Corporate culture and design: Theoretical reflections on case-studies in the web design industry

DJM van der Voordt, JJ van Meel, F Smulders, S Teurling

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In this paper we present a framework to study the relationship between culture and office design. Different levels of culture are discussed as well as various ways in which culture can be expressed in the physical work environment. The framework is applied to contemporary changes in organisational culture and office design. Offices of progressive companies seem to be dominated by ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ design, colourful materials, luxurious facilities such as gyms or lounge areas and gimmicks such as jukeboxes and pool tables. In this article we try to find out whether these characteristics are the visible expression of a new workplace culture. Should the ‘office-de-luxe’ be interpreted as a hype or are the inhabiting organisations the forerunners of news ways of working? To answer these questions we take a look at the what-is-called dot-com industry. By studying three cases in the web-design industry we try to achieve two goals: 1) a better understanding of the relation between office design and culture,
and 2) exploring new workplace demands and desires. Confronting theory with practice, we observe similarities and contradictions between corporate architecture, identity and culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironments by Design
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • architecture
  • culture
  • identity
  • new economy
  • offices
  • workplaces

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