Zurich, Switzerland

On, the young, successful running shoe brand, keeps employees on their toes in the company's new headquarters in Zurich: while working environments usually seek to shorten paths, the On team moves around along a central aisle in an office space of over 100 metres. There are no partitions or attributed workspaces. Employees clock up a total distance of two to three kilometres daily in a setting that promotes intercommunication unlike any conventional office layout.

This dynamic environment thrives on emotions and calls for a sense of comfort and well-being – for sofas which are at home in offices and office chairs that are also perfect for the home office. Cross-functionality is part and parcel of Vitra's comprehensive product portfolio, which is why the On office is furnished entirely with Vitra furniture.
Interior architecture
Brunner Mettler Co. / On
Eduardo Perez

"An Office to Help Define the Brand"

Interview with David Allemann and Thilo Alex Brunner

The shoe label On has furnished its new office in Zurich together with Vitra. The start-up company – whose innovative running shoe conquered the world market in the span of a few years – implemented an interior concept that conveys an emotional experience of the brand and promotes its team-based culture, similar to a sports team. Freunde von Freunden visited co-founder David Allemann and spoke with him and designer Thilo Alex Brunner about their concept.

What was the specific approach to expanding your office space?

David Allemann: The key question was not how the office would look but how we wanted to build our brand. At On, everything is always on the move and change is always possible. As a young, rapidly expanding sports brand, this concept occupies a central role within the company. We consequently wanted a versatile office that embodies this spirit and can quickly absorb new employees and create a strong team identity. We do not actually consider the space as an office, but rather as an open campus that welcomes guests, athletes and friends and can be easily adapted to our growing number of employees. At the same time it functions like a meeting place, a ‘piazza’ where people come together. It was obvious that the new On campus would help define the brand.

What was the basic idea for the design of the new On office?

Thilo Alex Brunner: The central idea was that it was to have no final layout, no fixed walls and as few enclosed spaces as possible. This means that our entire ‘campus’ is visible from anywhere in the room. Our office combines all these functions in a structured open space, which is divided into individual versatile areas and adapts itself to our needs.

A ‘structured open space’ – can you describe that more precisely?

David Allemann: The front zone features a play area with a long sofa where people can sit and talk, and a kitchen. We often eat lunch here together at a large table. The rear zone is designed as a work area. Employees can sit at large or small Joyn tables, work at standing desks or make use of various niches for small, private meetings, quiet one-to-one conversations and concentrated work. And of course, there is also the gym zone. We are a sports brand and often exercise with friends and colleagues at lunchtime. This comes about naturally and has a tremendous effect on our team spirit.
Product overview