Goodbye Cubicles, Hello Inspired Collaboration

“Bell is adapting to the way people are living and working now… In a world full of Twitter and email, it’s a luxury to talk to people. These offices allow people to interact face-to-face when they need to.”

– Paola Zamudio, NPZ Style & Decor

The approach to redesign an iconic, one-of-kind and dormant office space can go two ways — preserve it as a relic, a showpiece of the past, or find a way to adapt it for a modern workplace, while giving homage to the past. Designer Paola Zamudio faces that 2 million-square-foot challenge at Bell Works, the former Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ, where she’s seized on one word that defines our emerging work culture – collaboration.

From open floor plans and communal desks, to private office nooks and relaxed lounges, Zamudio, owner of New York based NPZ Syle & Decor, is using designer furniture and careful space planning to recapture the building’s past energy of innovation and make its workspaces a catalyst for the collaborative innovations of the future. Her goal: Transform the six story-space designed by genius Eero Saarinen into a modern, relevant and accessible space for entrepreneurs, startups and established companies.

The building’s scientific legacy is one of profound, though perhaps forgotten, discoveries like cosmic microwave background radiation. Radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser and Information Theory were all credited to scientists working at Bell Labs from 1937 to 1965.  Eight Nobel Prize winners once called Bell Labs home.

A new collaborative coworking space is to be housed in the Bell Works building, is creating an environment that focuses on shared space as a way to foster creativity, productivity, and innovation. Bell Works is a place where entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, and anyone who needs a space to work, can thrive. This creative community is aimed at creative problem solvers, business leaders, and innovative technologists. Studies have shown that people who work in a communal work space feel their work is more meaningful when surrounded by a  group of like-minded individuals.

Bell Work’s mission is to attract startups and entrepreneurs to live and work in the Garden State, making New Jersey a center for innovation and a place where startups thrive. Bell is tapping into the culture around inspired work, and that means bringing together several different industries, such as tech, finance, design and science under one roof.

Zamudio’s passion is curating great spaces within great architecture, and she has ample inspiration at Bell. The neofuturistic space boasts glass windows at every turn, sunlight gleaming across the larger-than-life atrium, opening into six stories of office space that overlook the Big Bang Cafe, and a beta coworking space.

The brand new coworking hubs are meant for entrepreneurs who work on the go. Freelancers, consultants and other nontraditional workers are just as in need of a creative workspace as venture capitalists and CEOs. The space will provide them a place to settle in and get work done. No need to visit several coffee shops or bookstores on rotation to find a space to work outside of the home, where concentration can be easily broken. The space will offer a place where creativity can flow, and organic connections can develop.

The renovation of such an historic building deserved deep thought and planning, with heavy thought about where the building was, and where it’s headed.

“I wanted to keep the history of Bell, but look to the future,” said Paola. “That balance was the inspiration for all the spaces.”

Gone are the days of the traditional office, filled with cubicles and flickering fluorescents. Creativity can thrive in environments of open space, and coworking spaces provide social interaction in a location that sparks originality and imagination in a nontraditional setting. Communication can flow, creativity can surface, and new collaborations and partnerships are born. It’s all about the user experience.

“There are so many offices in New Jersey, but if they’re all cubicles, no one will feel inspired,” Zamudio said.

This new way of thinking is something Zamudio kept in mind when thinking about the design of the space. Ultimately, she chose a collaborative furniture line from the modern design house of the legendary Herman Miller.

“The designers of the collaborative line really did their research before releasing it,” Zamudio said. “They did studies and looked to the future. The entire line has a living office feel, allowing for individual work, yet collaborative work with others.”


 Herman Miller is credited with the invention of the cubicle in 1967, which was a symbol of office work for decades.The cubicle was a revolutionary idea in the 60s. But as the way people work has evolved, so has the design of Herman Miller office furniture. The designers recognized that the way people work was changing, and reinvented and reemerged as an modern icon of industrial design for office space.

Zamudio’s focus in creating these coworking spaces was the people who will be using them.

“In a world full of Twitter and email, it’s a luxury to talk to people,” Zamudio said. “These offices allow people to interact face-to-face when they need to.”

The spaces are full of long, communal tables that encourage conversation and ideas; modern desks for those who want something more stable; open space for mingling and the proverbial “water cooler catchup,” and lounge furniture overlooking the impressive Bell grounds for comfortable conferences and meetings.

“It’s definitely a more relaxed vibe,” Zamudio said. “It’s home, but not at home. The spaces have a living room feel that allow people to work with each other, talk with each other and support each other.”

There’s a real humanity to the Herman Miller pieces. It’s all about the people and the interactions, not the desk or the chair. It’s about what can come out of being in a comfortable environment that fosters creativity and innovation. It’s inspiration.

“I get my inspiration from Bell Works — the building, its history, the people” Zamudio said. “That’s why it’s such a great fit for the Herman Miller living office collection. Bell is adapting to the way people are living and working now, and the furniture was made for this new way of working.”

Bell Works has created an urban experience in suburbia. The multi-use community is designed for commercial use, perfect for startups and entrepreneurs. The space produces inspiration, innovation, and creation at every turn. For information about booking the space for photography or events, visit

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