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Shanghai showcase for office design

A cafe-style atmosphere encourages creativity.
Workers can walk in and log on at the Shanghai Creativity Center.
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Shanghai, China (CNN) -- An office furniture company has found a novel way of promoting its products by providing Shanghai workers with state-of-the-art business facilities -- free of charge.

Located in the heart of the Chinese city's business and residential district, the Shanghai Creativity Center offers instant office space, including workstations and meeting facilities, as well as acting as both a working showroom and regional headquarters for Haworth Asia-Pacific.

When it opened in April this year, Haworth vice president Frank Rexach described the Creativity Center as "an interactive laboratory" to "stimulate creativity for ideal work environments."

Walk-in visitors can simply pick up a kit of office supplies, find a workstation and get connected.

"We have a concierge when you come into the facility," says Rexach. "Basically, you just come in and you're, in a sense, able to check-in."

Created in conjunction with international design consultants DEGW and incorporating the ideas of psychologists, sociologists and ergonomists, the Creativity Center is also based on the findings of Haworth's own research into changing work environments around the globe.

Offering a public workspace with casual seating, artwork on the walls and a cafe-style atmosphere, Rexach believes it reflects a growing desire among workers to break away from the confines of more traditional office settings.

"This is really designed as an area reflecting the public space, where more and more people, as you know, are beginning to work outside of the physical office or physical space," he says.

"And they're looking at places where they can congregate, whether it's one-on-one, getting together with a friend or a business associate, to be able to think of new creative ideas or new concepts."

For those who need to meet and talk, or require a degree of privacy, it is possible to reserve another area, described by Rexach as the "privilege space."

"This is an area where you are, in a sense, invited in to use an area that you can begin to collaborate in teams," he says.

Designed for local executives from Shanghai's "Corporate Avenue" and Haworth clients, it offers meeting areas for seminars and training sessions, while portioned areas or portable huts provide the space to brainstorm or negotiate deals.

A movable roof not only maximizes light levels but also minimizes noise interference between different work groups.

"What that's to do is to make you talk softer, so that when you have clusters of these huts in an office, people actually are not having that noise that you get in a traditional office environment," says Rexach.

And while many of the Creativity Center's visitors might not be there to buy Haworth's designs or furniture, they do seem sold on the company's innovative use if space.

-- CNN's Jaime FlorCruz contributed to this report.

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