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GCUC Radio Episode 21 – Coworking Design

Tony Bacigalupo interviewed Larissa Murphy of Contrast Global, a design consultancy based in Singapore.

About Larissa Murphy

Larissa trained as a architect but was shocked when she found that architecture was not the dream she thought it would be.  She ended up leaving the world of architecture and quickly moved into workplace design. Workplace design is complex because you are designing for an end user.  Larissa was fascinated by the complexity of designing to fit one’s personality and creating a space that supports them while they work. She has been working in the industry for the past 20 years and is still just as passionate and excited about it.

Coworking Design

The workplace has evolved over the years.  There has been significant growth in coworking.  Larissa felt that large corporates were losing their way in terms of what they are providing.  So, she engages in a significant engagement process with employees on a one to one level before designing the workplace.  This gives a better starting point to understand a business, its people, and their real needs — which are often not aligned with what management thinks.

Coworking operators genuinely try to create spaces that appeal to their members and create community.  Coworking addresses the basic human need for interaction. Operators really understand that which is what excites Larissa about creating coworking spaces.  It is where her passion now lies.

For coworking spaces that emphasize community building, food is an important way of bringing people together.  Creating spaces where people can sit and eat together is important but often overlooked. You can tell when a space has continued their design throughout versus when they add in amenities as an afterthought.

Helpful Hints

Avoid Corridors

  • Try to make every space big enough for it to have a function.
  • It makes the space more efficient without corridors.  Corridors are dead space.

Natural Light and Acoustics

  • Good quality natural light is important.
  • It often goes unnoticed, but everybody needs a different level of lighting to operate.
  • Pay attention to artificial light levels.
  • These are two of the most overlooked things that have the biggest impact on ambience.


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