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The Challenge

Design a new building that imbues openness and enthusiasm.

The Outcome

An entirely new headquarters and a reimagining of the company’s existing building, both focused on helping team members collaborate.

Brands don’t take bank holidays. A successful company doesn’t just find solutions during strict nine-to-five office hours—the strength of its relationship with its customers is based on openness to good ideas and flexibility around the unpredictable ways that real people live and work.

Over a five-year relationship with GS Shop, a multichannel commerce company based in Korea, IDEO helped the company develop a brand that reflected an emphasis on openness, transparency, enthusiasm, participation, personalization, and distinction.

When it was time for GS Shop to build a new headquarters, it wanted these ideals to be baked right into the structure of the new building, inspiring the interactions and work styles that would define the company’s future. The team started by looking at one of the most fundamental factors in their employees’ day-to-day experience, the physical spaces where they did their work.

IDEO helped us create an environment where our people can do their best work. Since the redesign, we’ve seen more collaboration and openness in the way people relate to one another.

Tae Soo Huh, GS Shop CEO and President

The designers broke down all the elements of the space, including everything from flexible wall configurations to nature-inspired fabric choices that brought the outside in. At the core of their decision-making was the intersection of environment and behavior: How could a certain configuration of desks help new ideas to bubble up? How might the transparency of the boardroom walls encourage executives to make more collaborative decisions?

Traditional Korean business culture places a strong emphasis on hierarchy, but IDEO found that teams worked better when they arranged seating areas in ways that decentralized the boss. Coworkers had felt isolated from those in other business units, so the designers created room for impromptu gatherings outside common meeting spaces. Everything from functional needs, like toothbrush storage, to features that encouraged cross-pollination of ideas, like a set of shelves where departments could share examples of their work with other units, was taken into account.

The result was both an entirely new headquarters and a reimagining of the company’s existing building, each closely mirroring the renderings and recommendations provided by IDEO. GS Shop employees are now working in the new spaces, ready to field new ideas wherever—and whenever—inspiration strikes.

The lobby at GS Shop

The lobby functions as an area for guests and visitor meetings.