This new workspace for car subscription specialist Lynk & Co upends industry rules
Lynk & Co’s new Gothenburg HQ by New Order Arkitektur sets the subscription-based car maker apart from its peers
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It’s instructive to compare and contrast these newly released images of Lynk & Co’s HQ in Gothenburg with Polestar’s recently refurbished Design Studios. Both brands are parented by Chinese auto conglomerate Geely, but whereas Polestar has pushed for a clean, crisp Scandi aesthetic that infuses everything from its typography to its in-car graphics, Lynk & Co had a wilder brief. The company pitches its wares, mostly compact SUVs based on Geely’s flexible platform, at a younger demographic who are more likely to buy – or, more importantly, subscribe to – a car online, rather than from a conventional dealership.
For Lynk & Co, ‘a boring office is out of the question’
This rule-breaking approach is why the company’s new space, shaped by Gothenburg-based New Order Arkitektur, goes so far in the opposite direction. In fact, the Lynk & Co office recalls the heady days of the dotcom boom (versions 1.0 and 2.0), when offices became elaborate polychromatic playgrounds crammed full of wayward design elements to lure in a demanding new breed of worker. Property crashes and pandemics, not to mention the osmotic creep of idiosyncratic office design into the once-staid corporate world, means that this sort of space is no longer very unusual. It is, however, a big departure for the auto industry.
Car makers’ offices are usually environments where personnel and projects ebb and flow with the global economic tides and tired old buildings are the last place on earth to receive any investment. Even the glossiest public-facing companies probably still have a few draughty portacabins stacked out back behind their production facilities.
Although Lynk & Co's commitment to difference might seem a little timid to a generation raised on the idea of the ‘office as a playground’, it’s definitely bold for a car maker. New Order Arkitektur has gone all out to create a greatest hits of quirky work culture, from exposed brutalist concrete staircases and walls to bold splashes of colour on walls and furniture, including alternative icons like Starck’s ‘Attilla’ table for Kartell (its base is a gnome). There are scatterings of Op Art and graffiti-inspired murals, including pieces by Swedish street artist Ekta, as well as a bad-trip boardroom awash with melting smiley faces.
Alain Visser is Lynk & Co’s CEO. The former senior VP of marketing at Volvo, he’s also one of the founders of the company. ‘Lynk & Co is here to disrupt the automotive industry, not to align with it. Having a boring office is out of the question. It needed to be wow,’ he says. ‘If we don’t live and work in a non-conformist fashion, then we’re not truthful to the brand. It’s all about honesty and authenticity. We must stay true to the vision, and it must permeate everything from the offer to the office.’
New Order Arkitektur worked with Lynk’s own designers to make the most of the existing spaces, leaving old surfaces and finishes exposed, as well as recycling office furniture. Visser was adamant that ‘nice-looking’ was not the approach he wanted for his team. ‘We wanted raw,’ he recalls. ‘When they took us to a warehouse to show what a botched concrete floor looked like, we fell in love. For them it was wrong. For us, it was wrong in just the right way.’
New Order Arkitektur, NewOrder.se (opens in new tab)
Lynk & Co, LynkCo.com (opens in new tab)
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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