As part of their commitment to centering their culture and content around their stores, lululemon calls all of their offices—including their Vancouver HQ—Store Support Centers (SSC’s). PLASTARC has been working with lululemon to support workplace transformation in both their Vancouver and Seattle SSC’s. In Vancouver, we are serving as 'workplace psychologist', conducting both pre-design research and change communications. In Seattle, we have been supporting their change to Activity-Based Working.
It has been an honor to work with such a creative and conscientious group, and we were glad to join them to celebrate the completion of renovations at the Seattle SSC. Sandwiched between OMA’s striking Seattle Central Library and the waterfront, it sits in the heart of downtown Seattle. The project was led by Clive Wilkinson Architects, who our founder first collaborated with on the new headquarters for J. Walter Thompson back in 2004. CWA also designed the world’s first full-building Activity-Based Working environment at One Shelly Street in Sydney.
Arriving at the opening event, we were greeted by large graphic print on the wall: "The world moves so fast. Do it now, do it now, do it now." Guests were being welcomed with motivational messages: “You are important. Yes, you.” Mannequins on either side of the entrance were dressed in lululemon attire. Two staff members greeted arrivals with warm hospitality and raffle tickets. A DJ, hors d’oeuvre, drinks, purple ambiance lighting, and beautiful flower bouquets lent a festive atmosphere. There was also visit from special guest Blitz, the mascot of the Seattle Seahawks, and two of the team’s Sea Gals—one of whom works at the Seattle SSC. Julie Averill, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, welcomed the crowd, along with Carrie Larsen, Director of Technology Business Operations.
They certainly know how to throw a party, but the real highlight was seeing how they put wellness-oriented values into practice. At PLASTARC, we’re fans of Activity-Based Working and other efforts to make physical activity part of the work day, so it was encouraging to see that CWA designed lululemon’s new space around movement and flexibility. A walkway hugs the core of the office, separating bookable meeting spaces from open work points. These open work points are not assigned; rather, they are available to any staff member. Throughout the day, people can move to whatever space best suits them for the activity at hand. Furniture can be rearranged to accommodate collaborative or individual tasks—since this was a party, the room was configured for games of ping-pong and bean bag toss, naturally. On a normal day, the floor is often cleared for yoga classes near windows that overlook the water, providing mood-boosting daylight in addition to exercise. In a playful reference to their focus on yoga, the signs directing people to the restroom point with toes instead of arrows. In the restroom—which is often overlooked as an important part of the work experience—a basket filled with sweat-related natural sprays is provided, including shoe spray and spray deodorant. After all, sweat is a regular part of the lululemon life.
Design is not the only way lululemon puts their values into practice. During the festivities, the team announced Yoga Behind Bars as this year’s recipient of Seattle SSC’s Here to Be grant. Here to Be is the company's social impact program that creates access to yoga and meditation as tools for real change in people and communities.Yoga Behind Bars provides weekly yoga classes to people who are incarcerated.
It was a great night. On the way out the door, a final message on the wall: "Imperfect is perfect. Breathe deeply."