Barbarian Group Superdesk arches

A white resin ribbon cuts a curving path through an office for a digital creative agency, seating all 125 employees and rising into occasional arches filled with storage niches. Finished in a gleaming gloss like a surfboard, the ‘Superdesk‘ eliminates the need for cubicles and creates semi-private spaces for meetings.

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Barbarian Group Superdesk side view

Designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects for New York City-based The Barbarian Group, the structure turns furniture into architecture, complete with roofs, dividing up a large warehouse-like space into smaller and more intimate sections.

Barbarian Group Superdesk meeting space
Barbarian Group Superdesk in use

The arches direct foot traffic through the space, while the continuous design creates a dialogue between different divisions of the company, an effect that architect Wilkinson describes as “making a village within a building.”  Benches and additional tables are built into the rooms-within-rooms created in the areas where the white desk surface is raised.

Barbarian Group Superdesk building process

“The Barbarian Group, a new generation internet advertising agency, required a workspace design that would foster collaboration and transparency in their growing company, and challenge their creativity. They leased a 23,000 SF loft in the New York garment district to house 125-175 Barbarians, which we surgically gutted to create a large open space.”

Barbarian Group Superdesk underneath

“Since conventional office tools are now largely redundant, people simply need flat surfaces to work on and easily accessible places to meet and collaborate. We got excited about the idea of massively simplifying this concept by uniting all employees at a kind of ‘endless table.’ Like an electrical wire, the table surface itself becomes a medium for connecting and centering a community.”

Barbarian Group Superdesk diagram

“They plywood structure rises from the existing oak floor as pony walls supporting the table. Because the movement routes bisect the space, we lifted the table to fly over pathways and maintain surface continuity. The resulting grotto-like spaces underneath the ‘arches’ can accommodate meetings, provide private focused workspace or high counter workspace, and house bookshelves and other storage.”