Mix Interiors 219 - March/April 2022

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Issue 219 03 /04 2022

For carpet tiles that make offices more inspiring


With carpet tiles that can mix and match, we make it easy to create inspiring spaces that focus on improving productivity. ivc-commercial.com

Mix Interiors Issue 219 40





Desert Island Desks


Paradoxically Speaking: Going, Going, Green

News and highlights from the world of commercial interior design

Jane Maciver, Creative Director ID at Buckley Gray Yeoman on her castaway essentials

Neil Usher on wanting green versus being green


In conversation with: Daytrip


In conversation with: Kelly Hoppen CBE

We speak to Iwan Halstead and Emily Potter, founders of the studio, about originality and storytelling

The design titan discusses her signature aesthetic and latest project, LUX* Grand Baie


Is hybrid hospitality the future of

the high street?

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on a multifunctional future








PZ Cussons


Inhabit Hotels


The Aubrey, Mandarin Oriental


Positive impact with Ben Channon

A space designed for inclusivity, the Studio Rhonda designed workspace is both deaffriendly and vegan

Creative coworking is the order of play at Fora’s latest colour-filled space

In Manchester, Incognito have designed a multi-brand-inspired workplace for a growing business

A new London hotel exploring what wellness means today and how guests can cultivate it

A luxe new restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hyde Park draws on Japanese design tropes

The Ekkist director and author challenges common misconceptions around creating healthy buildings


Mix Interiors Issue 219 32

Contents cont.


Mix Roundtable

in partnership with


We ask if design is ever good if it doesn’t put people first


Creative thinking with Steve Gale

Why technology could soon be further shaping how we use and even learn from our workspaces


Mix Roundtable

in partnership with

Specialist Group

We chart if safe thinking is the enemy of good design


Mixology22: Meet the judges


The global perspective


Mix Interiors 30 under 30: Call


We introduce our panel of influential industry figures leading this year’s Mixology Awards judging

Saudi Arabia: land of opportunity or just a mirage? The question on every hospitality designer’s lips

for entries

30 under 30 returns as we prepare to celebrate a new class of bright young things – the future leaders of commercial interior design




Property: Flexi-time


Material Matters


The final word

What is the future of commercial flexible workspaces? David Thame explores why an unstable market is sorting the successes from the failures

Maria Cheung, director and head of design at Squire & Partners, on her favourite materials

Mike Walley ponders whether flexible working is really…working

Get in touch Managing editor Harry McKinley harry@mixinteriors.com Deputy Editor Chloé Petersen Snell chloe@mixinteriors.com Managing Director Marcie Incarico marcie@mixinteriors.com Director Leon March leon@mixinteriors.com Business Development Manager Kate Borastero kate@mixinteriors.com Head of Operations Lisa Jackson lisa@mixinteriors.com Designer Tamzin Bell tamzin@tamzinrosedesigns. com Founding publisher Henry Pugh

The Cover Logo

Hassell reimagined a 3D pattern language by overlapping and overlaying the product, reminiscent of how we lay out sample and product on our studio tables throughout a design process. This speaks to the geometric shapes within the pattern while also creating a whole new pattern. The Mix logo is designed as a cut out, revealing the layer beneath showing the build-up of different layered surfaces. www.hassellstudio.com


Cover Image

Contour by IVC Commercial applies the principles of architectural geometry to carpet tile design. With the biomorphic Perspective expressing the structural integrity of nature and View, intersecting lines exploring the relationship between architecture and geometry; this carpet tile collection takes office interiors on a journey through principal architectural forms. www.ivc-commercial.com

Steve Gale, David Thame Tina Norden, Mike Walley, Neil Usher Address Unit 2 Abito, 85 Greengate, Manchester M3 7NA Telephone 0161 519 4850 Email editorial@mixinteriors.com Website www.mixinteriors.com Twitter @mixinteriors Instagram @mix.interiors LinkedIn Mix Interiors

Subscribe to Mix

To ensure that a regular copy of Mix Interiors reaches you or to request back issues, call 0161 519 4850 or email lisa@mixinteriors.com Annual Subscription Charges UK single 45.50, Europe 135 (airmail), Outside Europe 165 (airmail)


Printed by S&G Print ISSN 1757-2371

Mix Interiors / Issue 219


In one of our recent Mix Roundtables we discussed change: rapid seismic change, incremental change and even subtle but wide-reaching change. We’re living, of course, in an age of all three and while we’re all learning that change can be challenging, it’s also the engine for innovation, creativity and progress. In short, all the good stuff. Change has visited itself upon Mix too, not least in my own role as the new managing editor. Having worked in publishing and across the design industries for over a decade, it’s likely some of you will know me, though many of you won’t. But to turn an old cliché on its head: it’s not me, it’s you. By which I mean, Mix exists as a vehicle for the design community and that’s one thing that will remain constant. We’ll continue to spotlight the most imaginative projects, highlight the most influential figures and provide a platform for the most thought-provoking talking points. In this issue, that means looking at a pioneering vegan and deaf-friendly workspace; speaking to titan of interior design Kelly Hoppen about her aesthetic and latest Mauritian hotel project; and asking, is remote working actually working? I know, from Mix, you’ve come to expect conversations that speak to the realities of the commercial interior design sector and an emphasis on projects that are as relevant as they are inspirational. So while our purpose remains the same, I know that you would also expect us to adapt to a changing industry and a changed world, in the way in which we tell those real stories and in how we curate the truly relevant. Today, that means diverse voices tackling demanding topics and a broader spread of projects that, by necessity, are designed for new ways of doing things. It also means giving space to the issues that matter most, such as with our newly recurring, sustainability-centric Positive Impact feature – this issue featuring Ekkist director and author, Ben Channon. So nothing seismic then, but subtle and incremental, yes. Because here we know that change is nothing to be afraid of and what is Mix, if not all the good stuff? Harry McKinley Managing Editor









Future Proof

As one of the first major workspaces designed, delivered and occupied in the post-Covid age, tp bennett has conceived a new template for the future of workplace for Pearson. Looking at the brand’s shifting identity – from a traditional publisher to a digital media learning company – tp bennett has ignited the role of the workspace for a ‘technology first’ future. Situated across a single floor within the Grade II listed art deco building Eighty Strand, tp bennett designed the company’s newly renovated 30,000 sq ft office space as a destination for collaboration, both within Pearson’s own organisation and to showcase the brand when hosting customers, clients and other company stakeholders. The office provides 700 work spaces – with less than


80 of those as traditional sit-stand ‘desks’. Event space, meeting rooms and hot-desking facilities, alongside an ‘innovation hub’ and town hall-style café, offer employees a choice of workspace to create an ‘activitytype’ focus, that puts learning and knowledge-sharing at the heart of employee culture. In undertaking the project within the existing building, tp bennett executed a deep refurbishment of the internal space, re-exposing the original structural steel frame that had been hidden by previous works. Furniture elements are adaptable, developed as a ‘kit of parts’ that allows the internal layout to be easily adapted to future needs. tpbennett.com

MOV:E your lim it s


Taking freedom to a new dimension Experience mobility and flexibility in a completely new dimension. BACHMANN MOV:E enables mobile and free working – for groups and individuals alike. Move your limits with the extra strong MOV:E XXL energy store!

Showroom 45 St. John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4AN sales-uk@bachmann.com 020 3998 1821 www.bachmann.com/en


Better Together

TOG (The Office Group) and Fora have announced a merger, bringing together two highly complementary businesses with similar cultures and high quality, design-led workspaces. The combined group will comprise 72 locations, totalling 3.1m sq ft across London, as well as Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Bristol, Leeds, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, with plans to expand into other European cities. The co-founders of the two businesses will drive the new company forward. Olly Olsen will be Executive Chairman, Enrico Sanna will be Chief Executive Officer and Charlie Green will become President. Katrina Larkin will be Chief Environment, Social and Governance Officer. Together they bring almost 60 years of sector experience and knowledge to the organisation.


“Businesses are increasingly recognising that the workplace is no longer a commodity, but rather a space that can be used to actively drive improved productivity, collaboration and the wellbeing of their teams,” Sanna comments. “The combined portfolio of TOG and Fora will meet this need and evolving expectations, offering high quality and flexible locations that are design-led, with a range of services and amenities that are conducive to enhanced employee and business performance.” “The combination of our businesses will ensure that we are best placed to meet this growth opportunity in both the UK and Europe, offering existing and potential members even greater choice,” adds Olsen. theofficegroup.com | foraspace.com



Life’s a Beach


Soho House has chosen bastion of boho Brighton as the site for its first coastal UK property. Occupying a Grade II listed terrace on Madeira Drive, Brighton Beach House is the group’s third opening outside of London and features a raft of seaside-friendly features – including a terrace pool with Channel views. There’s also a nifty bar, events spaces and a Club Ceecconi’s-branded restaurant serving up Northern Italian dishes.

In design, Brighton Beach House draws from the spirit of its surroundings, with a whimsical, Art Deco-inspired aesthetic and an emphasis on local suppliers and makers – including fabrics from Brighton University graduate Miranda Forrester and an artwork collection featuring more than 110 pieces by creatives born, based or trained in Brighton. The pool features a flamboyant banana mosaic designed by famed visual artist David Shrigley.

The glass-fronted House is connected via a courtyard to Soho Works, a dedicated co-working space set to open later this year, geared towards the city’s growing number of mobile and remote-working residents.

“So many of our existing members live in Brighton,” said Nick Jones, CEO of Soho House, “so it seemed like a natural step to open a House in the city.” sohohouse.com


Bath and Beyond

In collaboration with British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, AXOR has extended its AXOR One bathroom collection with a selected palette of coloured taps and fixtures, inspired by a specific set of naturally occurring interactions between light, colour, and water. The extension comprises six new colour variants curated to evoke specific aspects of water in relation to the earth and the sky, including aquamarine, coral, ice, stone, shell and sand. “Each colour balances the ability to become part of a calm visual field with limitless scope for self-expression and individuality, reflecting the way in which bathrooms and small cloakrooms are increasingly becoming places


that are less about neutral utility and more about original and impactful design,” explains Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. “We chose the colours to complement the widest range of bathroom finishes, from enamel and concrete, to marble and wood.” Selected fixtures from the collection have a gloss finish, which reads like a layer of water over the surface colour whilst providing the easily cleanable surfaces required in a washroom. axor-design.com



Looking Luxe

Set to open early 2023, the Peninsula London will be a landmark new hotel-and-residences property in swish Belgravia. With 190-guestrooms and suites planned – plus 25 ultra-luxury homes – the building benefits from views of Buckingham Palace’s gardens and a general air of grandeur, with a colonnaded lobby set to welcome guests. BDP and Hopkins Architects are collaborating on the architectural design, while Peter Marino has been appointed to head up interiors – each referencing the history and stateliness of the neighbourhood in their prospective schemes. The property will include multiple destination restaurants, a lavish spa and a grand ballroom for glitzy


events. Also, a one-storey shopping arcade will bring nine new retail outlets to street level, spread across 1,100 sq m and planned to house leading luxury brands. Development of the project has been meticulous and has reportedly spanned decades, with an in-house research and development team constructing mock guestrooms and even engineering the driveway to meet the profile of any supercar. Huge emphasis has been placed on the residential component: with one to four bed apartments, a vast penthouse and dedicated lobby and lounge for permanent residents – who can also avail of the hotel’s services and amenities. peninsula.com


Fantastic Fungi


Blast Studio is a design studio created in 2018 by Paola Garnousset, Martin Detoeuf and Pierre de Pingon with the aim of exploring how nature and technology can be combined to transform discarded urban materials into products and architecture.

The mycelium grows and creates a skin with unpredictable colours and patterns which is as soft as a peach skin. Once fully grown, the studio dries the object to stop the development of the organism, then sculpting it into unique products using 3D printing technology.

The studio collects cardboard waste found around the cities - from coffee cups to pizza boxes – and transforms the waste into a biomaterial by introducing reishi, an edible fungus. The mycelium roots of the fungi naturally degrade the waste, transforming it into a strong and versatile material, recycling carbon and other essential elements in the process.

The so-called artefacts include a collection of unique tables in various colours, generated using an algorithm that recreates shapes of nature, inspired by tree trunks and stems. Also available are colourful tiles and sheets created for use in interior cladding, available plain or with a custom-made pattern. blast-studio.com



International Inspiration: Flying Colours

Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has reimagined Schiphol Airport’s VIP centre in typically esoteric fashion. A series of interconnected, multi-purpose spaces, the ‘lounge’ is a place to work, rest and socialise, and each room features its own distinctive interior scheme. The history and culture of the Netherlands is a common design thread, with replicas of famous artworks by Dutch masters; paint motifs inspired by the iconic blue and white of Delft ceramics; and seating areas that reference Amsterdam’s canal houses. Furnishings throughout were curated in collaboration with local design brand, Lensvelt, continuing a playful approach that also manifests in lighting fixtures designed to mimic street lamps and boldly printed rugs and carpets.


In the workroom – conceived as a space where travellers can sit with laptops or make calls – a trompe l’oeil effect on the walls creates the appearance of boiserie, or wood panelling, in a daring yellow ochre. Dutch accessories and lighting designers are showcased throughout, with decorative pieces from the likes of Maarten Baas, Studio Drift and Kiki van Eijk, and lighting from Ontwerp Duo, Studio Job, Atelier van Lieshout, Bertjan Pot and Rick Tegelaar. marcelwanders.com









Jane Maciver

Creative Director ID Buckley Gray Yeoman

Desert Island Desks What would our castaway industry figures take with them? Jane is creative director of the dedicated interior design studio at Buckley Gray Yeoman and has led award-winning international and UK projects across retail, F&B and hospitality for over 16 years. Maciver and her team are currently working on several new hotel and residential projects across the UK and the rest of Europe. bgy.co.uk

Juke box ESG Dance Talking Heads This Must be the Place Slam Vapour Patrick Cowley Do You Wanna Funk? (featuring Sylvester) Abba Gimme Gimme Gimme Aphex T win Avril 14th

01 A Trampoline Mostly for fun, but I did think of some practical reasons to have a trampoline on my island: A) I could sleep on it, B) I could shelter under it, C)I could make myself more noticeable to a passing ship when jumping on it.


02 Gown by Oscar de la Renta Being from a remote and weather worn island myself (The Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides), I am very much over practical island dressing. 03 Mamma / Up 5 Chair by Gaetano Pesce I am more drawn to the surreal than the serious and though the form of this chair is playful, there was quite a dark and serious message behind the design – Pesce said it was an image of a prisoner and that “women suffer because of the prejudice of men. The chair was supposed to talk about this problem.” I am not sure how much a chair can say about this topic. I personally have selected it for its aesthetic alone. 04 The Jane (Antwerp) Steak Knife For my whittling needs and just in case someone else comes to the island and finds my knife, they will know it’s mine. 05 Richard Ginori Neptune Platter I bought one for myself in Florence a couple of years ago and it always makes me smile. The island may provide meagre meals but at least I can present them on this beauty. 06 Dirty Martini ingredients (with Isle of Harris Gin) I’m perhaps a tad biased about this gin as it’s from ‘home’, but I genuinely love it – with its fresh sea kelp flavours and a beautiful bottle. 06




Paradoxically Speaking with Neil Usher

Going, Going, Green Green was once a shade reserved for eccentrics. When I first became involved in the movement in the late 1980s there was little general interest. A local election campaign I helped run amassed just over 100 votes, as we came a narrow last; a small but committed crowd. It’s come a long way, but for an overriding reason we’d be far happier didn’t exist: the climate emergency. We now have a new corporate acronym in play, ESG – the E being environmental. That, along with a host of must-have construction, fit-out and operational accreditations that no one who occupies a workspace is interested in. There’s barely an organisation that doesn’t trumpet its sustainability credentials. Even those busy destroying the planet. It reveals the problem at the heart of ‘green’ – the delta between lofty goals and day-to-day reality. That is, a reality in which the aim of reversing climate change is shattered into thousands of tiny fragments, each of which might be set aside as alone they make so little difference. Even though, when summed, they do. The paradox therefore becomes: I fully support my organisation’s green agenda, but I need my own desk when I come into the office. Of course, there are many more statements that may be placed after the ‘but’. Yet for office occupiers, accustomed as we are to seeing waste in tangible terms, the biggest problem has always been emptiness. Office occupancy in London was reported, the week of writing, to be up to a whopping 27%. That’s about half of

what it was pre-COVID, when it sat just about the half way mark. That’s half of a 10-hour stretched working day, five days a week. So even then offices were being used for around 15% of the available hours a week. Right now, at 27%, that’s comfortably in single digits. It’s estimated that the commercial real estate sector consumes 40% of global energy annually and accounts for more than one third of international carbon emissions. Each unused desk in the office equates to the creation of approximately one tonne of unnecessary C02 every year (on average) according to the CIBSE. That’s the equivalent of driving a diesel car 6,000 km. Many of the initiatives advocating ‘getting people back to the office’ – in addition to our paradox – conflict with a sustainable agenda. Free choice of when to attend drives a demand for workspace that can accommodate everyone if they exercise their will simultaneously. Offering more space per person can exacerbate that problem. Encouraging attendance on Tuesday to Thursday narrows even the potential for increasing beneficial use. Which is why we need the triple bottom line approach: balancing the needs of people, the organsiation and planet. A focus on one can often negatively impact one or both of the others. If we were more environmentally aware, we’d be more willing to make balanced choices. If we’re happy to use a refillable bottle we can accept that a smaller, more focussed and specific workplace with shared settings and space allocation technology is part of a green future. We’re all renewable now.

N eil U sher is Chief Workplace & Change Strategist at GoSpace AI and author of The Elemental Workplace and Elemental Change



Adventure in Diversity Interview: Daytrip

Daytrip founders I wan H alstead and E mily P otter

on originality, storytelling and what makes for good design. Words: Chloé Petersen Snell

Founded by Iwan Halstead and Emily Potter, Daytrip is a London based design studio specialising in architecture and interiors. Creating spaces across workplace, hospitality, retail and residential, the team are known for considered and impactful spaces that are unique to each client and purpose - through intelligent use of materials, an attention to detail and awareness of style.

It’s this ability to work so unrestricted by entrenched styles across different sectors that makes Daytrip so unique – and a studio to watch in 2022 and beyond, as it prepares to unveil the interiors for The Office Group’s ground-breaking Black & White building.

With life changing abruptly in the first few months of 2020, Daytrip’s work for a media company in Clerkenwell offered a good example of how workplaces can blur the boundaries between work and home. Building upon a reinterpretation of strong feminine aesthetics, the team looked at 1950s kitchens, Hollywood glamour and the orange-hazed vibe of Californian club houses as references. The result is a daring and eclectic approach to colour and a mix of materials that range from the industrial – plywood, pigmented MDF and passivated zinc – to the luxe, with high gloss lacquer finishes, deep velvets and plush carpets in lipstick red and acid yellow.

IH Emily and I both studied together at Nottingham Trent University. We formed a bond through a shared appreciation for one another’s aesthetic - Emily’s minimalist attention to detail caught my eye and I was described as more of a ‘surrealist’ by one of our lecturers. After graduating we discussed the idea of starting a studio together. Ten years later, and after completing several small projects we developed together outside of our previous employment, we set up Daytrip on the back of winning the menswear floor at Liberty London.

Quite different then from their work at Turner Contemporary, which sits on Margate’s iconic seafront. Inspired by Turner himself, as well as the surrounding landscapes and the effect of salt and rain on the metal architecture of the Chipperfield-designed building, Daytrip created a new fit-out for the store using humble materials, muted colours and minimal furniture.

How did the studio come to be?

EP I often think of our studio as full of contradiction. We are drawn to gentle, quiet environments, created with a lightness of touch and then we throw in something bold as a surprise; or we will develop a contemporary aesthetic by looking to the past for bygone references. We’re drawn to contrast and creating a narrative. A Daytrip design will always be referential and feel uplifting.


Above image: Turner Contemporary, Margate

Do you have any differing opinions or sticking points?

What have you been working on recently and what project are you most proud of?

IH I’d worry if we were always in agreement. It’s important to have different opinions and be able to debate what’s correct for each project. There is often no right or wrong answer and sometimes it’s a matter of taste. Emily and I do have differing styles, though. Emily can be more detail orientated and practical whereas I can be more avant-garde and visionary, yet somehow we do agree on what we both like and consider good design. I think it tends to come down to an appreciation of quality and craft, consideration of detail and functionality, and sometimes it matters to us whether it is unique or different to what is already on the mainstream design blogs. We always aim to make each project distinctive.

IH Currently we are working with The Office Group on two major new office developments in Central London; one new-build workplace building in Shoreditch constructed completely in Cross Laminated Timber by Waugh Thistleton Architects; and another eight-storey office building by David Chipperfield in Kings Cross. Both interior renovations are completely unique and a departure for The Office Group. These projects came to the studio during COVID restrictions, at a time when sharing space with strangers felt complicated. We wanted to demonstrate how interior design can enable interaction and a sense of community: we’ve involved local artists and makers and have explored sustainable, recycled, British-made materials throughout the schemes. We’re very excited to reveal them this summer.

EP We agree more than we disagree and we also both deeply care, which means that it’s always coming from the right place. We’ll debate what feels correct for the project, according to all the parameters, our concept, client brief, context, budget and so on. Design is not a linear process and no singular opinion is right.




You work fluidly across several different sectors - how do you maintain your design dna?

Speaking of references: who or what are you inspired by?

IH Emily and I are aware of our industry and we were keen from the beginning not to be too pigeonholed into a house style. We both have wide references from old, historic antiquities and period architecture to contemporary art, modern furniture, fashion and design. These influences continue to inspire us and each of our clients bring their own narrative and personality, which we aim to reflect in the spaces we design for them.

EP Everything inspires us. Our eyes are always open and my photo reel grows and grows. Of course, we have a selection of Daytrip known favourites, but with every project we find ourselves exploring new avenues.

EP We’re strong believers in the power of collaboration. Wherever possible, we involve artists and makers with our work. We partner with them to bring in new elements and enjoy how their own thinking will complement and enrich our environments.

IH There are too many amazing creatives to take inspiration from that I would struggle to narrow it down to a select few. I enjoy travelling and a lot of my inspiration comes from taking trips abroad. Japan is a constant influence on Emily and I, and always seems to appear in our references. Currently I have been delving into the Art Deco archives to discover Jean Dunand, a decorative artist of the early 20th Century.

Can you walk us through a typical Daytrip design process? IH References are pulled from a large library of books and blogs and are endlessly sifted through to find the right imagery that begins a narrative. I like contrasts and the juxtaposition of words and images assists my visual imagination and aids my communication to wider members of the team, including Emily. Our library is an abundance of inspiration and materials, and finishes play an important factor in how we shape an interior. We often bring materials to the table and see what works with one another – very similarly to how we put images next to each other on a page, one material can complement the other and begin a dialogue, a mood or a tone. EP In the early stages we define the concept as Iwan describes and we look at how this affects a layout and interventions in the existing shell. We then progress to a development stage, selecting materials and specifications, partnering with builders and specialist makers who will bring our ideas to life. Throughout the process we coordinate with the client, taking onboard their brief and seeking their approval.

Image on

opposite page:

Media company offices, Clerkenwell


Left image: Bloc, Manchester

What do you consider the role of an interior designer to be today? EP It very much depends on the project, but we play a part in shaping the way people live, shop, eat and entertain. We learn about our clients, respond to their needs and help define their businesses and lives. IH For me, it’s about creating a vibe or an atmosphere. If you walk into a space, a building or a structure and feel an emotional change then the designer or architect has created something special. If I’m designing for a retail brand or hospitality client, then it’s important to explore what kind of space is appropriate and what feelings to evoke. Many of our residential clients want their homes to feel comfortable, personable and, ultimately, theirs. It is my job to enable that through distinct, subtle design techniques that enhance that comfort level. It could be warm materials, soft patinas, complimentary colour palettes or contrasting textures, each shapes the interior atmosphere.


What does the future hold for Daytrip? IH It’s very difficult to predict what the future holds as each month we’re surprised by what lands in our emails. The odder the project, the more intriguing - we like the challenge. We are optimistic and looking forward to seeing what happens next. We have always wanted to design a boutique hotel, though, hopefully with a swimming pool. EP It’s been an unusual couple of years and the future feels more unpredictable than ever - especially as our industry often reflects the zeitgeist - but it’s spring and we’re feeling optimistic. daytrip.studio



Build To Rent:

The Post-Pandemic Recipe for Success Fora is, of course, the leading premi-

um flex workspace provider. Founded in 2016 by Katrina Larkin and E nrico Sanna , Fora is a product of their shared vision to create a workspace that truly embraces and elevates modern working life.

In partnership with

Words: David Thame


Fora’s premium, hospitality-focused offering was first brought to life in its Old Street location and since then has gone from strength to strength, expanding to eleven workspaces (and counting) in central London and Reading. The latest addition to the portfolio is Fitzrovia; just a stone’s throw from London’s flagship stores, world-class restaurants and major transport links, including the new Elizabeth line, the building is situated in an elegant coveted enclave at Wells Mews. Catio volore cum nus aut alit veniatem et lat possunt, qui odi dem quaspedipsa conesto tatur? Caecatem niassunt, qui con es doloratem vel idempellor aliquibusam volorem ut restrum acestrum et volores sitisquia int as parciet magnis est, seditatur sit qui consequia in eos ad ulpa con expedit id et alignat emperem il maximpossini quaspernatem niae nem experaest ipsamus represtibea dit fugit aut lam fuga. Nem ea nem quis etusandi que si ut ese que volorehenda sequi dustemo lorerrum eostis est aute quis est molorenihit omnimil id quia dolo ium et volorporia dolorrunt auditis a volori aut omnitas derum fugia volestis denient, sequi conse simodignisci dem vitae labore perio. Nemporeperum rem iliquatur? Equam ium quiasperum sam ea nihillupta voluptas es cum atur sed mod qui ratem quibus moluptur? Qui ilit labo. Susciatur? Oluptati vendit quam imperorit, autem velitiat fugiam fugit as pre maioribus


Timeless Design, Fit for our Times Kelly Hoppen CBE discusses her signature aesthetic, creating

without labels and bringing Miami to Mauritius at LUX* Grand Baie. Words: Harry McKinley

We’re a world creaking back into motion. Virtual site visits are being replaced by physical ones; client catch-ups over Teams by those over coffee. That our conversation with Kelly Hoppen happens in a car – weaving through London traffic in the window between one in-person meeting and the next – is testament to the changing conditions of the design industry and the re-acquired freedoms of those leading it. “Without technology I couldn’t have done it,” Hoppen says, of helming an international practice in the midst of a pandemic. “We were running 48 projects and signing on new ones in Australia, but for two years we never shut down, despite the challenges. I was on a call this morning to Beijing. Pre-pandemic I would have flown over for two days, now I don’t have to.” With offices in Portugal and several in Asia, Hoppen’s interiors business has a global footprint. She’s also parlayed a soaring public profile into various consumer product collections, a series of books and a podcast centred on entrepreneurialism and life lessons. As a hospitality designer then, she is that rare thing: a household name. Her latest commercial project is a hefty 116 suite, villa and residence resort in Mauritius – the LUX* Grand Baie. Set snug against the Indian Ocean it is, as you might expect, awash with creams and greys; melding Eastern restraint with an element of easy Western comfort. It’s an aesthetic and approach synonymous with Hoppen, so much so that she’s developed the affectionate moniker ‘The Queen of Taupe’ – a title she’s proud to own.

“It’s something that has been with me since I was 16, when I first started designing,” she says. “It’s lasted the test of time, of course. I was very enamoured with the East when I was a teenager, but I love the West and, in those days, you didn’t have Instagram or Google, so those parts that I’m known for – all the borders and the symmetry – just came from things that I saw. It was a very organic process. Over the years, writing 12 books, it’s evolved a lot, but it always comes back to the same philosophy. My design has the same DNA now as it did then.” She doesn’t have a traditional design education, either. Unlike many of her peers in hospitality design, she hasn’t filtered through the classrooms of a lofty creative college. In fact, she’s often discussed her dyslexia as an early struggle, although it’s something that helped her hone her ability to visualise. Her process then, is grounded in intuition and transforming a sensibility, mood or feeling into something physical; taking a certain energy and allowing it to coalesce into colours, fabrics and furnishings. “I can’t explain it,” she says, with a wide laugh. “I’m very instinctive. Sometimes I’ll ask a client what song they want a space to feel like and I’ll design around that – the texture of the layers, the balance of a room. My goodness, it’s not just about choosing a sofa. And I’ve talked about this for 40-odd years and it’s only now that people are asking me about it. Maybe it was too ‘out there’, but it’s probably why I still love doing what I do, because it’s at a very different level and not just making throwaway choices about how something looks.”


Above image: The LUX* Grand Baie is Hoppen’s largest Mauritian project

It’s not lost on Hoppen either, that her East meets West manifesto is just as relevant today as ever – even after a 90s and noughties period of mainstream adoption, that saw feng shui and Buddha heads slide from height of fashion to passé. “What’s interesting about designing for post-COVID, is that the East has been designing a certain way for ages,” she explains. “As a studio, we’ve been designing in China and the rest of Asia a particular way for 15 years, since the SARS epidemic; even considering how certain surface choices can be cleaned or having separate rooms for shoes worn outside. So there’s a sense that the East has been ahead of us in many ways, in ways that we wouldn’t have recognised two years ago.”


It’s not the only shift in thinking, of course. Endless column inches have been dedicated to the changing face of luxury, to our reoriented values and to our evolved tastes, now that society has been picked up by the scruff of the neck and given a shake. What was once predictable now isn’t and designers are having to design for a people changed and for a global order that has shifted on its axis. “There’s no doubt that hospitality is going to have to relook at how design works for the public and what our needs are going forward,” Hoppen says. “Go to any Soho House and everyone’s sat on laptops working and that’s cool. As how people work changes, it’s great they can go there instead of working on their ironing boards or


Opposite page: Top left Hoppen’s signature neutral colour palette Top right image A consistent material story at the hotel’s spa Bottom image The property is envisaged a global meeting point

in small spaces at home, as some people had to. Then again, I think that hospitality will adapt itself depending on if it’s a city or, you know, by a beach or whatever it is. Because we shouldn’t forget that it’s about creating a fantasy for people as well.” The LUX* Grand Baie is very much at the fantasy end of the spectrum, not only a world away from ironing board Zoom calls but, “a serenity away from schools and dogs and washing up,” as Hoppen jokes. “We absolutely took for granted the simple excitement of a hotel. Ultimately, I think luxury has always been about the experience and design is part of that.” The property is one in a series that she’s partnered with LUX* on, but here there was greater creative freedom. Unlike the others, all renovation projects, LUX* Grand Baie was a new-build, with the Mauritian Jean-François Adam heading up architecture – modelling the building on the curves of the country’s old sail boats. But if the architecture is a story of place, the interiors take guests on a different journey. Hoppen wanted to create something ambiguously intercontinental, with a lobby, for example, that would be just as at home in ‘Miami as Mauritius.’


“I didn’t want to put a label on it,” says Hoppen, on the interiors inspiration. “It’s very pared back and I wanted to create something very international. The restaurant is very much Eastern influenced, but I wanted to create a certain vibrancy that is more Miami-like also – such as with the rooftop pool. But then across the street there are local shops and so it’s a very different kind of area. People are coming from all over Mauritius and the world to the town, so that’s why I wanted to make it more neutral and more of a global meeting destination, rather than it being another beach hotel.” Hoppen describes the project as the ‘perfect child’ – something she created, nurtured and which has gone on to flourish independently since opening, resonating with travellers. “With a hotel, you’re relying very much on your own feelings and what you would want as a guest,” she says. “Each project is different but it’s particularly different from, say, the couple of 80,000 sq ft homes in Hong Kong we’re working on. They’re massive, but you’re dealing with a family and that family’s brief. What I would say, though, is that I’m not intimidated by scale because, at the end of the day, you design one space at a time. I suppose it’s like a chef: when they know they’ve


Below image Flashes of colour enliven spaces

got to cook 100 meals, they just cook one, then the next and then the next. If anything, scale is more exciting because you have more of an opportunity to tell a story. It’s also a bit like creating music as well then, I suppose. You start with a beat and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, until you get to the chorus and then it starts all over again.” It’s a majestic spring day when we speak: blindingly bright with clear blue skies. And just as it feels that the seasons have resolutely tipped, that air of positive change lingers. So what is Kelly Hoppen – a designer known for consistency and, in turn, stability – taking forward as we gradually emerge into an arguably altered world? “I think people are learning to live in the moment,” she offers. “You know, we’re thinking differently and people are much more humble in their way of thinking. People are very clear about what they want now, also. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think generally, as a designer, hoteliers and restaurateurs can’t just do the same things they always have done. Great creations come out of change and I think, out of COVID, a lot of positive things will emerge. Five years from now, we may go back to how it was, and that’s fine. Everything’s full circle to an extent. But for now, I think it’s a time to put everything in a jar, shake it up, put your hand in and pull something new out.”



The Ask with Tina Norden

Is hybrid hospitality the future of the high street? Difficult moments have always given rise to great ideas. With the pandemic, we have seen many clever adaptations and businesses twisting themselves into new ways of working to cope with our new realities. Already noticeable long before 2020, our high streets are looking distinctly bereft these days. This has been rapidly accelerated over the last couple of years, with more of us buying online. Add to that not being allowed to visit restaurants and bars for months on end. Why go out when someone brings it right to your door? We do want to go out though, now more than ever, but possibly for activities more interesting than browsing the shelves of a shop. Are single-function spaces over then? The idea of hybrid spaces in the true sense of the word has gained more currency and may well hold a clue for the future of redundant spaces. Hotels have been onto this since Ace revolutionised the lobby and they are always looking at new ways to utilise their public spaces, both for activation and revenue. Even the humble community centre has been doing just that for ages – maybe with less stylish interiors. We have seen all sorts of eccentric combinations, such as restaurants in a launderette, which have come a long way from the bookshop with café that was probably one of the first hybrid ideas. Concept stores have been on this path since the days of Colette, with a curated range of stock, but also other functions, whether a tailor, water bar or lunch spot. There are also clever new ideas like Denizen in Berlin, combining co-working with recreation

and community in a very different way to WeWork and giving the concept revitalised currency. We have always used our spaces in a hybrid way. The less space (or shall we say the more expensive it is) the more inventive we are with it – and there is always someone using a space differently to how it was imagined. Just think of all the places we worked in over lockdown. We are highly adaptable as human beings and always looking for new ways to shape our environment, finding alternatives for unused spaces or how we use them. For us as designers, the question is how we ‘design hybrid’. Is there a set of rules or does it swiftly become like designing multi-purpose function rooms: something for everyone that becomes nothing very quickly? Or do we design spaces that address the hybrid brief functionally and then allow the space to flow and facilitate a number of uses organically – creating layers of options and possibilities that are based on a strong overall (visual) identity? If other incidental uses happen as a result, even better, but it is important to set an initial ambition and narrative to expand upon. That leads onto a key part in the equation: a clear intent as to what the space is setting out to be and how that may monetise itself. If commercial rents are paid, even if reduced, the space will need to pay for itself in some way. So consideration as to what the space can do as a service and charging for this – maybe in indirect and inventive ways, such as memberships – needs to be part of the creative thinking.

T ina N orden is a partner at Conran and Partners, where she has been a member of the board since 2016



Colour Theory Case study: Zetteler


Words: Chloé Petersen Snell Photography: Taran Wilkhu

Communications agency Zetteler and Studio Rhonda have transformed an industrial block of studios into a vibrant and inclusive multipurpose space that defies convention.


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Main workplace setting featuring Max Lamb and Herman Miller chairs Image on

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Oversized planting and storage space sit against duck egg blue walls Left image: Natural light streams through glass tiles in the meeting room

Founder of eponymous communications firm Zetteler, Sabine Zetteler and her team have an impressive roster of clients within the built environment. Zetteler, the company, has been immersed in workspace design thinking for almost 10 years, from its early days as a small-scale PR outfit to its present-day as a multi-service communications agency. No wonder then, that when the team looked to create a new space, they realised that there were more exciting possibilities than the conventional single office serving a single business. Working in collaboration with Rhonda Drakeford of Studio Rhonda and Darkroom, Zetteler’s new office is designed to be a flexible resource that the team can use as they need: as a space to work, hold meetings and host events, as well as offered out to their community of creatives, start-ups and charities when in need a venue. “I want the space to offer both our own team and the wider creative community somewhere flexible, beautiful and functional, where they can come and get together for whatever they need,” comments Zetteler. “Connecting people is a huge part of what we do. For the first time in our history, we’re in a position to properly invest


in creating the ideal space – I want as many people to benefit from it as possible.” Functionally, the space needed to be deaf-friendly. Zetteler has severe conductive hearing loss, and open office spaces with hard floors and high ceilings create echo chambers that can be highly disruptive. Employing materials and partitions to create a deaffriendly space was complicated by another priority – the need for the space to be vegan. This was a particular obstacle when it came to soft furnishings such as rugs and curtains, as most acoustic materials use animalderived fabrics such as wool. Working together, Drakeford and Zetteler used the challenge as an opportunity to explore new possibilities in interior design, sourcing vegan alternatives to all materials, from the paints for the walls to the fabrics for curtains. Many materials are thought to be vegan, but often involve animal-derived components in their manufacture, especially in glues. Although this made the process more complicated than a standard workplace design, it inspired some out-of-the-box thinking about the relationship between values and design, and resulted in a proof of concept for the idea that a modern workplace can be styled to reflect the practical


needs and moral outlook of its occupants. According to Drakeford, Zetteler HQ has been “an exercise in getting a relatively small space to work really hard at helping the team and their clients.” Located on the seventh floor of Regents’ Studios, off Broadway Market, the 1,000 sq ft workspace is divided into three zones, each with a different atmosphere and each suited to a different way of working. Drakeford’s carefully chosen colourways help break the space down into its constituent zones. A colour shift from a cool duck-egg blue to a warmer sunny soft peach tone in the walls, floors and ceiling marks a change in ambiance between the main work area at the front and the more relaxed space at the rear. “Colour is a hugely important factor in the delineation of this space and I wanted to work with it in an almost subliminal way, by first of all ‘dipping’ the walls, ceiling and floors in a dreamy palette of duck-egg blue and natural buff before we fitted everything,” Drakeford explains. “This is very much a light industrial space, within a mid-century, purpose built light industrial block. I didn’t want to hide the core element of the building’s

Below image: Kitchen from HØLTE


heritage, so the ‘dipped’ paint concept of all floors, walls and ceilings included any pipes and brickwork and has an honesty to its roots. The unexpected colour drenching serves as a conduit, transporting you from the industrial to something else entirely.” The space opens into the ‘blue’ section - the most formal working zone, yet even here there is a relaxed feel with a large communal table from Max Lamb for Hem, with chairs from Herman Miller. The colour palette is strict yet calming in its softness, which is intended to nurture focus according to the designer – wrapping the walls and furnishings and offset with touches of warm terracotta and brick-coloured accessories. Oversize planting softens the edges of the space and brings the benefits of biophilia. “I was conscious of the difference in light from the front to the rear of the space as it sits on a N/S axis and also how the seasons would have an impact on the light and colour palettes,” Drakeford explains. “I worked with the cool, duck-egg blue at the front, south-facing area as I knew that the space tends to get very warm in the summer. A warmer, buff colour was used at the rear,


Opposite page: Top Image: View of the Valchromatencased meeting ‘pod’ Bottom Left: Meeting room details Bottom Right: Warmer tones are used in the rear café area

north-facing section, to counteract how cold that area can feel in the winter months. Walking through these immersive colours that I had painted on walls, floor and ceilings, it gives a visual impression of dimming or switching on the lights.” At the rear, the so-called ‘café’ space is playful, with a more diverse colour palette that sits in a core framework of buff and light oak. Chalky greens are introduced via hand-made pigmented tiles; tomato red in the pigmented ash coffee table and metal-framed glazed vitrine; warm oranges from a wood-cut artwork and a bespoke Valchromat storage addition to the wood-block minimalist kitchen from Zetteler client, HØLTE. A variety of table heights encourage a more relaxed stance that is perfect for events and breakout meetings. “It was important to both Sabine and I that she is able to reuse as much of the furniture and materials as possible in the future when the company inevitably leaves the space at the end of tenancy. The two main structures were designed with this in mind — the glass brick walls can be broken down and reused and the kitchen can be flatpacked and rebuilt elsewhere too.” Between the work and café spaces sits a purpose-built meeting space encased in walls of deep blue Valchromat and translucent glass bricks, that allow in dappled light while creating a sense of privacy. “Sabine had requested glass bricks to be used in a central partitioned ‘meeting pod’, to allow for light to be visible throughout the space. I sourced some Czech glass bricks with graphically linear mouldings for a contemporary edge,” says Drakeford. “I devised an anchor line of 2300mm from the ground as the top height of any structures so as to keep a coherence in all three zones and also to help the space retain an openplan feel — the roof of this glass-brick ‘pod’ stops at the 2300mm anchor line, allowing light to travel over it.” The project is a convincing reminder that the industry needn’t rely on convention in the design of interior spaces and proves that a more inclusive, ethical approach to design is entirely feasible – both economically and aesthetically. “Ultimately, the design choices culminate in wellbeing,” Drakeford concludes. “I really want the space to nudge you into a happier place, ready to take on the day.”


Fora and Fauna Case study: Fora


Fora is the leading premium flex workspace provider in the UK.

Founded in 2016 by Katrina Larkin and Enrico Sanna, it’s a product of their shared vision to create a workspace that truly embraces and elevates modern working life. Words: Mick Jordan


Above image: Refreshment point

Fora’s premium, hospitality-focused offering was first brought to life in its Old Street location and since then has gone from strength to strength, expanding to 11 workspaces (and counting) in central London and Reading. The latest addition to the portfolio is Fitzrovia. Just a stone’s throw from London’s flagship stores, world-class restaurants and major transport links, including the new Elizabeth line, the building is situated in an elegant enclave at Wells Mews. Formerly a 1930s textiles warehouse, the bold interior concept gestures to the building’s heritage. The space features photography curated by British Fashion Council’s NEW WAVE: Creatives, exhibited on the ground floor, which unites core themes of fashion and sustainability. Biophilic design and vertical farm towers offer distinctive health and productivity benefits, whilst enhancing the unique, home away from home experience. Welcomed in through the ground floor lounge area and coffee bar, Wells Mews comprises state-of-the-art office space, a suite of tech-enabled meeting rooms and


a wellbeing studio with programmed classes and secure cycle storage. The building also features an Innovation Lab, which is available for private hire. Wells Mews is the first collaboration between Fora, Design with Narrative and Modus. Design with Narrative (DWN) was brought on board from concept design to work with Fora on the creation of a unique design story, as Christina Morgan, design director at DWN, explains: “Our interiors aim to tell a story through space – threading together a unique narrative that connects a building’s context and heritage with the people who will use it. This approach creates a sense of authenticity, memory and also builds a distinctive community. “With Wells Mews, we really enjoyed working with Fora to unpick the building’s history. We discovered the building was originally used for making fashion garments back in the 1930s. The factory floors once housed seamstresses and pattern cutters, who made collections for Oxford Street’s heyday department stores. We thought this was a wonderful story to be celebrated and also beautifully connected back to the way Fora tailors each of its own

workspaces. Working with Fora and Modus’s in-house design team, we came together to carefully craft each detail, texture, pattern and furniture piece to the setting.” This is very much a personalised workspace. No two Fora workspaces are the same and it was important that a unique story, which was sympathetic to the building’s heritage, was told here. That being said, it was also important that Wells Mews should reveal Fora’s DNA – spaces that are energised with bright, bold patterns and lush greenery. A holistic approach to work, life balance was also a key theme within the space, which houses a dedicated wellness floor, complete with basement garden, yoga studio, spa-like showers and fitness studio.


Above image: Bright hospitality zones feature lush greenery and bold colours

We ask Toby Benzecry, Founder of Modus Workspace, to tell us more about the brief and the process here. “Fora has a number of workplace settings, a selection that varies in scale, from formal to informal, which was an important fit across the six levels of the building. “Whilst there was great emphasis on creating the aesthetic finish, none of it works without hitting the numbers: building occupancy, meeting room capacity, bike storage, toilet provision, showers, acoustic performance, light levels and a plethora of other criteria, right down to the cycle time of the dishwashers. Everything is prescribed and this is what makes the Fora product so successful – it not only looks good, but it really works.”

Vidhi Sharma, creative director at Modus Workspace, continues: “The concept was very much driven by the building’s fashion garment making history. The team had a lot of fun with applying patterns and textures and working with some of the best pattern craftspeople in the industry, such as Floor Story for bespoke rugs and Elisa Passino on beautifully hand painted wall tiles. “Our main priority was to bring the concept from Design Narrative to life. Our ideas were big, which meant that our team had a challenging job ahead of them. “Fora has a real knack for finding beautiful buildings to house coworking spaces and I’d have to say Wells Mews is the best yet. You instantly know that a space is going to be exceptional and out of the ordinary when you have


a great foundation to begin with and can lean on the history of the building to enhance its design.” When asked what is at the heart of the design concept here, Fiona Fuller, Project Designer at DWN, considers: “The level of craftsmanship and unique design is something rarely seen in commercial projects today. Fora really has invested in the details. Each work floor has its own unique design too, so residents do not feel part of a cookie cutter project.” “The arrival space and ground floor is the ‘wow’ space,” Morgan adds. “Entering from an unassuming street, we dive into the luscious arrival space – with a central hospitality bar draped in hanging plants and grounded on a vibrant floor pattern. From this central hub, Fora’s residents can choose from an array of formal and informal meeting spaces. You don’t feel like you are in Central London anymore and certainly not in an office workspace.”

Client Fora Space Interior Designer Design with Narrative Design & Build Contractor Modus Workspace Cost Consultant Exigere Fire Consultant Trigon Fire MEP Cundalls Project Manager G&T

Left Image: An impressive terrazzo central bar in the hospitality lounge



Case Study: PZ Cussons by Incognito

Original Source Incognito mixes sensory design with true flexibility to create a workplace that can bend to the needs of its occupants. Words: Chloé Petersen Snell Photography: Mike Dinsdale, Midas Photography

The entrance to PZ Cussons, lying under several flight paths near Manchester’s busy airport, is like any other corporate lobby: minimal furniture and touches of biophilia surround a reception desk. Later, the mood changes as one enters a vibrant and sensorial workspace: rich colours, clever lighting and a variety of smart and functional spaces, topped off with the unmistakable scent of the healthcare manufacturers’ famous brands. Here, the ground floor sets the scene, comprising a series of multipurpose areas, from adaptable workshop zones that transform into larger event spaces to a variety of meeting rooms and a communal meeting space, as well as a bright and lively café. Designed by Incognito and delivered by Flexible Business Interiors, the reimagination of PZ Cussons’ global HQ took just 12 months to complete and is an example of fast-paced, thorough workplace consultancy, followed by creative, future-proofed design and impeccable construction.

“PZ Cussons have been a dream client – they were clear from the outset about where they want the business to go, they have a great back story but are forward-thinking, and they aspire to provide a better, healthier, more inspirational working environment for their staff,” says Incognito Director, Simon Millington. “Much of the interior design concept focuses on creating dynamic, innovative spaces in which PZ Cussons’ employees can thrive; spaces that draw on the characteristics of their leading brands.” Incognito’s latest project is one that requires an understanding of how multi-use spaces function - and how the space can interact with its users as their needs and activities evolve. It’s why this project works: it recognises how the needs of those employees have grown more complex over the past two years and considers how thoughtful, human-led design can act as an anchor that keeps us together, framing the workplace as much as a hub for community as productivity.


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Level 1 gathering space Bottom image on previous page: The communal meeting space uses natural materials and the latest workplace tech Below image: Flexible rotating walls on the ground floor

This flexibility and facilitation of hybrid working has reduced PZC’s active floorplates from three to two, which will ensure PZC’s ongoing energy usage remains low and provides accommodation for the company to move into as it meets its growth targets over the coming years. Investment in the latest workplace technologies further ensures that the option to work from home, or to host meetings virtually, is there and can help to reduce unnecessary travel. “In September 2020 the client asked, how do we get back into the space? How do we create a cultural place to come back into it, and how do we get pace and passion back into the business?” Millington explains. “They wanted to be very sustainable in their approach, but also look at how we can get the most out of real estate as well.”


Design innovations have been used to expertly recycle existing fixtures from the previous fitout a decade ago, masterminding a scheme that marries old and new. “For the furniture, we tried to go with a 30-mile menu,” says Millington. “This was due to supply chain continuity. It was blocked at the time and inflation costs were going through the roof, but also from a sustainability angle, we wanted to make sure that the energy used getting everything to the site was reduced as much as possible.” Off the shelf solutions were not always available, particularly with the need to create tailored flexibility in the ground floor space. No existing systems could do what the designer wanted it to and so Incognito and Flexible Business Interiors created something new.


Bespoke joinery T-walls created by the FBI team allow PZC to take full control of its space and hack it to meet changing needs day to day. The walls work like a swiss army knife: easily opening, closing and hinging to either create intimate spaces or open right up to reveal the full floorplate and a space suitable for large conferencing or social events. Mindful use of colour and bespoke lighting fosters a sense of warmth and familiarity. While this HQ is home to many brands, Incognito looked to them individually for material inspiration. Each has been used to define an area within the floorplate: from the fresh Original Source themed gathering space at the heart of the ground floor to a darker, plusher collaboration zone on the first floor which uses the colour palette of Imperial Leather. It’s not only how the spaces look: each area has been designed to be multi-sensory and uses smell, sound and touch to complete the experience and actively consider neurodiversity. Surrounding these communal spaces are traditional desking areas for those who like routine and a place to call home, while individuals looking for a quiet place to work on specific tasks will find solace in the focus zones. A ‘mothballed’ third floor remains untouched, ready for the next phase of the company’s growth. The stark contrast between the pre-pandemic office and the new way of working is incredibly apparent here – rows of white desks and poor acoustics, the floorplate seems smaller and cramped than it’s lower-level counterparts, full of happy optimism for what lies ahead.


Client PZ Cussons Interior Designer Incognito Fit out Flexible Business Interiors Flooring Interface, Milliken, Solus Ceramics Furniture Provider ED Office Interiors Furniture Humanscale, Identity Furniture, Verco, Modus, Nomique, sixteen3, Mobili Surfaces Camira Fabrics, Romo Group, Egger Laminate, Solus Ceramics Lighting Bocci, Lightforms

Above image: Moveable walls in the workshop spaces

Scandinavian Warmth Case study: Inhabit Queen’s Gardens


At the 159-room Inhabit Queen’s Gardens, Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design explore original wellness, channeling a combination of northern European style and Eastern philosophy.

Words: Kristofer Thomas Photography: Tim Evan Cook



In hotel design, wellness has come to mean many things to many guests. Wellness is yoga mats and face-masks; wellness is plant covered walls; wellness is fine-tuned medical treatments and wellness is a moment of quiet in a busy city. When a turn of phrase is saturated to this extent, it becomes difficult to truly pin down any one interpretation as being correct. The solution? Give guests the opportunity to explore this broad value from multiple angles and they will define it for themselves.

holistic interpretation and so too the calming effects of spatial harmony. Likewise, providing an element of social wellness, suppliers have been selected for their good intentions as much as their designs; joinery by Goldfinger – an initiative combining community-sourced materials with ‘planet-positive’ construction methods – is joined by cushions from Aerende, the Hertfordshire-based nonprofit studio that works with makers recovering from mental health issues and adults with learning disabilities.

Taking visual cues from Scandinavia and a dash of Zen philosophy from further east, Inhabit Queen’s Gardens is the eponymous brand’s second London property following a 2019 debut in Paddington’s Southwick Street. It sees designers Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design reunited to usher in the next chapter.

“The design experience goes beyond the visual,” says Caitlin Henderson. “As consumers we have become more conscious and want to know how things are made and who made them. Wherever possible, we tried to work with businesses that value sustainability and social change.”

Occupying a curl of 19th century townhouses near Lancaster Gate, the 159-key project is first and foremost a wellness hotel, though it eschews the buzz-baiting pitfalls of the term with an approach that instills personal and social ideals into its core. Featuring a 70-cover meat-free restaurant, a tranquil artwork series curated by Culture A, a dedicated wellness centre (Inhale at Inhabit), and a noise-free library lined with meditation guides, selfhelp tomes and area guides alike, the project channels a

Public spaces in the lounge and lobby unfold with a light, airy palette of white walls, eggshell accents and pale timber, and are populated by furnishings from Carl Hansen and Muuto, atop Havwoods flooring. Pops of colour are subtle and focused, with royal blue fabrics and green plant-life quietly drawing the eye, though moments of striking statement are found in pieces like the natural white and green veined marble bar sourced from Surrey Marble & Granite Company. Elsewhere, a reception fireplace in custom terrazzo by Granby Workshop and

Top image on opposite page: Public areas are designed to promote a sense of wellness Bottom image on oppposite page: Neatly styled bedrooms are Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design


Left image: The Scandinavianinspired gym

a textured art installation behind the check-in by Anne Mette Beck are illuminated by a mixture of natural light and pieces specified by lighting specialist There’s Light.

Henderson adds. “For this reason, we incorporated natural oak, soft lighting, serene colours and gentle textiles to heighten the sensual experience.”

“As this was a larger property than the debut hotel, there was more space and scope to evolve the brand,” explain Holland Harvey Architects. “For example, the integration of the bar area as a central focus, which Southwick Street does not have; this is evolution not revolution, a continuation of ideas and the approach at a larger scale with continued research and development into materials, suppliers and narrative. Sustainability and social impact were at the forefront of decision making.”

Down in the subterranean wellness centre and treatment rooms – arguably the key player in a project so dedicated to this value – even the skeletal peloton bikes fit sleekly within the minimalist, Zen-inspired scheme. Never straying too far from this core styling, it poses a question as to whether the meditative relaxation spaces inspired the wider project or vice versa; perhaps the strongest sign this approach has been successful.

In guestrooms, this style is condensed into a harmonious residential sanctuary of pastels, tall windows that bathe the spaces in light and furnishings by Vitra and Innovation Living, whilst homeware pieces by ceramicist Freya Bramble Carter and refillable amenities by Skasdinavisk add detail. Adjacent bathroom spaces feature sinks by Kelham Island Concrete amidst more industrial-inspired leanings of black metal framed doors and Mosa Tiles. However, rounded edges serve to soften the scheme here, with the foundation of timber and green elements weaving everything back into the wider framework of wellness. “Wellness is all encompassing and we believe a guest’s experience with the design can impact their mood,”


“Like London, Scandinavian countries are dark and cold for over half of the year, yet they have bright, warm, inviting interiors,” Henderson notes. “Our goal was not to recreate a Scandinavian interior but reinterpret the warmth in a London setting.” Only in its second iteration, Inhabit’s London presence has already set out a signature style. At a time when the world needs a moment of relaxation more than ever, the evolution of the brand’s aesthetic – and so too the committed intention of its designers to marry their practice with good causes – makes for a notable presence in a market preoccupied with wellness to the point of overcrowding.

Above image: Spacious bathrooms encourage guests to linger

Client Inhabit Hotels Architect Holland Harvey Interior Designer Caitlin Henderson / Holland Harvey Flooring Mandarin Stone, Havwoods, Vicalvi, Casa Ceramica, In Opera Group, EGE Carpets Furniture Supplier Clippings Furniture Goldfinger Factory, Carl Hansen, Skagerak, Muuto, Benchmark, &Tradition, Stella Works, Another Country, Vitra, Sika Design, Resident, Pedralli, Open Desk, Loaf, Nanimarquina, The Contract Chair Company, Verges, Vitra, Innovation Living, Hill Cross Furniture, Utology

Surfaces Mosa, Domus, Arte, Surrey Marble & Granite Company Lighting Specifier There’s Light Lighting Tala, Lumart, Lucent, Vibia, Architectural FX, Le Klint, &Tradition, Oluce, POTT, Kalmar, Klaylife, Secto Design, Flos, Celine Wright, Lucepan Other Contra Curtains, Kvadrat, Casamance, Kelham Island Concrete, Granby Workshop, Sylvan Joiners, Utopia Projects, Assa Abloy


A Journey in Japan Case study: The Aubrey, Mandarin Oriental


Design studio Brady Williams offers a fantastical vision of the Orient at new Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park restaurant, The Aubrey. Words: Jenna Campbell

Photography: Steven Joyce


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The main Japonisme-inspired dining room at Aubrey Above image: The intimate bar area

Following almost two years of disruption, London’s restaurant scene appears to have found its footing again, giving rise to a plethora of boundary-pushing concepts. Few F&B openings this year have been as anticipated as The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Taking over the space formerly occupied by Bar Boulud, The Aubrey – described as an eccentric Izakaya, an upmarket take on a Japanese pub or tavern – was launched in the capital, following its successful debut within Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong early last year. The project marks the first UK venture for Maximal Concepts, the Hong Kong-based restaurant group behind much-loved Chinese restaurant collection Mott 32, who worked in collaboration with interior architecture and design studio Brady Williams to realise the interiors – which channel Japonisme, an artistic and aesthetic movement of the late 19th century. “The brief was very much to take the narrative from Hong Kong but then to develop it into a bespoke concept and design for Mandarin Oriental London. It


was not to be a roll-out – I liken it to the idea of it being a cousin as opposed to a twin sister,” reflects Shayne Brady, co-owner of Brady Williams Studio. “Combining Japonisme and quintessential Britishness was a smooth, fluid process. The original building was a gentlemen’s club, so what we wanted us to do as a team was imagine what those rooms would have been like then and how they may have evolved over time.” Taking its name from British illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley – who was inspired by Japanese woodcuts – the space nods to the artist’s decadent black ink drawings. “Travel at the turn of the century meant huge influences from Asia (what I often refer to in the studio as Oriental feminism), which has an influence on all European design, therefore layering the Japanese influence felt appropriate as opposed to contrived,” says Brady. “Eccentricity has been brought through the layout, material choice and art, which at times is provocative and titillating.”


Situated beneath the hotel, doors open onto a labyrinth of velvet, marble and wood, setting the scene for five distinct drinking and dining spaces, beginning with the wood-panelled main bar. “From the outset we knew that as you walked through the street entrance the sound of the bar should entice you in,” notes Brady. “A large standing bar to allow customers to stand around was essential, but I am also obsessed with bar dining, so we designed it to have four individual ledges or individual tables so that if you are sat at the bar, you would feel special and elevated. Meanwhile, a custom drinking ledge in Verde Pavone marble allows for larger groups to congregate.” From here, guests are invited to explore a series of interlinking rooms – the curio lounge, salon and library populated by furnishings and fixtures from the likes of 1stDibs, Noble Russell and Elephant Road Studios – which are illuminated by the soft glow of ambient lighting, curated by lighting design consultant Tim Henderson of Atelier Lighting.


Below image: The restaurant features an abundance of artwork

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Left image: Meticulously considered ambient lighting is central to the design

“The creation of the smaller individual rooms brings the entire design to life. Each room needed to feel as if it had been uncovered and then layered onto over time,” explains Brady. “We added reclaimed fireplaces to both the curio lounge and the library to create a sense of heritage and a continuation of detailing. Warm timber tones are the foundation stone to the entire design, on top of which sumptuous colour palettes have been added.”

Client Maximal Concepts and Mandarin Oriental

The Aubrey is also home to the city’s first omakase bar, a hidden-away room that can be found just off from the library. Translated as, ‘I will leave it to you’, the bar’s concept is built around the Japanese tradition of letting a chef or bartender choose for you.

Flooring London House Rugs

“Space was tight but we wanted it to feel truly Japanese in execution, therefore the beautiful custom bar allows for an intimate six to sit, while two-seat mini corner booths mean couples can soak up the atmosphere of the room,” notes Brady. Set within the warm hues of gold, green, plum and pink that embellish the various spaces, artwork inspired by the elegance of the Japonisme movement features heavily. Likewise, the spaces’ intimate nooks and enclaves feature intricate and detailed murals created by artist Michael May, alongside detailed wall coverings by Phillip Jeffries and bespoke joinery from Edmonds. “We worked really closely with Amy Walsh of Rock Paper Scissors,” adds Brady. “She created the most wonderful collection of art, print and accessories, which allowed for a really symbiotic expression of English traditional art, portraits, Japanese prints, lithographs, exquisite vases and ornaments, all adding a layered aesthetic to what feels a curated home.”


Architect Woods Hardwick Interior Designer BradyWilliams

Furniture Supplier Noble Russell, Stonix, 1st Dibs Vintage Sourced Surfaces Wfc, Michael May, Edmonds Joinery, Rock Paper Scissors Art Curation, Philip Jeffries Lighting Tim Henderson at Atelier Lighting, 1st Dibs Vintage Sourced, The Lighting Company Fabric Whistler Leather, Dedar, Altfield, GP&J Baker, Kirby, C&C Milano, Noblis Paris, Zoffany, Mark Alexander, Lizzo



Positive Impact with Ben Channon

Devil’s Advocate Architect and healthy buildings expert Ben Channon is a director at Ekkist and the author of Happy by Design and The Happy Design Toolkit. We tasked him to tackle common industry grumbles in our recurring feature exploring social, economic or environmental sustainability.

So firstly Ben, why does the industry need ‘healthy building consultants’? Don’t regulations make buildings healthy already? Well there’s definitely a temptation to think that if we build something to meet existing building regulations then it must be inherently healthy, but in reality there’s still a big gap between where the regs currently sit and what the latest science tell us about how buildings affect our health. One of the issues is that people are often unaware of such knowledge gaps, so may think they’re making a ‘healthy’ design decision – like specifying a more natural material such as plywood – without understanding that it may end up off-gassing harmful substances like ureaformaldehyde, for example. Building regulations still focus far more on the ‘safety’ part of health and safety, such as protecting people from falls, fire and the most dangerous materials like lead and asbestos. This is important of course, but ensuring safety should really be seen as a bare minimum. At the moment, simply sticking to the legal construction guidance won’t guarantee a truly healthy building. This is why we

recommend going above and beyond by using something like the WELL Building Standard which demands things like higher ventilation rates, better water quality and more stringent restrictions on toxic materials - not to mention considerations around designing for mental health and better social connection. This all sounds pretty expensive. Why would a developer pay more when funders and shareholders are expecting returns on investment? You’re right, it absolutely can be more expensive, although often not by as much as developers or funders might think. We typically see an increased build cost of somewhere between 0.5% and 4% when buildings target WELL, but obviously this can vary depending on how good their ‘baseline’ product was already and on which healthy building features they choose to target. However, we now have a growing body of evidence showing that people are prepared to pay more for healthy buildings, be they homes or offices, meaning that the wellbeing ROI more than covers its additional outset costs. Environmentally sustainable buildings no longer stand out from the crowd and some research is actually



showing that consumers are now putting health above sustainability in terms of desirable building features. With investors also making this a key part of their models via corporate ESG strategies, we’re nearing the point where the forces from the top and bottom of markets look likely to meet in the middle. We do, of course, have to be careful that this doesn’t simply become a second wave of greenwashing, so it absolutely must be done in a sincere and evidence-led way, which places even more value on certifications like the WELL Standard.

Fundamentally, designing buildings with a focus on wellbeing and comfort is actually all about helping people to do their work better, faster and happier – benefiting them and the company. It might even mean that one day we can all clock off at 4pm having delivered everything expected of us and more.

Nevertheless, because our understanding of how buildings affect health is evolving year on year, there is a real risk that by not considering these issues developers will end up with outdated or undesirable building stock on their hands, which could also potentially harm their brand. I’d argue therefore that the real question should be whether or not developers can afford not to invest in creating better, healthier buildings.

Well, it’s definitely true that some ‘healthy’ building systems require some energy use. Ventilation is a good example: if your child goes to school next to a busy city road, natural ventilation could be fairly detrimental to their health. Opening windows for ‘fresh’ air would mean they’d breathe in all kinds of nasties, from damaging particulate matter to Nitrogen Dioxide, the gas that was deemed by a judge in 2020 to have played a role in the tragic death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah.

Aren’t we all becoming a bit too fixated on employee wellbeing and comfort? Have we forgotten that people go to work to…work?

The alternative is to use a mechanical ventilation system with high grade HEPA or MERV filters, which, of course, does require energy use and often gets a bad rap as a result. However, in the UK if we need to open windows, we’ll probably also need to turn up the heating. This requires energy too, but instead of coming from cleaner electric sources like your MVHRs, heating is still likely to be gas-powered, which does more damage to the planet. This all just goes to show that it’s not as black and white as ‘mechanical bad, natural good’.

Well, again, the idea that looking after staff wellbeing means reducing their output and giving them an easy ride is a misunderstanding of the situation. It’s not all about putting in pool tables or allowing staff to turn up at 10am and clock off at 4pm – although, side note, these may actually increase output, but that’s a conversation for another day. In fact, investing in healthier buildings will improve productivity; reduce staff turnover; enhance creativity; decrease sick days; and encourage better relationships with colleagues and clients to name but a few benefits. There are many, many more. Employee mental health problems, for example, result in around 70 million lost workdays each year, working out at roughly £2.4 billion in costs to UK businesses. As I’ve explored in both of my books, the built environment plays an enormous role in supporting good mental health or nudging us into poor mental health, so where we work is likely to have a significant impact on how we feel each day.

We’re in the midst of an environmental crisis – does all of this come at a cost to the planet?

When we drill down into it though, there are actually far more synergies than clashes between ‘healthy’ and ‘sustainable’ design approaches. Recycled materials, for example, are generally better for both people and planet, as are active means of commuting like cycling or walking and locally sourced organic foods. Ultimately, although we’re healthy building consultants not environmental consultants, we care passionately about both issues – not least because damage to the environment will have enormous negative impacts on human health too. Channon’s second book ‘The Happy Design Toolkit’ has just been released and explores ways in which we can design buildings that are better for our mental wellbeing.

Top image on

opposite page:

Panagram Office London by Buckley Gray Yeoman Bottom image on opposite page: Maggie’s Leeds by Heatherwick Studio



Good Design is People-centred In partnership with Invictus, we explored why fostering relationships is essential, charted our changing connections with commercial spaces and considered if design is ever successful if it doesn’t put people first.

Adam Childs Senior Associate

Clare Debney Associate

Gurvinder Khurana Director

Holly Hallam Managing Director

Luke Henry-Powell Interior Designer

Mark Darnbrough Commercial Sales Manager

May Fawzy Founder

Sheela Shukla Design Director

Smaro Kirmelidou Senior Project Architect


Woods Bagot

M Moser Associates

In partnership with




Words: Harry McKinley

MF Design






Our collection of design industry leaders were assembled at Brewhouse Yard, home to BDP and a late 19th century former brewery. Fitting, then, that a venue once designed to produce a social lubricant would play host to a discussion all about people – what influences us, what motivates us and what role the spaces we inhabit play in making us happier and more productive. And just as beer and the settings that trade in it have traditionally played a part in connecting us, so too does that role now fall on designers, as they grapple with the need to create workplaces centred on collaboration and hospitality destinations focused on community.

position at the global workplace design agency. After all, in order to better understand how designers design, it’s arguably essential to understand why they design.

“Of course, believe it or not, designers are also people,” quipped M Moser’s Gurvinder Khurana, who recently segued from running her own business into a director

For BDG’s Adam Childs, there’s immense joy to be found in the act and art of creation: “Making things, willing things into existence; the process of

“M Moser was founded by a woman and that was important to me,” continued Khurana. “I just don’t feel that there’s enough being done for diversity: for inclusive design and inclusive leadership. People need role models coming through. We have a young generation of women who need to know that it can be done and that it’s not out of their reach. I want to build a world for women and show them it’s possible.”

transforming nothing into something and being a part of that journey is hugely satisfying.”

in common, while also taking into account the areas in which we diverge?

As managing director at DesignLSM, Holly Hallam doesn’t consider herself a designer. “So what I really like doing is looking at a client’s main objective for a space and exploring how design can help influence that, from a commercial strategy perspective,” she explains. “I believe in moulding elements together to make a space live, breathe and work effectively.”

“Everyone’s happiness is different,” surmised HOK’s Luke Henry-Powell. “So, in many ways it means creating spaces that resonate differently with different people.”

Diversity, creativity and strategy: all pillars supporting the work of our speakers. Some of these themes they have in common, others are individual inspirations. To what degree then can design service that which we have

Continuing, SHH’s Smaro Kirmelidou posited it’s often easiest to start with commonalities and work from there. “We all have the same three needs,” she explained. “There’s the physical need to be warm, the second need is mental satisfaction and the third need is spiritual – not necessarily in a traditional sense, but in terms of how we express who we are, what our ethos is and how those subjects get reflected in a space.”


Of course, discussions around wellbeing in the workplace have, in recent times, been elevated. While it seems, in the UK at least, we’ve finally hit a turn off after two years hurtling along the COVID motorway, it hasn’t left us unchanged. Our ways of working are altered and power balances have shifted – it’s no longer enough to deliver workplaces that function, they should support; not enough that employees are productive, they should be fulfilled. These are not necessarily new conversations, but they have become more urgent in the almost post-pandemic age. But before considering the projects devised for others, it’s worth considering those devising the projects. Do happier designers ultimately deliver better design? “Working teams are just like any other relationship,” suggested MF Design’s May Fawzy. “It’s so important to work with people you like and share synergies with. Just like family or friends, no one wants to be in unhappy relationships. Happiness at work means freedom to express.” Agreeing, BDP’s Sheela Shukla jumped in: “That freedom to express and be confident is so important and an environment can also support that. A happy environment and happy designers definitely produce better designs.” Offering a more temperate perspective, Hallam emphasised the need for balance: “Because if it’s not balanced, you have no business. Anybody who goes into a job must, one would hope, understand that they’re there for a function and that if the business isn’t profitable, they don’t have a job. So COVID brought a positive disrupter in that people have actually just stopped and reset. Then again, it’s all very good sitting in a field in


the south of France with a laptop, but if your WiFi isn’t working, then it all falls down at that point.” For Clare Debney, Woods Bagot, flexibility is most effective and happiness-engendering when it’s coupled with personal choice. “It’s actually the choice that people value,” she explained. “We work from home two days a week and on the days we come into the office, there’s freedom to arrive and leave when you please, as long as you get your work done.” Of course, flexible modes of working and the ability to offer employees a greater degree of agency are also possible now, as Invictus’ Mark Darnbrough highlights, in a way they simply weren’t before. “My parents and grandparents worked in environments that would be hellish compared to how we work now. But they didn’t mind because that’s how it was and, actually, there wasn’t the technology to support anything else,” he said. “So they needed spaces designed for the 9-to-5, because that was the only way to do things.” In the space of two or so years, the 9-to-5 has gone from the backbone of the working world to a vaguely parochial idea. Today, few offices are expected to be occupied for the entirety of the working day, even fewer for the entirety of the working week. A change, then, in function. But what of form? In creating people-centred spaces – not just for today, but tomorrow – what can the world of hospitality teach the world of workplace, when it comes to designing for comfort and community? “There are workplaces that always prioritised productivity,” offered Childs, “because that was what was being asked for. The world has changed and the



two worlds of workplace and hospitality are starting to merge. One of the big things that workplace takes from hospitality is the comfort factor. Workplaces need to attract people back in, not force them. Bars, restaurants, those kind of social hubs, are becoming really important parts of the office. They’re the places where people come in after working remotely to connect.” Shukla saw another parallel in the overlapping of home and office: “To get people back, the workplace needs to be compelling. So, yes, we’re seeing more hospitality elements but it’s also interesting that, even as more and more people are setting up home offices, that the office itself needs to be more of a home.” To what degree the ‘homeification’ of the workplace is warranted, however, is a source of some debate. Fussball tables, informal breakout areas, rest nooks: all features of workplace design both pre and post-pandemic and, yet, to what degree are they actually utilised? In creating people-centred environments, to what extent are designers actually catering to human need? “The most successful projects I’ve worked on have been those with an emphasis on engagement,” said Debney. “We really asked what people needed. With breakout spaces, for example, it’s not that they don’t get used but that they’re sometimes unfit for purpose. It can’t just be a couple of desks and a sofa, it needs to consider how a particular team works together and it should be adaptable, it should include elements that make it function well for that team – even if it’s just having a pinup board.” For several of those at the table, a shift of culture is also required, with Shukla suggesting that employers need to trust their employees more if fussball during working hours is going to become a habit; with Darnbrough

noting that increasingly young management means more progressive practices becoming accepted; and with Khurana hoping that workplace design will become even more inclusive. “You can’t design by committee,” she said, “but you can design engaging with a wider group of people.” Fawzy emphatically agreed: “We don’t want some kind of designer democracy, but it has to work for everyone.” On the sea change in the design industry, HenryPowell noted that people-centred design doesn’t need to do anything other than what it says on the tin and, yet, this is perhaps more radical than it might seem. “For a long time people-centred design has actually been business-centred design,” he described. “We talk about wellness, but the workplace generally is quite degenerating for the human mind and body. So, right now, we’re looking at how environments can assist businesses when we really need to look at how to respond to the human psyche and body. We’re detached from the natural environment. Perhaps we need change on an even bigger scale.” With the Clerkenwell skyline now bathed in the glow of dusk, we turned to closing words. For all the discussion and shared ideas what, in the end, is the key to peoplecentred design? Well, for Darnbrough, it’s the need to develop meaningful relationships; for Kirmelidou translating a spiritual, emotional ethos into a tangible space; while, for Childs, it all comes down to doing good. “As designers, we’re incredibly lucky. We can make people’s days a little bit better and that’s hugely motivating. So, I think people-centred design is a desire: to want to make people’s lives that little bit better through your influence.”

In partnership with


Creative Thinking with Steve Gale

The Silicon Workplace A new car can contain 3,000 silicon chips, I can activate my washing machine via the internet, any smartphone has 10 times more processing power than the mainframe computer from my undergraduate days, but the brains of a building have not moved on much from a primitive desktop in a basement closet. Why has the digital revolution not yet reached as far as commercial real estate? Office buildings have never claimed to be digital artefacts, despite the hype about the occasional ‘intelligent’ building. As massive, expensive, immovable lumps that keep the weather out, they do not look like candidates for sharp-end technological innovation. Building value is mainly a function of location, size and kerb appeal – that can be appreciated from a distance, or at least in the entrance foyer. A finely tuned internal environment has rarely been a selling point. The distance between investor and occupant was always too great, so we often end up with an elegant vessel with lamentable technological performance, like an E-type Jag powered by a lawn mower engine. Now, however, we have the pandemic forcing both developers and occupiers to re-evaluate. They both want more information and control after two years of uncertainty and the opportunities for digital adoption are becoming clearer, as the cost comes down. The uncertain future demands a more responsive environment, which needs reliable data, analysis, and sophisticated control systems to create the desired conditions, and we can see the growing demand in two areas.

One is from employees who have new priorities after the long remote working experiment. They want to be reassured that their office is safe and that it can adapt to a new role of more hospitality and less workhouse, enjoying their consumer power borne of greater choice. The other fast growing demand area is the need for credible sustainability. Investors and tenants want to see action to reduce their carbon footprint to meet the growing ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) regulations, which force companies to demonstrate the precise measures they take, with numbers to back up results. No more greenwashing. Now we need our building management systems (BMS) to be infinitely more programmable and responsive. But, more than this, a whole range of sensors and detectors will connect to the BMS via a digital platform that users and managers can access for information and trends. Users will have real-time data that they can interact with, find colleagues, book facilities, check air quality and adjust conditions to suit their needs. Historic data will be available for analysis by managers to plan additional facilities, identify under-used space, visualise attendance patterns and conserve energy. The growing data lake will have applications not yet dreamt of, but which can only be developed if the data is gathered. But numerical data, however accurately recorded, is useless on its own. Any benefit can only come from intelligent insight. Real value will come from the analysis and the programming. That is when your office becomes a digital asset as well as a piece of real estate.

S teve G ale is head of business intelligence at M Moser Associates




Is safe thinking the enemy of good design?

In partnership with

In partnership with Specialist Group, we charted our industry’s catalysts for change, explored what it takes to create a needle-moving commercial interior and ask if the greatest asset in design is the courage to look beyond the conventional.

Words: Harry McKinley

Ben Boxshall Associate Director tp bennett

Campbell Lean Major Projects Divisional Director

Ciaran O’Hagan Managing Director

David Breckenridge Associate Director

Gary Bibby Partner

Helen Beresford Studio Head

Linzi Cassels Principal & Design Director

Sally Marshall Associate Director

Gardiner & Theobald




Specialist Group

Perkins & Will


Turner & Townsend



The design industry often talks of disruptors, both people and ideas. They’re radical and they’re controversial; they disrupt. In this though, there’s something of an unfortunate precept – that everything else is conventional, conformist and even unoriginal. But doesn’t design have a responsibility to lead, to affect change and, in some way, to challenge us? Then again, it’s arguably impossible to choose a new path, to make different choices or to innovate without an element of risk – and that’s one word the commercial interior design industry does not enjoy. From our roundtable rooftop vantage point, at Clerkenwell’s Fora, it was possible to see the Grade II listed towers of the Barbican Estate. Among the most famous examples of Brutalist architecture in the UK, they are as loved as they are despised – an example of progressive creative choices that created monumental ripples, and which live in history as a result. Against that backdrop, we asked whether our collected industry leaders consider themselves the type of people who believe in taking risks.

“I am,” said TP Bennett’s Ben Boxshall. “But as human beings I think we’re inherently risk averse and it’s part of my role to counteract that. As a designer, it’s my place to challenge that and create a conversation around what it means to make risky choices.” For ISG’s Campbell Lean, the room to takes risks is essential in an industry centred on creating. “We need to push the boundaries to produce amazing spaces,” he opined. “Especially in project management, pushing the boundaries is the only way to create something different. That being said, there’s room for balance. For all the risk takers in this industry, it’s important to have those who pull you back if you go too far; it’s all about the yin and yang.” And if Campbell is the yin, then Gardner & Theobald’s Gary Bibby is the yang: “A risk taker? Absolutely not. But it’s important to say that I think most of my clients would expect me not to be a risk taker. It’s right that the designers amongst us are, but it’s important to have both sides of the coin.”


Of course, in discussing risk as a route to innovation, it’s useful to understand what true innovation looks like to those in different pockets of the industry. For Linzi Cassels, Perkins & Will, it’s more than just new ideas. “There has to be a reason,” she explained. “You have to ask what the energy driving something in a certain direction is and, equally, that direction should be forward. It’s difficult to sum up, but new ideas should be taking us to a better place and ultimately bringing some elevated level of comfort, joy, beauty or function, or there’s no reason to have them.” Turner & Townsend’s Sally Marshall was in fervent agreement. “We’ve all got good companies,” she said, “so innovation is the differentiator. If we’re not pushing boundaries, we won’t win work; if we’re not moving forward, we’re not competitive in the market.”


“And it’s by necessity about challenging the status quo,” continued Gleeds’ David Breckenridge. “Convention is safe, innovation is uncomfortable and uncertain. There’s sometimes that feeling in your gut of, ‘should I be doing this?’ and I think that’s where innovation sits.” Yet, innovation, along with terms like authenticity and originality, have been coopted by big business to the extent that they have perhaps become stripped of their genuinely disruptive meaning. It’s something Helen Beresford, ID:SR, riles against. “Isn’t innovation now tied up with corporate speak? It’s listed on most people’s website. But does it actually mean what it’s meant to? I think for our industry, it’s important that we look at innovation in a real sense. For me, when you get a really good creative team, you almost need to throw open the doors and have them

go and play and get messy. There’s a sort of alchemy that happens then. And it doesn’t always need to be revolutionary, because I think reinterpreting is also important, even in more subtle ways. Every time you do a piece of work, it’s never the same because the client and the ingredients aren’t the same. There’s always just something slightly different that happens in terms of your solution.” For Specialist Group’s Ciaran O’Hagan, it all comes down to efficiencies and improving lives: “Just making something a little bit leaner is, itself, a positive. Thinking about buildings and spaces specifically, that could be how you park your car or where you hang your clothes.” “Exactly, it doesn’t have to be a large innovation,” Bibby shot back. “Sometimes you’re just looking for that little extra nugget that is a way of doing things differently that adds value.”

If creative thinking is risky, then, it’s because there’s also the potential of a flop; the chance that a brave idea may simply not work. But should fear of failure – both individually and on behalf of a client – be a barrier to trying the previously untried? “We take our biggest risks when pitching,” said Cassels, “whether it’s for work or design competitions and, believe it or not, it’s often where the biggest innovations take place, because even if we don’t win, we’ve challenged ourselves. I’ve had a few that completely bombed.” Of course, ‘untried’ is a moveable concept and, in an industry often fixated on referencing that which has come before, is anything ever really new? “Look at Dubai,” exclaimed Lean. “Everyday there’s something new. I’ve always admired the steps that have


been taken in a place like that because, though they’re fortunate to have the money to do it, everyday they’re pushing things; everyday they’re challenging things.”

you might call ‘boring things’ for granted but perhaps they’re not actually boring, we’ve just become accustomed to them. We could say the same thing about design.”

“Yet design here is sometimes lazy,” continued Beresford. “Looking at social media is almost gluttonous; it becomes too easy to just pull some images from Pinterest of some seductive fantasy that has nothing to do with the real-world parameters of a project.”

“Plus change and innovation will be dictated by necessity,” noted Breckenridge, “If something looks great but is destroying the planet then it isn’t good design; it isn’t doing its job. As for boring, well just track the trajectory of humanity. We’ve created cities filled with towers made from synthetic materials. You just need to look out of the window to see what innovation has created over the past couple of hundred years and, yet, is a building boring?”

“Not just gluttonous, but dangerous,” replied Marshall, “as it means there’s always a sense of looking back at what’s been done before.” For Cassels, social media is sometimes a force at odds with creativity and invention: “It’s sucking away our creativity. Since we’ve had the ability to use Pinterest and Instagram, some design has become a bit lethargic and, yes, lazy, because it’s fed to us. But should anyone really want to go to a client with someone else’s ideas off Pinterest? Let’s start drawing and stop looking, because that’s where the magic happens.” But for all the talk of safe thinking in contrast to risk and innovation, is there the danger that the pursuit of novelty could leave effective, established practice or design behind for insubstantial gains: does creativity always need to challenge? After all, is boring bad if it works? “Well, a spoon could be regarded as boring and yet everyone uses one,” said Boxshall. “So we can take what

Certainly the towers of the Barbican are not – or The Gherkin or the Walkie Talkie – all visible just beyond the neat roof terrace; a testament to risk, innovation and anything but safe thinking. As the conversation draws to a close, our guests are challenged to offer their big idea for the future. For Beresford, it’s ‘radical authenticity’; for Bibby it’s more creative use of BIM (building information modelling); and for Lean it’s anything that helps the industry fall in line with the Net Zero agenda. O’Hagan proffered a different idea: “Well, there’s never been a time when individuals have had more freedom here to express themselves and be who they are, and that’s fantastic. If only that could spread and we could have more peace, love and tolerance.” Now isn’t that a risky idea.

In partnership with



Meet the Mixology22 Judges Event: Mixology22

Your Mixology Awards entries are in and our influential panel of judges are already choosing the finalists and winners, ready to be revealed at the 2022 Awards, taking place on 23rd June at Evolution London. This year’s panel of judges comprises key players from across the full spectrum of interior design, including leading architects, consultants, operators, developers and end users.

Mark Bell Director International Business Operations Adobe

Bell has an impressive CV with 20 years’ experience working at some of the world’s leading media and technology companies, such as BBC, Facebook and most recently Adobe, where he is director of international business operations covering the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Japan and Asia Pacific. Before moving into business operations, Bell built up extensive experience in corporate real estate and is passionate about architecture and workplace design – in particular how the built environment can integrate with technology to improve both the employee experience and business performance.


Benita Byrne Associate Director Faithful+Gould

Byrne has extensive experience in project management, working on a diverse range of projects as a trusted advisor for clients – from new build data centres to office fit-out and high-end refurbishment. Her greatest joy is in leading large, complex and technical projects with multiple stakeholders, that transform working environments for people and businesses. She is part of the Faithful+Gould Technical Leadership Group for Project Management, leading groups drawn from across the UK to develop and share best practice, innovation and market insights.

Mira Dabkova Property Strategy Manager BUPA

Mira Dabkova is a commercial surveyor with a specific focus on global transactions. She has worked in the industry for over 16 years. Dabkova joined Bupa in 2016, where she manages workplace and estate activity for the company’s Global and UK portfolio. Her recent responsibility had been for project and programme management across APAC, before she turned her attention to Bupa’s Property Sustainability and Climate Change Risk Management, which demands her current focus. She has a keen eye for smart design that supports wellbeing and sustainable platforms.

Jennie Fotjik Head of Mobilisation Quintain Living

Fojtik is head of mobilisation (working in Build to Rent) for Quintain – a leading national property investment and development organisation. She has been involved since the set-up of the department in 2015, where her role was formerly Head of Leasing. Fojtik leads the business on the mobilising of new plots in Wembley Park, ensuring the developments are operational and lease-ready for the Quintain Living team. Key responsibilities include the procurement and installation of FF&E and she also oversees the defects management team, which manages all warranty related build issues, post project completion. Fojtik joined Quintain in 2008 to establish Quintain’s legacy rental business, Wembley Park Residential.


Des Gunewardena CEO D&D London

Gunewardena was born in Sri Lanka and has lived in London for most of his life. In the mid 1980s he was responsible for financial planning at property conglomerate Heron International, before joining design entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran in 1991 as his business partner and CEO. In 2006 Gunewardena, as its chairman and CEO, led a buyout of Conran Restaurants (now D&D London), a luxury restaurant group that owns and operates over 40 venues in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Paris and New York. D&D also owns South Place, an 80-bedroom luxury hotel in the City of London.

Eric Jafari Chief Development Officer and Creative Director edyn

Eric Jafari leads edyn’s pan-European real estate development platform and the broad creative direction of its brands. He was one of the original co-founders of Locke – the award-winning aparthotel group – and today his multi-disciplinary team comprises acquisitions, asset management, construction, design, investment finance and planning. Jafari previously served as the managing director of Union Hanover Securities, where he founded Urban Villa and oversaw a £500m hotel development platform.

Rekha Mistry Director of Real Estate

BNP Paribas Real Estate

Mistry has over 20 years’ industry experience working in the corporate occupier and commercial end user sector, managing a wide range of workplace transformation projects of varying degrees of complexity. As a qualified architect, Mistry enjoys being part of the creative design process, working closely with consultants and contractors to help ensure her client’s vision and business needs are met. She’s particularly invested in delivering innovative, workplace solutions that contribute to business growth and the wellbeing of the people that use them.


Colin Wood Director Colliers

Wood has over 20 years’ experience working in the commercial office sector, helping to deliver innovative and functional spaces where people can thrive. He is a cost management specialist and enjoys being part of the creative design process. As the head of occupier cost management for Colliers UK, he is helping to deliver successful workspaces for clients that facilitate their users delivering great things.

Mark Simpson Principal and Head of Workplace BDP

Simpson is a designer with extensive experience gained from over 30 years in the design industry. He began his professional career at BDP in 1985 before co-founding Amalgam in 2003. He returned to BDP in 2011 and was appointed to the BDP board in 2017. He is the chair of BDP’s Design division and head of workplace. Simpson writes regularly for the design press and has chaired the judging panel for the Mixology Awards since their inception in 2005.

Professor Charles Spence Professor Oxford University

Professor Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscienceinspired multisensory design. He has worked with some of the world’s largest companies since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University. Prof. Spence has published 15 books and has been awarded numerous national and international prizes for scientific excellence, including the 10th Experimental Psychology Society Prize, the British Psychology Society: Cognitive Section Award, the Paul Bertelson Award and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award.


Mix 30 under 30 Call for entries Tomorrow’s future design leader - does this sound like someone you know? The Mix 30 under 30 is an annual list of remarkable individuals who are driving forward the commercial interior design world today, bringing them together to celebrate their achievements with a night of drinks and networking. Since its launch in 2015 the Mix 30 under 30 has created a dynamic community within the industry, supporting and elevating the next generation of talent and providing design studio principals and directors with the opportunity to publicly recognise stars in their teams. Over the last two years these designers have defied the odds more than ever before – navigating a global pandemic and the accelerated reshaping of priorities across interior design. “Being nominated was a great confidence boost for me,” says Class of 2018 nominee Nasim Köerting – now head of design at The Office Group. “It meant I was being noticed for the work I was doing and that’s a huge thing for a young designer. It was also a great opportunity to meet other young designers in my field who were passionate and driven. “It’s super important to spotlight young talent as they are the ones building the future and creating change. The younger generations are the real change-makers who have the ability to evolve the way we approach and think about design. It is about honouring that and pushing them forward. It shows them that their hard work is valued and seen.”

Headline Sponsor


Thank you to headline sponsors and host Senator and Allermuir, and sponsors Amtico and Hunters for their support. “Senator/Allermuir are delighted to be supporting this years’ 30u30 event,” comments Senator Director Mike O’Neill. “We understand that at every level, especially in the early stages of a person's career, building selfconfidence and giving recognition is vital to fostering a dynamic and forward-thinking industry. Our highlight of last year’s event was witnessing so many young designers all in the same place creating new relationships.” Nominations for the Class of 2022 are now open – to nominate a colleague fill out the online form at mixinteriors.com/events/30-under-30 before 14 April 2022.


The Global Perspective with Harry McKinley

The Saudi Question It’s early evening in Jordan as I write, the still waters of the Dead Sea reflecting a falling sun in the distance. MEA’s hotel design community has flocked to the Kempinski Ishtar for a few days of networking and conversation at a leading design forum. It’s a diverse bunch: designers from the skyscraper-filled Dubai rubbing along with those from the cacophonous Kenyan capital or genteel Copenhagen – a mix of Europe based teams heading up Middle Eastern projects and natives. Yet, for the myriad different perspectives and nationalities represented, there’s a common topic of chat: Saudi Arabia. For those in the design industries, both regional and global, it’s an area of immense fixation – considered a promised land of sorts, ripe with potential projects; a wellspring of prospective work. The numbers are staggering. As part of its Vision 2030 programme, Saudi aims to attract a whopping 100 million visitors annually within the next 8 years. Some forecasts have it leading the world’s hotel development pipeline, with over 73,000 new rooms on the cards and already underway – that batch set to be completed in the next two to three years. And though the bulk of immediate growth is in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, there are also the much-vaunted megaprojects: the Red Sea development, sustainable city Neom and ultra-luxury tourist destination, Amaala. Red Sea alone is spread over an extraordinary 28,000 km sq and is expected to deliver 50 new hotels by its completion. The likes of IHG, EDITION Hotels, Fairmont and Grand Hyatt are onboard for Phase One. Neom is expected to welcome guests at its first hotel

by year’s end and wants to attract 5 million of them by 2030. It’s pretty fitting that Amaala’s name, then, is derived from the Arabic word for ‘hope’, considering it’s hope that all of this grand ambition is built upon. But how solid a foundation is hope and sand? When it comes to the desert kingdom, there appears to be an attitude of ‘if we build it, they will come’, but for a nation where gambling is illegal, this seems a titanic roll of the dice. It’s generally accepted that the prohibition on alcohol will be softened to allow visitors a cocktail on the terrace, but it hasn’t happened yet; there are justifiable questions around human rights and the country’s politics, and rumours that greater liberalisation is on the cards, but it hasn’t happened yet, or at least to an extent that would make it a moot point; and then there’s an assumption that international curiosity about a country hitherto ‘closed’ will fuel a mass-audience appetite to visit. That arguably hasn’t happened yet either. So, ultimately, how safe a bet is Saudi? Well, there’s obviously precedent if we turn our attention to its Gulf neighbour, the UAE. There’s no doubting that Dubai is a hospitality success story – a juggernaut of design and development born out of a fishing village. There have been a few mega-project misfires, but the ratio of big swings to big hits is generally high. So perhaps Saudi doesn’t need to reach every goal to deliver. If even a fraction of its hotel pipeline comes to fruition, it could still be one of the most dynamic hospitality development regions in the world; still enough to give every designer in the room something to be excited about.


Flexi-time Property

The UK flex workspace sector is on the brink of a massive shakeup. David Thame spoke to two fast-growing operators about who will prosper, how and whether some will go to the wall. Words: David Thame

Is now a good or a very bad moment to be launching new high-concept flexible workspace? Mark Gregson, founder and chief executive at Impact Working, hopes the answer is that this is a good moment. Impact’s debut hub in Bristol opened in November and as many as 10 more will follow. It’s a brave move. After a pandemic that saw dozens of smaller serviced and flexible workspace operators go out of business – and others hang by a thread – the sector is in a twitchy mood. There’s clearly scope for expansion as hesitant office occupiers opt for flex space as an alternative to expensive and onerous traditional leases. Expansion in London and the regions is already underway, some of it thanks to landlords creating their own-brand operations: Grosvenor has launched a very flex office offer called 25EP and Land Securities plans to expand its Myo brand from two units to six. And yet operators confess that their margins are squeezed and their business models under pressure. Some familiar names will not make it to New Year 2023. Gregson insists Impact will still be here next year and for years to come. “We’re planning to open in six locations over the next three years, but we’re beginning to think we might accelerate that programme,” he says. “We’re about to go into legals on four new sites and we’re now looking at a total of eight to 10 locations.” Each location will be an average of 20-25,000 sq ft, room enough for 350-450 desks. Around 25% of the footprint will be allocated to common areas, gyms, and breakout spaces. Design, layout and location will borrow from


the hospitality sector and respond to a new mood in the workplace, says Gregson. Above all, occupiers want to align their values with the values of the flex workspace operator (and vice versa). The way flex hubs look and feel is going to be a big part of this, he says: “Every surface, from walls to carpet to furniture, has a code so you can scan and live the story on sustainability. You don’t have to take our word for it and you can see that we’re not just greenwashing,” says Gregson. Design clichés are out. “Ours isn’t the most glamorous space [fit outs are £70-90 a sq ft] but we’re trying to be better than anyone else at the values we profess,” Gregson says. Huckletree, the funky flex operator founded by Gaby Hersham, is also planning expansion. But Hersham confesses how fragile the sector can sometimes feel. “Our ambition is to grow at quite a rate this year. We think there’s an appetite for the curated office ecosystems we offer,” says Hersham, speaking of Huckletree’s policy of creating clusters of like-minded businesses wherever possible. Charities, fintech and venture capital all have Huckletree hubs so far. The ambition is to grow from a 200,000 sq ft portfolio to around 1 million sq ft by 2025. Hubs will also get larger. “Our largest today is 50,000 sq ft at White City, and we want to push that higher,” says Hersham.“We’re at nearly 90% occupancy over the group, up from about 65% during lockdown, but we were discounting prices then, so there’s been a much larger uptick in revenue.”

Left image: Huckletree, Soho

That revenue streams are back is a big relief to many small but ambitious flex operators. But the mathematics are tricky. WeWork’s unhappy attempt to list on the Stock Exchange in 2019 was followed by a massive restructuring. Nobody wants to repeat their mistake of signing up for huge leasehold liabilities which couldn’t be repaid. For now, landlords are prepared to offer flex space operators easy terms and incentives. But they aren’t happy – they want to cut the incentives and would prefer to let offices to somebody else – and don’t like signing management agreements. The moment the economy picks up some landlords will drop serviced offices like a red hot brick. That is why operators like Huckletree know their opportunity to expand is time-limited – and time is running out. “We’ve got to jump now,” says Hersham. They also know that reproducing the lazy design clichés of flex workspace – blonde wood, mid-century styling – will no longer cut it with occupiers. “You walk into our hubs and there has to be a surprise factor – though not the exactly same surprise in each one. It also has to be efficient, so we leverage the same designers and suppliers, with the aim that they all look different and offer different things, whether that’s a meditation yurt or a brain-dump studio full of lightboards so customers can map things out,” says Hersham. But in this challenged, complicated and heavily fragmented market, there are going to be casualties. The smaller operators – and those who experience simple bad luck – will not last, says Hersham.


“Mergers and acquisitions are something we’re aware of. We’ve been approached a few times by buyers. We had conversations only this morning with a big operator who wants to scoop up some smaller operators, because a lot of smaller occupiers are going through a really tough time and want out, which I totally understand,” she says. For Huckletree, the medium-term prospect is more as a buyer of other smaller operators, than a sale of its business to someone else. But longer term, who knows? “It is really easy to let your operational costs skyrocket and end up with buildings than never break even, let alone deliver the margins you want. We look for 20-25% and it’s amazing how quickly and easily you can turn those margins to zero or negative. It only takes a few members leaving, costs rising and you’re there,” says Hersham. Amy Taylor is head of flexible office advisory at property consultant Cushman & Wakefield. Her job is to help office occupiers into the flexible office space that suits them best and that makes her an ideal spectator on the triumphs and potential tragedies operators face. Taylor says that sustainability concerns are now dominating occupiers’ minds – and that flex operators that fail to address these issues will face trouble.

Taylor agrees there will be many mergers and acquisitions during 2022 as a muddled market consolidates around fewer, larger operators. The large operators are already preparing themselves. IWG is bringing its post-COVID, neighbourhood-focused coworking format, Spaces OpenDesk, to the UK from California. Birmingham will see its first 50,000 sq ft outing, providing more flexibility – and privacy – than the standard product. Visible high street locations will be a priority. The other big players are also on the offensive. The Office Group has 300,000 sq ft of new floorspace in the immediate pipeline, whilst WeWork has announced a deal to work with coworking aggregator platform Uplex, which adds 4,800 third-party spaces provided by over 700 flexspace operators, to the shared network. This represents a real challenge to IWG. At the same time independent operators face mighty risks. “The harsh reality is one big occupier pulling out of a flex office hub and operators may have to close the whole hub. So for independent operators everyone is on the line when an occupier renews their contract or a deadline approaches. That’s quite sad,” says Taylor. The next 12 months are going to be a rollercoaster ride of the flex sector: the best advice is, hang on tight.

Below image: Impact Working, Bristol


Material Matters The stuff projects are made of: our industry expert’s picks

Maria Cheung is director and head of

interior design at Squire & Partners. Cheung works closely with a network of in-house departments, overseeing the studio’s design direction.


Natural stone Natural stone is a material that we use time and time again for bathrooms, kitchens and feature joinery. It can be very sustainable, particularly if sourced from local quarries, and if installed with foresight it can be reused. Stone can have so many different textures and finishes applied, which changes the touch and feel of the material. We embraced this with our Stone Tapestry installation for Surface Design Show 2022, where we highlighted innovative applications and the reuse of stone. Tramazite by Based Upon Tramazite is an incredible bespoke material created by Based Upon – made from resin infused with metals and coloured pigments. These materials are hand-worked in multiple layers, as a contemporary interpretation of ancient lacquering techniques. It has incredible depth and visual appeal. We used it for our own office reception desk and most recently at the mixed-use Lancer Square development in Kensington, to create a swimming pool feature wall that evokes a feeling of nature.

Printed plywood by Squire & Partners When we reimagined The Department Store into our offices, we uncovered striking floor finishes such as original teak parquet flooring and a mosaic threshold. Inspired by the mosaics, we looked to construct beautiful thresholds throughout the building, in a cost effective way. Using patterns designed by Eley Kishimoto inspired by the building, we experimented with reprographic printing onto plywood. This technique retains the grain and texture of the timber and can be used as a surface finish for anything if protected with coats of lacquer. Velvet Rich velvets, such as Kvadrat’s Balboa range by Sahco, have great acoustic absorption, immediately make a space feel warm and add luxury and softness. We love the way that the fabric moves in the light and have been using it in the cinema spaces of our recent projects, as well as in a recent installation as a surface to display stone objects upon.


The Final Word with Mike Walley

We thought it would be simple. After successfully working from home during the pandemic, we asked our people if they would like the option to work from home more often. 95% our workforce answered the survey and 85% of those who answered, said yes. We commissioned a group to review the global legal, tax and financial issues this would create, and then write the policy. This they did and soon we were all set. Workforce consulted? Yes. Policy written? Yes. Major re-design of global offices? Yes. So, what’s the problem? Well, the team at the top love the plan as we can reduce our portfolio footprint and rent costs, whilst creating amazing offices for when people want to come in. The team at the bottom love it as it allows them to create a new work / life balance and reduces the stresses around commuting. It’s some of the managers in the middle who are having trouble. Managers having trouble fall into two categories: the lost and the blind. Take a thirtysomething sales manager as an example. They grew up in a world of Monday morning pep talks, performance matching against teammates, ringing the bell on every sale and Friday roundups with a beer in the local. These were the tools used to drive and manage a sales team. When they were promoted, they knew how it worked and they were ready. Then came COVID and everything they knew was swept away.

Asking them to manage a team that doesn’t come to the office every Monday and Friday and generating the energy required to close a deal without any of the tools and techniques they grew up with, leaves them lost. Then there are those who seem to think, in the words of the marvellous Douglas Adams, it is a SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem). They are proud to work within progressive companies doing great things with working policies and offices. But when it comes to operating within this world they just carry on as usual, looking hurt and bewildered when no one turns up for the Monday meeting, when people get cross when asked to drop everything and come to the office or when they keep resigning to go and work for other tech firms. They think the policy is a great idea, but simply cannot see how it is workable for their team. Education is key, I hear you say. But I am not convinced. When computers first made it into the workplace, there were those who embraced the technology (with varying levels of success admittedly) and there were those who never made the leap. They were dinosaurs, unable to evolve. They moved on, to companies that didn’t use computers and finally…died out. I believe we are at a moment as significant as the computerisation of the workplace and we are going to see a seismic shift in the workforce. Those who get it will flourish, the rest, I am afraid, will simply die out.

M ike W alley is Senior Director of Global Real Estate & Workplace Strategy at C riteo


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