Last week, Motorola invited media to see its new headquarters in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, an iconic building in the heart of the city that spans two full city blocks. The move downtown comes at a unique time for this company: it's in the midst of being sold from Google to Lenovo. And at the same time, it's trying to break into a new product category with the stunning Moto 360 smartwatch that's expected to launch this summer.
Motorola's chief designer Jim Wicks spent time with us going over the new facility and what it means for him and his team — and he also gave us a glimpse of the 360, which could be the most beautiful smartwatch yet when it comes to market. Having Lenovo's backing should help weather the uphill battle that Motorola continues to face against Apple and Samsung, but a well-timed launch of this watch could vault the company to another level altogether.
Here's the new Motorola in pictures.
Photos by Ryan Lowry
- Each stairwell in the building is color-coded with fluorescent lights to remind you of what section you're in.
- In addition to the unique color coding, Motorola's stairwells are also lined with graffiti that it had commissioned.
- In one of the kitchens, a wall of LED signage is laid out to mimic Chicago's subway system. Real-time information on each train line is piped into the signs.
- A table radio designed by Jim Wicks during his stint at Sony.
- Design chief Jim Wicks shows off the model lab, dotted with industrial prototyping equipment.
- Rear covers for phones being 3D printed. Motorola is able to print virtually any design imaginable — even woodgrain.
- Wicks gestures in another room of prototyping equipment.
- Engineers in Motorola's Consumer Experience Design (CXD) lab wear throwback labcoats bearing logos from the 1940s.
- Just some of the miscellany Motorola has printed with its prototyping equipment.
- Dozens of prototype Moto X covers are stored in a drawer in the CXD lab.
- One of Motorola's many testing rooms: an imposing, two-story space that's impenetrable by radio signals.
- A wall of rearrangeable faces, one of the more lighthearted features of Motorola's new headquarters.
- The space is dotted with small kitchens that serve snacks and drinks to employees at no charge.
- A colorful mannequin, a feature of Motorola's old suburban headquarters, made the move to Chicago.
- There's no shortage of color in these offices.
- A kiosk in Motorola's reception area lets users design a Moto X.
- The exterior of the massive Merchandise Mart.