Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) approached LJC to find and design a new headquarters to help consolidate activities from offices across the country into one space, bringing teams from five product platforms under one roof. As a global company that focuses on raw food materials—cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts, and spices—it was important to create a space that would allow the organization to develop, test, future-proof, and pilot ingredients for their international clients in one centralized location.
After carefully selecting a site that accommodated all functions onto one floor, the LJC design team worked to create two distinct user areas: one that is public-facing, focusing on user experience, and the other that is employee-facing and private, focusing on corporate and office functions.
Upon entry into the customer experience area, visitors are welcomed into a reception area that overlooks a series of working spaces. Two test kitchens flank a central, multifunctional meeting and dining room that features sliding glass doors to allow for client visibility into the kitchens as products are being prepared and presented. Adjacent to the test kitchens are a sensory work room and sensory experience room, where ingredients such as cocoa are placed under various controlled lighting, which has been shown to impact the perception of anticipated taste.
The employee-focused area includes workstations, private offices, hoteling offices, and smaller labs for initial product development. Creating workspaces that would accommodate the current company structure and size, as well as flexibility for future growth, was a primary goal for the layout. The design team focused on creating a design that balanced reflecting the innovative nature of the company’s processes with their brand as a humble organization grounded in their roots, using their tagline, “Make it real.” Across the 10th floor of the Macy’s building in downtown Chicago, the design team took advantage of 12′ windows that provide ample daylight to the users and used acoustical needs within the masonry shell as an aesthetic opportunity to create intimate social zones throughout the office.
The new space has provided OFI an opportunity to redefine its company culture, encouraging cross-platform collaboration and providing transparency in a warm, welcoming, and highly functional environment.