Lulu Raghavan
Sep 12, 2013

Lulu Raghavan’s blog: Is your office kitchen a source of inspiration and creativity?

It could be, argues the author, with some compelling examples

Lulu Raghavan’s blog: Is your office kitchen a source of inspiration and creativity?

Smart companies are using food as a strategic tool to keep employees happy, creative and productive. And not just free food that Silicon Valley start-ups are famous for but open kitchens, organic rooftop gardens, communal tables and beer brewing!

A recent blog post by Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo, is titled “Why kitchens are better than conference rooms.” Tim shares how food is a central part of Ideo’s creative culture. Meetings happen at communal tables instead of conference rooms. They host weekly tea times in which designers pair up with their mentors to cook up something delicious to share with the entire office. Employees are encouraged to visit the kitchen as much as possible to bond, to energise or to just take a break.

Wolf Olins, another design firm, has gone one step further than a rooftop garden. They founded The Honey Club, a social enterprise dedicated to saving the honeybee. They not only have honeybees buzzing on their roof that help them produce organic honey (which is beautifully packaged and sold!), but they also host honey-related events for the local community. Their case study talks about the immense positive benefits this initiative has had on their organisation.

The kitchen as the heart of your office is a wonderful concept to embrace, especially for agencies whose lifeblood is creativity. The value of having a central inspiring place where employees can gather, bond, create something and importantly, nourish themselves seems immense.

Just as the trend now in home design is to have everything centred around the kitchen, so too in office space design. Progressive companies are actually forgoing other spaces within the office to priortise the kitchen and have as large a kitchen as possible. ZephrynLasker is the CEO of Pontiflex, a mobile advertising start-up in Brooklyn, New York, who has invested in a very large kitchen with a long counter used for daily meetings.He’s one of many who believe that the ROI on the kitchen is tremendous (

What if you got rid of your canteen and used that space instead to set up a kitchen with a well stocked pantry that employees were free to use whenever to cook whatever their hearts desired at that moment? Can you imagine the creative potential (and the smiles) of your team that you would be unlocking in one smart move? It would fit right in with what’s trending too; just look around at the growth in food TV, cooking magazines, cooking competitions and food blogs. Everyone wants to be a Masterchef. How fun it would be to take a break at work to whip up your favourite pasta in return for your team mate’s help on a difficult problem you are trying to solve? Or maybe you’re feeling generous and want to bake a tray of cookies for the entire team? What if there was a competition every Friday for the most interesting salad, the meanest curry, the healthiest pizza or the most creatively designed cupcake? The possibilities to delight your employees – and empower them to delight themselves - are just endless.

So what do you think of this? Does your office already have a fabulous kitchen that is a (Dutch) oven of activity? What role does food play in your company’s culture?

(Lulu Raghavan is the managing director at Landor Associates, Mumbai. When she's not obsessing about branding she is either cooking up a storm, checking out a new restaurant or traveling somewhere exotic. Follow her other adventures at


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