A brake that got the world moving
There is, they say, no elevator to success; you must climb the stairs. But this is not true. One of the great inventions that helped give birth to modern cities, shaped the city skyline, and changed people's way of life, is precisely the elevator. In particular, the safety brake that prevents the cabin from falling if the hoisting cable breaks. Thanks to this, the American company OTIS has, for over one hundred and seventy years, been a synonym for getting the world moving.
If you point at almost any modern iconic building around the world, there is a high probability bordering on certainty that you will stumble upon OTIS. Whose elevators do you think save your legs from climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Who transports ten million visitors up the Empire State Building every year, and who takes you to the viewpoint of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, in seconds? None other than OTIS.
Because everyone needs movement, whether by elevator, escalators or moving walkways, this multinational company has also found a foothold in Prague. On the sixth floor of the AAA SmíchOFF administrative building with unique architecture and an amazing view of the capital.
An unusual challenge
All interior installation companies look forward to receiving an order that is a bit different. Such an order landed in our in-tray in June 2021 – it was something special. Together with the architects of Penta Real Estate, we managed to construct a space that combines administrative, commercial and social purposes, and also serves as a showroom.
We were privileged to furnish the space with its unusual "Z" floor plan. We worked with non-standard elements and unusual materials in almost every zone. OTIS is constantly coming up with new ideas and innovations in its field. So it's no surprise that it wasn't afraid to go a little against the grain in the concept of its brand new office space. While the trend for huge "open spaces" has been in vogue for many years, the company decided to do it differently.
Although it adhered to the open-plan concept, thanks to a smart and carefully thought-out layout, it ensured privacy for individuals and entire teams. In this way, people can communicate with each other without being disturbed, which supports not only creativity, mutual cooperation and social ties, but above all work productivity.
The perfect interplay
The first room you enter when you visit the company is, of course, the reception. It also functions as a client zone and showroom for elevator accessories. However, don't expect any shocking entrance. The wow effect here comes only as you go deeper into the office. The most important things are initially hidden from view. The architects really did a great job here. The standard of finish and attention to detail is equally high quality. The interior has all the gadgets, and can boldly compete with the most technically demanding projects, and it does. In the design category of "Reception of the Year 2022", it was ranked among the top three.
The aesthetic side of this zone was successfully combined with perfect functionality. It is not a colourful wilderness, but rather simple shapes and colours. The minimalism of the corporate identity is reflected in shades of grey, and distinctive stainless-steel elements evoke the surface of escalators. The ceiling is designed in a metallic black industrial style. Living plants are suspended from the ceiling structure on wires, which greatly enliven and soften the interior.
The multifunctional entrance space has a very airy and clean appearance. One of the few textured items here are the furnishings – upholstered blue coach, round tables, and chairs in a natural wood finish. At first glance, you would never guess what is concealed behind the smooth walls at the back of reception. In fact, these are cabinets with drawers, in which material samples and small accessories are kept. Samples of servers, engines or other electrical equipment are in turn tucked away behind vertical panels, which from the viewing side are decorated with silhouettes, arranged nicely by size, of famous world buildings in which OTIS products are installed.
Snacks in secret
Each section emphasises purity of style and minimalism. Therefore, the modern, spacious kitchen, which is separated from the entrance lobby by a sliding door, is also out of sight. This is not a place where you would come just to make a coffee and leave quickly. On the contrary. The bar counter and comfortable-looking ear cups invite you to sit down with a colleague and take a short break. This place is one of the most colourful in the entire company. Pink bar chairs give the place a homely atmosphere and look very optimistic and comfortable.
While you're relaxing with a cup of coffee, you can watch your colleagues do business just a few steps away in an enclosed mobile meeting room. The entire interior is studded with FlexBoxes, PhoneBoxes and hot desk workplaces in the form of "compartments". Some are glass, others are fully upholstered. In all cases, they are all acoustically damped, so you don't disturb anyone, and no one disturbs you either.
Ingenuity knows no bounds, as the Penta designers demonstrate here over every square centimetre and in every regard. Glass doors, metal screens and connecting corridors are addressed down to the smallest detail. With subtle elegance, a triangle motif is repeated here, almost without you noticing it. When an experienced artist takes the otherwise pointed shape into his hands, he can create an elaborate composition and with the alternation of glossy and matte surfaces, create a pattern that gives the place elegance and flair. The work was all the more beautiful because it drew inspiration from the design of the doors of the first ever commercial elevator, which OTIS installed in 1860 in the New York department store E. V. Haugwout Co., where it served five floors. The elevator, which moved at a speed of 0.20 m/s, was driven by a steam engine, which was located in the basement. It cost around three hundred dollars.
The combination of black and white is evergreen. It suits every proportion. You can also dress walls in it. The result will be a contrasting, yet graceful look. This flawless and aesthetically highly effective combination also suits large-format photos. That is why they are so often used in interior design and are included at OTIS too. Stickers that are many metres long depict everyday life or architecture, and one wall is even dominated by a picture of an elevator.
An original playful feature, which once again highlights the company's heritage and roots, awaits you in one of the meeting rooms. The leg of a table with a partially glazed top comprises an elevator motor itself. It is an element that will constantly attract the attention of newcomers. Male visitors in particular will have trouble diverting their attention from it. In addition to being a huge attraction, this component serves another function. It will lighten the atmosphere of a place where important deals are closed.