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HIMACS: Microsoft Briefing Center

HIMACS used in interactive showroom

Pure product presentation in the showroom was yesterday. Today communication is the magic word for modern product performance that involves and enthuses the customers. It stands to reason that a corporation such as Microsoft is progressive in this area too, and this is impressively demonstrated by the new Microsoft Briefing Center in Wallisellen, Switzerland. The presentation content is not merely exhibited here but rather – with the help of in-house Microsoft technology such as KINECT, X-BOX, SURFACE, etc. – it also enters into interactive dialog with the customers whose physical movements control the software, turning them into an active part of what is going on.

New presentation concepts of this kind cannot be achieved with conventional design and the old, familiar materials. There is demand for creative thinkers who understand how to integrate forward-looking materials into their designs. The architects from the interdisciplinary design team at Stuttgart-based COASToffice, for example, have discovered HIMACS as their material of choice and, in keeping with the HIMACS slogan, “The New Generation. Inspired by Architecture”, have created refreshingly new spaces that are extraordinary in terms of both function and design.

Thanks to its versatility HIMACS is virtually predestined for new challenges like the design of a dynamic, technological space such as was required in Wallisellen. The acrylic stone’s specific material properties make it shapeable, rendering it ideal for three-dimensional design. The tactile qualities of HIMACS’s pliable, smooth surface are no obstacle to its use in rooms with high footfall: The non-porous, watertight and low-maintenance material is also extremely robust.

The new Microsoft Briefing Center is on the first floor of the Microsoft Schweiz GmbH head office. The so-called “Product Lounge” at the front, and two conference and presentation rooms of different sizes to the rear, are arranged around a spacious courtyard.


At the heart of the Product Lounge is a sculptural piece of furniture made of HIMACS – for lounge purposes and communication – that is broken down into various zones over an area of around 100 square meters. Both the “Microsoft Kinect Welcome Zone” and the “Microsoft Surface Bar” use touch and motion sensor technology to enable multifaceted interaction between the media screens and the customer.


The design of the central counter and lounge piece is based on the idea of seamlessly dovetailing communication forms – and HIMACS proved to be precisely the right material for realising this cloud thinking: this translucent, solid surface material can be used to model and fit together energy-laden, vibrant shapes.


The result is furnishing elements that seem to have been poured from a mould – seamless, homogeneous and extraordinary.

When it comes to high-end design, the choice of colour is also crucial. In order to produce contrasts without being overwhelmed by colour, the table surfaces of the otherwise white interior sculpture were fitted with thin black layers of HIMACS. They provide an impressive example of the filigree results that can be produced with this material and help to give proportion to the quite large, two-section lounge piece.


Different communication scenarios are possible at the curving counters: A product presentation can be given, standing up or sitting down, or one can move from group presentation to one-on-one dialog immediately. The flowing transition between standing conversation and hands-on seated presentation makes it easy for the Microsoft advisor team to respond individually to different customers, products, group sizes or types of presentation. The media and technology integrated into the piece of furniture form the basis for this kind of direct product presentation.

Apart from information racks, the surrounding black glass wall also has other uses such as cloakroom, tea galley, catering and storage space. In addition the flat, black surface is used as a projection screen. Graphic patterns have been affixed to the glass walls to provide privacy screens – especially important for the room-dividing elements of the conference rooms. As decorations, however, they also transport the design thematic of reflection and absorption, breaking apart and coming together. Sensual atmosphere and cutting-edge technology enter into a highly effective symbiosis at the Microsoft Briefing Center.

Microsoft Briefing Center has been nominated for the “German Design Award 2015” in the category “excellent communication design” and for the Icon Awards 2015.

Location Microsoft Briefing Center, Switzerland
Architecture & Design COASToffice architecture
Material used HIMACS, S22 Black
Photo Credit ©David Franck Photography
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