teams are working on to rethink how we provide our guests with a better way to experience the world,” said Tiedy.
Starlab’s meeting spaces and even employee desks are designed with the latest trends in mind. There are a variety of cross-functional workspaces, from more intimate spots to bigger spaces for large-scale collaboration. Traditional conference rooms have been replaced with designer suites representing Starwood’s The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W and Le Méridien brands (the W Suite reflects the brand’s “cocktail culture,” replacing the conference table with an LED-illuminated bar, complete with a beverage display, bar stools, smoked bronze mirrors and a revolving “art wall” dedicated to storytelling from W hotels and resorts around the world). Individual desks can be personalized for employees, whether they want to sit while they work, stand or balance on a stability ball.
On top of that, Starlab features The Library, a space for both informal meetings (featuring bleacher-style seating, flexible tables, design boards and projectors) and dining (including an outdoor terrace and communal tables with flexible seating options).
“People seek out inspiring spaces to conduct casual meetings, flexible seating to scroll through a tablet presentation or individual work areas that offer some privacy,” Tiedy said. “Our associates are no different, and these guest trends became relevant as we started to design Starlab – so, there are modular seating areas with banquettes for smaller groups to ideate and a Library for informal meetings with bleacher-style seating and flexible tables. We also wanted to reinvent the traditional staid conference room in a more experiential immersive way; therefore we have designer suites representing The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W and Le Méridien brands that allow associates, owners, developers, partners and press experience our distinct brands just by walking from one conference room to the next.”
Starlab is also pursuing LEED certification, backing up Starwood’s commitment to reduce energy use by 20 percent, water use by 30 percent and carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
For an inside look on the creation process and innovations of Starwood teams from around the world, check out Starwood’s virtual Starlab at www.starlab.tumblr.com.
More by Ryan Rudnansky
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