Behind the scenes of Once Upon a Space, creator of workspaces: meeting with Christopher Diot

Les coulisses de Once Upon a Space, créateur d'espaces de travail : rencontre avec Christopher Diot - Quark

Today we invite you to meet Christopher Diot, founder of Once Upon a Space . An innovative company that specializes in the development of offices and the creation of services for employees . Offering a refreshing vision to every project. The team is distinguished by its spirit of innovation and creativity . Rather than simply imitating existing solutions on the market, they delight in designing new and original ideas that meet the specific needs of each client. They firmly believe that creativity is the key to creating unique workspaces that reflect their clients' identity.

Through this interview, Quark invites you to discover the Once Upon a Space adventure, this new inspiring and promising concept . Christopher Diot answers Quark's questions about the genesis of his concept. Discover his way of seeing the world of work of tomorrow!

Discovering Once Upon a Space

Once Upon a Space offers companies to design their workspaces. But also to imagine the services associated with the employees of a structure. In addition to the layout, our goal is to offer companies an in-depth reflection on the experience of employees . Thus, we approach projects holistically. By taking into consideration all the aspects that surround the life of an employee in the company . For us, services are as important an element of an employee's daily life as the space itself.

Our approach is to design , find the right service providers and launch the new service. We organize a watch to make sure that everything goes perfectly.

Explore once upon a space

Defining a workspace

It is true that we are dealing here with the notion of workspace and we focus mainly on offices. But it's important to note that the workspace encompasses much more than that these days . The evolution due to Covid is significant. And I believe that will continue to evolve further.

In my view, the workspace refers specifically, in our activity, to the places where the employees of a company can settle to work. For our part, we mainly focus on physical workspaces , such as offices of course. Or the coworking spaces made available to them. We're not going to explore other areas yet, but I think eventually the workspace can be anywhere . He is omnipresent.

A workspace is much larger than you think. It can be any place you can land . I even want to tell you, at the station or at the airport, it can be a workspace. A café, a library, even the train is a workspace in a way.

Can you share your ideal setup with us?

Ideally, I like scalable workspaces. I discovered a very interesting concept at Vitra . This involves dividing the workspaces into three distinct parts. First of all, there is a first part dedicated to a public sharing space , accessible even to people outside the company. Then there's a semi-public area featuring collaboration spaces . And finally, there is a third area reserved for individual offices . This is where we find the call booths and other more confidential spaces for discussion. This area is less accessible to visitors and outsiders.

A concept inspired by town planning: the village square

A few years ago, I discovered the concept of the quarter-hour city. A personal interpretation resulted from this, the village square, it really comes close to the basic concept. But I found the analogy more human and I tried to think of an arrangement around this principle. The village square is a central space for exchange, open to all employees of a company . This is where the main services, sharing areas , conference spaces , even open coworking spaces are located. There is always something to do and people to meet.

Then from the square, we distribute access to neighborhoods. These are places dedicated to the teams . They adapt in terms of size, just as the districts of a city can evolve. Each district has its own identity depending on the teams working there. These districts are then surrounded by smaller and less important services than the central district, which promotes exchanges between neighboring districts.

The workspace is today, more than ever, a place where you can come to exchange, share, feel the DNA of the company but also where you must be able to meet with your team without to be drowned in a huge open space.

Huge workspace

What do companies need to provide a pleasant working environment for their employees?

If one tries to make the connection with the previous question, it will depend on the availability of space within the company. This represents an opportunity for companies to offer and create services that are not accessible in the daily lives of their employees. Whether due to constraints related to limited personal space or the lack of possibility to access facilities such as a conference room, a music room or an extensive library.

It is important to also offer elements that fit into the professional context . The office is not Disneyland, I also go there to access essential business needs (equipment, technologies, etc.) it is also an aspect that helps to arouse interest in going to the office .

It is also necessary to think of the spaces in a comfortable way , the use of quality furniture , which not everyone has in their home. I have worked in several tech companies and for example I know that it is difficult to reproduce at home all the comfort of an audio mixing room.

How to reconcile pleasure spaces in a workplace

I think that at each scale, at each budget, it is possible to offer cool spaces. For example, it is possible to create a meeting room with a console , we work there but at noon or in the evening we play there and the decoration can be centered around that. Better quality catering spaces without the need for a lot of space thanks to a connected fridge supplied daily, etc. Not all companies have the space and the budget to immediately switch to an immersive space with virtual headphones, audio, atmosphere, etc I also think that we do not come to the office to lock ourselves in a virtual universe individually.

On the other hand, it is possible to create a space where we can share content, books, art. We can exhibit paintings and invite artists on an ad hoc basis. These are things that you can do within a company, but which are not accessible when you are alone at home. I have seen many companies invite inspiring people for conferences in front of the teams, it is a way to create the event and punctuate the comings to the office.

How can modularity be a solution for companies?

Our objective is to offer teams a pleasant working environment, modularity thus offers the possibility for employees to appropriate the space and create their own playgrounds . They can customize and adapt them to their needs . Modularity is most often applied to collaborative spaces, but it can also be used to modulate individual spaces by integrating elements that isolate noise, for example. Meta recently deployed acoustic partitions allowing everyone to create their own work bubble . This is of course an architectural choice motivated by the need to protect against noise, but it also cuts off the view for those who need total concentration.

The workspace at GAFAM

We had talked about a layout project at Google . In this one you described movable walls to me. I would like us to mention this again because it is a concept that touches us a lot at Quark.

Indeed, Google has developed a mobile office project where all the furniture, including walls, vases, flowerpots, can move. This approach makes it possible to modulate the workspace according to the needs, the sequences of a project, by opening or closing spaces. You can attach a large screen to a wall to isolate a team, but it can be removed when no longer needed providing greater flexibility . Of course, this can pose acoustic problems, but specific solutions can be put in place (fabric coverings, covered furniture, acoustic panels, etc.). The concept of mobile offices makes it possible to create a flexible and open work environment , avoiding locking people into rigid spaces.

A meticulous job

There are also solutions to make spaces hybrid and this type of furniture can incorporate them. Imagine a workspace with a team in Milan and another in Paris. It is essential to have a smooth connection between the two teams. We can use a large screen that can be fixed on a wall to isolate the team without constraining them in a closed space. If this screen is equipped with the technology developed by the company “la vitre” then I could have a direct visual bridge between my space in Milan and Paris. When the collaboration stops we can reopen the space and why not make this “space addon” available to a neighboring team. This avoids siloing people into rigid spaces and promotes flexibility . These mobile blocks can also offer acoustic qualities if we work on coatings and shapes.

I like to make the comparison between workspaces and the world of video games, perhaps due to my past at Ubisoft. When a publisher releases a game, it sets up what are called DLCs (a kind of update with content) to bring new experiences to players and keep the game alive as long as possible. Let's do the same thing for the spaces, let's create agile spaces or the life of the teams and their ways of apprehending the places will allow us to bring new functionalities to the initial layout.

Open space, workspace

Focus on Christopher Diot

What is your favorite workspace at home?

      The dining room table. I have a large table (but a small apartment)!

      How do you keep your focus during a long day at work?

          I try to pace the work. As long as I can stay focused I keep going. Then as soon as I pick up I take a break.

          Do you have a decoration tip to make your office more pleasant?

          The idea is to start with something simple, have light colors . Organize your space and keep the place clean . Very important to have a good base. I will go to Slean to find a good chair, I had the chance to meet and test the products of this company at Ubisoft.

          How do you organize your workspace to stimulate your creativity?

            I am constantly on the move in different places and therefore cannot put into practice for myself everything that I bring to my clients. On the other hand, I have the advantage of changing the air and the place of work. So I see a lot of things and that stimulates me and contributes to my creativity.

            What's the craziest gadget you have in your workspace?

              I have a productive weeks notebook, it's a bullet journal. It's not a gimmick and it's not crazy but it's still quite new. In this notebook I can write down my goals for the week, my plans for the weekend and a tracker to try to put in place certain habits (hello sport!). Regularly I go back to the previous pages to review the progress of a project in detail.

              Focus on Christopher Diot, workspace

              Do you have a song that gives you the motivation to work?

                Yes, it's the Guardians of the Galaxy playlist.

                Hook on the feeling : Björn Skifs There is a version of this song made by David Hasselhoff, the clip is Priceless I recommend if you want to have a good time.

                If you had a desk, what would you add to your workspace?

                  A huge panel to do visual project management

                  Is there a particular color that you like to use in your home decor or workspace?

                    I had a very green phase, I have at home a green created by Farrow and ball in connection with national geographic. At the moment it's more Californian atmosphere with pastel tones.

                    Collection from

                    Collaboration creation of painting

                    What piece of furniture do you prefer in a workspace?

                      I like large shared tables in a team space, more like a high table format. Metal legs with punchy colors. For me lab and Moore are developing great products along these lines, including some in conjunction with companies like Le Pavé.

                      If you could work from anywhere in the world, where would you go?

                        Without hesitation: Montreal, culture, hospitality and for Poutine. Otherwise, Bali culture, hospitality but not for Poutine. I liked the state of mind in these 2 very different countries.

                        In conclusion

                        The evolution of workspaces offers new possibilities to create environments that are more pleasant , flexible and adapted to the needs of teams. The modularity and mobility of the spaces make it possible to personalize and shape the workplaces according to the specific requirements of each project and team. Examples such as Google's mobile offices demonstrate how furniture, walls, and equipment can be moved to open or close spaces based on changing needs. This promotes collaboration , while providing individual spaces protected from noise.

                        Technological and societal advances offer incredible opportunities to imagine new and evolving spaces. The challenge will be to promote collaboration , productivity and the well-being of employees in a world where we are increasingly on the move and where borders are increasingly fine. Companies have the opportunity to offer unique services and environments, adapted to their size and resources while creating attractive workspaces that inspire and stimulate teams. And that Christopher and his team understood it well!

                        I hope this interview has been inspiring for you. Do not hesitate to leave us a comment to let us know your opinion. Your opinion is valuable!

                        See you next week Quarkos

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