Yesterday saw the launch of YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group’s tech hub, a new office space in West London’s White City dedicated to revolutionising the tech sector and moving it forward into a very bright future. Yoox & Net a porter merged last year to create one of the biggest luxury fashion companies in the world, combining sales annually of 1.3 billion euros and 29 million monthly unique visitors. Both companies have revolutionised the luxury fashion industry since their birth in 2000, I use both sites often and they really are the pinnacle of ease and enjoyment of online shopping to me.
Yesterday I was invited for breakfast to check out the beautiful new space, designed by Grimshaw Architects. The office is truly jaw dropping. When you walk in you are greeted with an impressive arbour walk that took 9 tonnes of timber to accomplish. The office is a bright an airy 70,000 square foot spanning over two floors. The floors above encircle and look down to ground level, allowing you to see the many meeting spaces and communal spots below. Highlights of brown and green fill the office, with the many wooden staircases, cubby holes and lockers (there’s an entire wall dedicated to hooks for the incoming staffs personal YNAP orders alone). It’s a given that any modern office space is filled with plants but I was blown away by the trees, moss walls and pot plants in every nook and cranny, 2459 in total to be exact!
Most impressive was YNAP’s dedication to getting women more involved in the tech industry. Women make up 50% of the companies executives but within the tech industry itself they are hard to find. By investing in London’s imperial college, particularly in girls between the ages of 8 and 14 to gain and boost digital skills; such as coding, they are creating a diverse talent pool of future innovators. The project is called ‘CodeLab’ and is offered for free to 700 pupils currently.
Part of the tech we saw within the new office space was a focus on AI. Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising the way we shop today already. YNAP has been experimenting with this technology since 2015 to improve customer service and personalising the shopping experience for the customer. Currently they are exploring: virtual fashion stylists, recommending which clothes can compliment which outfit; Visual search engines, allowing customers to upload photos they seen online and YNAPs AI can identify the brand and piece in question; and maybe most importantly a Natural Language Search, so a customer could type in ‘a long red dress in the evening’ and it would understand what they meant.
It’s exactly what you would expect a YOOX NET-A-PORTER office to be, and so much more, the design completely blew me away and made me feel like this really is the future of the working space. Nick Grimshaw said himself that this feels like one of the most human spaces currently around in London, a space that’s good for humanity and where people actually feel like they want to work (I certainly did). We’re moving away from the regimented office idea, creating organic spaces where ideas can happen anywhere and I seriously like where this is heading.