CARAVAN: transforming corporate restaurants into collaborative workplaces

Sneak Peek | 7 March, 2018

Studio Banana Caravan Opening

After a year of hard work, we have launched the first 3 pilot spaces of CARAVAN, a revolutionary project developed by Studio Banana together with PopupOffice for SV Group with the collaboration of Swisscom in the center of Zürich

Open innovation, multidisciplinarity and the potential of piloting

It all started a year ago, when SV Group –the Swiss leader in the corporate restaurant industry, with more than 300 locations and serving daily 160,000 meals– identified a recurring problem at the core of their service that needed to be solved. Their well-liked restaurants, mainly located within corporate spaces, were not used efficiently enough, especially during off-peak hours. In order to find a suitable solution, they approached PopupOffice and Studio Banana with a single request: to rethink their catering spaces and plan alternative experiences that would provide additional value to their clients. So we immersed ourselves in fluid and user-centered design process. It goes without saying that any satisfactory solution needed to be aligned with SV’s core mission, that is, to achieve excellency as a workspace wellbeing service provider.


In order to address all the complexities of this challenging project, we applied a design thinking and human centric approach to come up with meaningful solutions that would drive impact both to SV Group and to the end users of their restaurants. After fully comprehending the workspace catering context and conducting a thorough and tailored research –consisting on interviews, workshops and site visits– we develop a set of ideas to design viable prototypes to be implemented at SV workplace restaurants. These prototypes would later be tested and fine-tuned on site, in the actual restaurant environment, with real users.


The successful opening of the 3 pilots last Wednesday in Zürich –two at Swisscom sites (Müllerstrasse and P51) and the other in SPIGA Ristorante– is the living proof that this multilayered project could not have gotten off to a better start. In the next few months we will be introducing incremental features to the pilot tests and monitoring the impact they bring to user satisfaction, turnover rates, business, quality of coworking sessions, etc.

Eat, work, meet: CARAVAN Coworking Café

The CARAVAN Coworking Café is anchored right in the fast growing business of servicing collaborative workspaces. An exciting new world that opens up multiple possibilities for companies willing to use their office infrastructure more efficiently, reducing their costs while adding value to their employees, supporting internal collaboration while fostering interaction with the outside world.


With all this in mind, the first condition of CARAVAN was clear: the new space should become an integral part of the overall workflow, resulting more in a workplace to eat than in a foodcourt to work. This wide-ranging project has put all Studio Banana’s team to the test. And we have responded with remarkable strength and agility. In addition to our service design and workplace design capabilities, we have also applied our competencies in branding, print, digital, packaging, audiovisual storytelling and marketing design.


The spatial intervention is enriched with solutions aimed at improving the final user experience such as flat rate coffee, reliable one-click WiFi, flexible furniture, the simplification of the payment experience, the creation of a variety of atmospheres and zones adapted to different functional needs and even the launch of a new product line of healthy snacks: CARAVAN Bites. And last but not least, the incorporation of a welcoming community manager –thanks, Stefan!–, a much needed familiar face who embodies the corporate culture and values. All to facilitate the environment and make the working experience more pleasant and efficient.

Digital transformation, emerging user experience patterns and the rise of holacracy

The CARAVAN Coworking Café is meant to become the center of gravity of the workplace community, where people meet and gather to share ideas across hierarchies. It is the place where the company can show a higher degree of transparency and also create a layer of interaction between the inside and the outside. A space that conveys a sense of openness and humanness. Sounds a lot like holacracy, right?


This is where Jonas Vonlanthen and his stimulating keynote to the attentive audience at the CARAVAN launching event comes in. The partner at digital agency Liip unveiled the secrets and techniques of holacracy, a method of decentralized management and organizational governance much in vogue these days. And for a reason. In an exciting moment where the wonders of technology are almost everywhere, organizations should evolve and blossom with them, leaving behind obsolete methods dating back from the industrial revolution. Holacracy is based on trust and versatility. It has the power to manage growth and bring structure and discipline to a peer-to-peer workplace. It is autocratic and it is fast.


The digital tsunami that has taken our world by storm is having an absolute and undeniable effect on our day to day lives, shaking up almost every aspect of them, both as individual beings and social animals. And naturally, this behavioural reshaping is especially poignant on the workplace field. Modern workforce is becoming more mobile and independent from a fixed working environment, that is experiencing a radical and unstoppable transformation. There are many questions that can and should be addressed within this scenario of transformation and wonder.

* Photography: Rubén P. Bescos for STUDIO BANANA.

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