Skip to main contentIBM Workplace Design


Unity, not uniformity. “A corporation should be like a painting; everything visible should contribute to the correct total statement.” —Eliot Noyes

IBM sites convey an experience that’s uniquely IBM—warm and welcoming, inclusive and diverse, intuitive and familiar.

This resource provides design principles, planning concepts and space types that inform all workplace projects across IBM’s real estate portfolio. We endeavor to create a workplace experience for employees, clients and guests that facilitates productivity and collaboration, inspires curiosity and creativity, and embodies IBM’s brand and culture.

IBM Design Language

IBM Design Language distinguishes every experience we make. It delivers clear criteria for the conception, creativity and craftsmanship the IBM brand deserves. Through purposeful composition of our environments, architecture, identity and space planning, every IBM facility is a powerful opportunity to engage people with our brand and culture.

While focused on the workplace design discipline, these guidelines are derived from the broader IBM Design Language. Refer to it for our core principles, design philosophy and brand elements, such as typography, color palette, identity and more. Certain elements of our toolkit are designed to be flexible to suit the needs of a project’s requirements and location or the end user.

The IBM Design Language doesn’t aim to limit or constrict workplace design, but to enhance it in every way. By providing a common language and lexicon, we can unify our facilities around the world while providing unique opportunities for localization to celebrate our diversity. Learn more about IBM Design Language.

IBM Workplace Design

The design of our workplace environments is interdisciplinary, bringing together many facets of design, including interior architecture, space planning, materials and finishes, brand expression, and signage. While each of these dimensions requires a unique skill set, all of them can be unified through a common philosophy. Each section of these guidelines is designed to provide creative direction for various aspects of a project.

Design characteristics

IBM has a rich legacy of design across many disciplines—from industrial design to architecture. Design characteristics are the elements of a space that make our environments instantly recognizable as IBM. These characteristics are derived from our design language and serve to reinforce our brand within the built environment. We invite our design partners to explore how our design character can be reflected regionally around the world. Learn more about design characteristics.

Interior architecture

The interior architecture and design of IBM environments must deliver a cohesive experience. Our design philosophy and characteristics can inform creative decision-making across all dimensions of the design process—from furniture selection to finish palette. This guidance provides a framework so that our brand character isn’t just seen—but also felt in all our environments. Collectively, both overt and subtle design choices create the connective tissue that supports our culture and community.

Planning and space types

We build activity-based workplaces that are the platform for the next century of innovative ideas. Every IBM employee, client and guest should feel welcomed, guided and included from the moment they arrive.

All IBM work environments are comprised of a series of defined space types. These zones have been created to provide a consistent workplace experience for any IBM employee or client around the world.

Additionally, the design of these zones is infused with the IBM Design Language and philosophy. This framework applies to not only brand identity and signage, but also underlies a cohesive approach to interior design, fixtures, furniture, finishes and architecture.

Brand expression

The IBM brand can manifest in the built environment through exciting and provocative applications. Opportunities for brand expression can be overt, such as signage and environmental graphics, or subtle, such as choices in material and pattern. Collectively, all these elements create a differentiated experience for our environments.

It’s critical that we brand our environments with timeless symbols of our identity and culture. Unlike marketing campaigns, these motifs are enduring elements that will stay relevant as our products and services evolve. Avoid using advertising or other campaign media that can make our spaces feel outdated over time. Learn more about brand expression.

Roles and responsibilities

IBM Global Real Estate

IBM Global Real Estate manages our worldwide real estate portfolio, which is comprised of a mix of office, data center, manufacturing, development and lab space. We manage a range of real estate disciplines, including strategy, space management, workplace design, engineering and construction, leasing, real estate acquisitions and dispositions, business acquisitions, integration and divestitures, facility operations, and environmental and energy management.

This site is a resource for IBM Global Real Estate leaders who are responsible for design delivery and execution of projects worldwide. A team of strategists, architects, project managers, and engineering, construction and operations experts build and manage the workplace environments. The workplace experience team manages all touchpoints with employees and the workplace.

We provide direction and management for all real estate construction projects, including:

  • Planning and development of the workplace
  • Design and construction management
  • Managing architects and engineering consultants
  • Infrastructure and technology design
  • Sustainability and wellness reviews

Start here to collaborate with the IBM Global Real Estate team.

IBM Blue Studio

The IBM Blue Studio is responsible for ensuring appropriate execution and expression of our core design philosophy and principles across every expression of the IBM brand, including digital, industrial, event and workplace design. The team is comprised of brand strategists, naming experts, graphic designers, industrial designers and architects.

Our brand team provides creative direction for our workplaces globally, working closely with our IBM Global Real Estate colleagues and agency partners to ensure continuity across a variety of workplace formats, locations and sizes. Collaboration with our design partners and real estate colleagues is critical for thoughtful integration of brand identity within the physical environment. This collaboration requires engagement early in the design process to ensure coordination across interior design and environmental elements.

The brand team provides project-specific direction for most major workplace projects and should be engaged throughout project development—including onboarding of external contributors at kickoff, as well as continuing consultation throughout the design process. Collaboration among all teams is essential to successfully deliver the highest-quality workplace experience for our clients and colleagues.

We provide:

  • Initial briefings on IBM brand strategy or the workplace design language for architects and creative agencies
  • Brand design, including brand programming and opportunity mapping, creative development and source files for production
  • Direction, review and approval of brand proposals from external agencies
  • Consultation on feature architectural elements, such as Arrival and Welcome zones, custom patterns and millwork, custom furniture, reception desks, custom artwork, high-profile media installations, environmental graphics, exhibit displays, and signage

To alert our team on new projects and coordinate our participation, send a message to our Slack channel #ibm-brand with a brief description of the project scope and timeline. Be aware that the IBM Workplace Design brand team is small, so contacting us early in your project is the best way to ensure timely project support.

Agency partners

IBM seeks innovative thinking from top talent across the industry. This resource is an active platform, showcasing marquee examples of design excellence. Our design philosophy and principles inspire and facilitate creativity. We look to our agency partners to deliver innovation within the context of our projects. This iterative, co-creative approach challenges all parties to bring their expertise to bear for the achievement and reward of dynamic, high-performance environments.

All branding projects conducted with an approved creative agency should be reviewed by the brand team with adequate time for feedback and adjustments well in advance of stakeholder reviews. When possible, our team should brief the agency at kickoff.