How M Moser and On Running Created a Shanghai Workspace that Embodies the Spirit of Running

Innovative global sportswear brand, On, has recently experienced exponential growth, outpacing its existing workspace. The company sought M Moser’s expertise to reinvent its Shanghai workplace for hosting events, displaying products and enabling collaborative work.

In close collaboration with On’s internal design team, M Moser fully embraced and further refined its visionary ‘Mystical Utopia’ concept. Creating a sense of belonging and mirroring the brand’s unique ethos, the design firm delivered an environment with comfort, efficiency and connection at its core.

At a glance

  1. Elevating staff engagement and sense of belonging by integrating brand with local culture.
  2. Creating a dynamic and efficient workspace to support collaboration and efficiency.
  3. Embracing circularity to align with On’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

When asked to describe the collaborative process between the M Moser and On design teams, including the ways in which the partnership facilitated a unique exchange of expertise and what mechanisms were in place to ensure that both teams could contribute their individual strengths to achieve a cohesive and innovative design outcome, M Moser explained:

‘The design process was characterised by its iterative nature, allowing for continual refinement and improvement based on feedback from both teams and stakeholders. This iterative approach facilitated the testing of ideas, exploration of various solutions, and the flexibility to make adjustments as necessary to achieve the desired outcome. By embracing iteration, the teams were able to navigate complexities, address challenges, and uncover innovative opportunities throughout the design journey. The collaborative process between M Moser and On design teams was characterised by its commitment to leveraging collective expertise, fostering creativity, and embracing flexibility. Through regular collaboration, iterative refinement, and a shared commitment to excellence, the teams were able to co-create a design solution that not only met the project objectives but also exceeded expectations, delivering a truly innovative and cohesive outcome.’

Integrating Shanghai’s energy and brand identity

Every element in this workspace thoughtfully incorporates On’s ethos and celebrates the essence of running. From the product display and experience area to dynamic and adaptable workspaces.

The dominant metallic grey, enhanced with vibrant blues and oranges, creates impactful brand touchpoints. Additionally, M Moser used frosted materials throughout the focus and meeting rooms. This ensures privacy while providing inviting spaces that inspire exploration, all in alignment with the ‘Mystical Utopia’ concept.

Moving away from traditional carpets, M Moser designed innovative flooring and special corridor layouts on the fifth floor to simulate the experience of outdoor running. The walls feature abstract thermal maps, drawing inspiration from staff running photos and artistically embodying the corporate culture.

Furthermore, the space pays homage to Shanghai. Serpentine light strips above the first-floor kitchen and Play Area mimic three famous running routes around the city, capturing its history and vitality.

Creating a vibrant workspace to support operations

Going beyond comfort, On’s Shanghai new workplace is all about creativity and efficiency. The design firm established versatile creative zones to enhance teamwork and productivity. The office features movable whiteboard installations, making the space ideal for both quick, informal brainstorming sessions and more formal, organised meetings. These flexible areas seamlessly adapt from private to collaborative.

To ensure that employees have dedicated spaces for deep concentration, M Moser also introduced seasonally themed focus areas – spring/summer and autumn/winter. Decorated with plants and frosted floral designs on the glass windows, these tranquil spaces support concentration and efficiency while creating a calm, green oasis for staff.

When asked to detail the specific strategies and design choices that were implemented to ensure the interior space not only aligns with but actively reinforces On’s worldwide recognised pillars and how these design elements were strategically chosen and integrated within the workspace to create a tangible manifestation of On’s core values and identity on a global scale, M Moser explained:

‘The choice of materials, colors, and finishes in the interior design strongly influenced the perception of the brand. The design team selected materials and colors that resonated with On’s brand identity. For instance, using the brand’s signature colors or incorporating materials that evoke concepts –  running, speed, lightness, and performance. Given the dynamic nature of the brand, the workspace design prioritised flexibility and adaptability, which includes modular furniture, movable partitions, and multipurpose spaces that can accommodate changing needs and evolving brand initiatives.’

Championing sustainable innovation for a people-first culture

In line with On’s core values of sustainability and human-centricity, the project incorporates eco-friendly materials and recycling initiatives. The use of Swiss-certified wood and repurposed furniture – made from customer-donated garments and shoes – underscores a dedication to circularity. Additionally, the preservation of existing furniture on the first floor during renovations further demonstrates a commitment to minimising waste.

Embracing the people-first philosophy of On, new shower facilities were designed to support weekly group running activities that promote health and wellness.

When asked how the design specifically encapsulate On’s ethos of celebrating the essence of running and how this ethos was realised through tangible design elements within the workspace, detailing how each element contributes to the overarching theme of ‘Mystical Utopia’ and enhances the daily experience of the employees and visitors, M Moser explained:

‘The workspace featured biophilic design elements – living greenery and flowers, natural materials like wood and stone, and ample natural light. These elements brought the essence of nature into the workspace, evoking the feeling of being outdoors. Running is often associated with a connection to nature and the outdoors. By incorporating biophilic design, the workspace celebrates this connection and creates a serene and rejuvenating environment for employees and visitors. The presence of nature-inspired elements fosters a sense of calmness, vitality, and inspiration, aligning with On’s ethos of embracing the natural world. The workspace layout features fluid and dynamic spaces, with curved pathways, organic shapes, and flexible furniture arrangements. These design elements create a sense of movement and flow throughout the environment, mimicking the experience of running. Employees and visitors experience a sense of freedom and agility as they navigate through the workspace. The dynamic layout encourages spontaneous interactions, collaboration, and creativity. Employees and visitors are transported to a ‘Mystical Utopia’ where they can escape the everyday routine and experience moments of inspiration and reflection.’

This versatile and innovative workplace is designed to meet On’s varied needs, offering everything from eye-catching product displays to collaborative areas and dedicated relaxation zones. The layout is as functional as it is innovative, providing a flexible environment that mirrors On’s dynamic ethos and supports its ongoing growth.

Status: Completed

Completion date: 2023

Location: Shanghai

Area: 1,600 sq m / 17,222 sq ft

Photographer: Vitus Lau


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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