A camera crew recently was given access to Sigma’s new headquarters in Kanagawa, Japan which reveals a complex filled with zen-like spaces and a “cellar” of lenses displayed like bottles of fine wine.
With its wide-open design concept, a stairwell encased library, and even a rooftop garden, this pristine four-story building seems designed for maintaining the zen of its employees just as much as for conducting the business of photography. Rich in history, and calming in its design, the new Sigma complex has created an environment in which the company’s unique products and services can be developed while giving its employees a space to relax while doing so.
As shown in a video from Gizmomo Freaks, spotted by L Rumors and DPReview, the very first room that visitors will see when entering the Sigma HQ is a library wrapped around the building’s central hub staircase. With four flights of stairs to wrap around, the library houses a collection of over 4000 photography books and collections, organized by age groups.
“This is the place I use most as an employee,” Sigma representative says, machine translated. “When making a camera, everyone is studying hard. If you don’t know much about photo collections, you won’t be able to make a good (product).”
The building also has conferencing rooms and meeting spaces, designed for housing product announcements, training sessions, and presentations, with chairs that have collapsible desktops much like a student, would have at school. There’s also a secondary stairwell, which is open and has additional furnished spaces for an employee to take a break and decompress, or for small groups to hold smaller sections in the comfort of a living room or den-like space.
The design philosophy here is open spaces, to eliminate any sense of claustrophobia that could make an employee feel like they are trapped. Even the work and assembly rooms are wide open, with supervisor desks and workspaces illuminated by natural light streaming in from large windows that show the forest-rimmed location where Sigma chose to build. The color theme is also wide open with bright white walls and floors, and it seems that there are no corner offices to aspire to climb a corporate ladder. It’s meant to convey a sense of a team concept from the looks of it.
But what is perhaps its most intriguing feature, is a basement lens cellar to showcase samples of every lens, camera, and filter designed and built by Sigma in its illustrious history, making this building just as much a museum as well. The lens and camera collection are mounted to acrylic stands that make them appear to be floating in the air, and are bathed in light from LEDs streaming all around. In fact, this is the only room in the tour that is deliberately darkened except for the illumination of the collection, so that the eye is drawn to the entire history of Sigma’s efforts to create high-performance lenses and cameras.
Lastly, on the top of the building is a rooftop garden, which is again meant to convey a sense of serene calm for employees. With plants, vegetables, and even trees, the garden provides a nice overlooking view of the company grounds and even the nearby mountains. There’s also an atrium, where employees can stroll around on their breaks to get some fresh air.
This impressive complex is normally not available to be visited by the public, so this tour serves as one of the few ways photographers will be able to enjoy what Sigma has created for its staff.