Ralph Zucker, the visionary behind the Bell Labs metroburb, recently named its interior designer Paola Zamudio as Creative Director for the entire Bell Works project.
Zamudio’s charge is to use her formidable talent and expertise in design to help create a cohesive, mutually supportive culture at Bell Works unlike any other.
Which is one reason why she created The DesignLab.
The DesignLab at Bell Works, a new co-working and open collaborative space, officially opened July 13. In a creative collaboration between Kimball and Zamudio, every piece of furniture, specifically, pieces designed by Daniel Korb, was carefully defined to reflect upon today’s and tomorrow’s needs in one of the most exciting locations on the East Coast.
Zamudio, founder of NPZ Style + Decor, felt that the Bell Works community needed a central hub where creatives could share space, encourage, support and motivate one another. And in this space, she sees a community of allies and partners gathering, and through their art, helping to create a culture as unique and inspirational to those in the Bell Works community as the building itself.
“The DesignLab will invite, welcome and support everyone at Bell Works who is a professional creative, people with an interest in how design shapes our minds, hearts and world,” says Zamudio, “and especially those who are working on projects in the building. The Lab is a co-working space where people can design their own schedule for office time, congregate with other designers in a space specifically for them, for people who think about spaces from a particular perspective, such as artists, designers and architects.”
United by Design
In addition to functioning as a more traditional co-working space for independent creatives, The DesignLab is also a place for Bell Works’ community members working on design/build projects to meet, collaborate and celebrate together. Already, Alexander Gorlin, lead architect for Bell Works, uses the space to meet with Paola, and other collaborative partners from IA | Interior Architects, Structure Tone Organization, Mancini Duffy and other firms who are working on different aspects of the building’s renovation.
Zamudio has copies of all the floor plans, samples and created mood boards for all the spaces within Bell Works. Her staff also maintains all records for design-related vendors and potential partners.
Eventually, Zamudio plans to launch a series of design talks that will bring design together with, “other very human interests and connect the dots between design and these other aspects of living, like design and food, and design and music,” she says.
Activities like these — and the addition of a Baldwin semi-concert grand piano into the atrium and inviting anyone to play — are weaving bonds of mutual interest and enthusiasm among tenants and visitors. It an innovation community coming online at Bell Works.
Zamudio is adamant that the human element of design be the center of everything the Lab and the larger community produce.
“We are not creating in a vacuum without a human component,” she said. “Everything we do is about the humans who are here and who will interact with each other inside and because of this building. So, if we take it to another level, this is not just an office but it’s THE office. It’s an experience that people value, the ability to work here — the feeling you have when you’re here.”
This feeling includes a certain awe you can only feel when you stand in the physical presence of the place, but it also includes an ineffable vibe that uses the art of design to provoke a universal human experience — that of appreciating beauty in all its diversity.
Zamudio is deliberate in how she curates design in every aspect of the building’s interior spaces. International designers and manufacturers from companies like Moroso in Italy, Bolon in Sweden, and Maderas Collective in Nicaragua, are represented in offices and common spaces alongside award-winning US designers like Kimball.
Past Meets Future, by Design
Design both unifies and distinguishes people and places. It creates community through shared spaces.
“Creating this new community of people who think and dream bigger and bolder than ever before, that’s part of why I love working at NPZ’s Bell Works office and being part of this,” says Shayna Vrabel, a member of Zamudio’s team. “There’s so much history here, but walk around and you can see the future, too.”
The 2 million square foot building was once a main research hub of the legendary innovation leader, Bell Labs, back when the communications giant was reinventing how people communicate with each other and interact with the world near and far.
Though the landmark structure, easily the size of a small downtown center, is no longer owned by a corporation with a telecom monopoly, the building continues to attract people with the same entrepreneurial, adventuring spirit that was the hallmark of scientists like John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain.
Inside the glass walls and throughout the bustling metroburb, design-inspired professionals are at the heart of a growing community that is still shaping the future of how we work, live and play together.
This new generation of innovators and industry leaders is reaping the benefits of the DesignLab every time they sit down to work, take a short break, or walk outside to enjoy some sunshine.