Slack’s new Californian HQ honours the hiking trail that leads to its Vancouver office

San Francisco – Slack’s greatest value is in its ability to quickly connect work teams via organized chat – no e-mail required. And yet it makes sense that its new Californian HQ references not the everyday indoors but the great outdoors that make up the Pacific Crest Trail. Why? CEO Stewart Butterfield is a devoted hiker, but most importantly, a literal trail of wilderness forms a metaphorical bridge between the San Francisco location and its Vancouver sister office. ‘We thought that was a thematic link too rich to pass up,’ said Studio O+A’s Primo Orpilla.

‘The idea was to suggest not just a variety of topographical and botanical contexts, but to capture, as well, the experiential links between hiking a wilderness trail – and work,’ added Orpilla. That’s why each one of its 10 floors, with its different micro-themes, looks more Patagonia than workspace communication tool.

Floor 2, for example, reference Baja desert’s commonplace cacti; the library on Floor 5 was inspired by the stillness of a mountain lake. Throughout, light installations replicate the topography of natural landmarks, such as Lake Tahoe. The wildnerness cues continue throughout, with materials, finishes and scenic images pointing to forests, glaciers and volcanoes.

But most importantly, just like with outdoor environments, each space turns out to be whatever its users make of it. ‘Hikers and campers know that a favourite trail or campsite is never the same place twice,’ explained the O+A co-founder. ‘So like a natural setting, every floor is equipped to adapt to the changing needs of a single work session or a months-long project.’

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