Issue 223 11/12 2022
Mix Interiors Issue 223 32
Desert Island Desks
In conversation with: Goddard Littlefair
News and highlights from the world of commercial interior design
Oktra’s Design Director Ian Mitchell lays out his desert island essentials
Neil Usher explores the efficiency of physical workspace in 2022 and beyond
The design studio’s founding duo reflect upon creativity, purpose and their decade of existence
In conversation with: i/o atelier
Case Study: 280 Bishopsgate, London
Steven Charlton on how data can create a more meaningful human experience
Tina Norden considers the subjectivity of modern luxury
MoreySmith’s redesign of 280 Bishopsgate connects Spitalfields and Shoreditch with the City
Case Study: Wembley A rk , London
Case Study: W Dubai Mina Seyahi
Case Study: Battersea Power Station, London
Co-living brand Ark unveils its first property in North London’s Wembley Park
Designers Stickman Tribe and BLINK draw from a legacy of storytelling and folk history at Dubai’s new Arabian hotel
London’s former electricity station and landmark sees a new lease of life
Positive Impact: The Color Authority
Judith van Vliet discusses the role colour plays in creating more positive spaces and experiences
Creative Thinking: Identity versus function
M Moser Associate’s Steve Gale on why functionality goes beyond office equipment
Mix Interiors Issue 223 50
Art in Hospitality
Mix Roundtable in Partnership with Amtico
Three art curation agencies give insight into the power art has in guiding our experience in a space
Loveable living: can BTR build community?
Events: Mixology North22
The Year That Was
Events: Surface Design Show
The Global Perspective
Material Matters: Rhonda Drakeford
Winning moments celebrating the best in commercial interior design
A look back on 2022’s landmark projects, products and events
Emerging talent, industry leaders and 180 exhibitors come together to kickstart 2023’s A&D event calendar
Questions surround the role China will play in future commercial plans
Why department store redevelopment could mean something for everybody
The founder and creative director of Studio Rhonda shares her four go-to materials
The final word
Discover Solidwool, a unique composite material made from British wool
Criteo’s Mike Walley on the limitations surrounding hybrid working
Get in touch Managing editor Harry McKinley email@example.com Deputy Editor Chloé Petersen Snell firstname.lastname@example.org Business Development Manager Kate Borastero email@example.com Account Manager Stuart Sinclair firstname.lastname@example.org Account Manager Jackie Grant email@example.com Head of Operations Lisa Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org Events & Editorial Executive Yasmin Waters email@example.com
The Cover Logo
We’re thrilled to be involved in this edition’s cover with Johnson Tiles. The primary inspiration is from a Matisse artwork that is very abstract and loose with the placement and arrangement of shapes. The letters to create ‘MIX’ are bold and straight edged which links well with the bold and straight edged nature of the tiles. The lettering is not obvious in the design to intentionally complement the characteristics of Matisse’s artworks.
As its name demonstrates, Vivid celebrates bright colours from burnt orange to deep teal. Effortlessly delivering on character and individuality, Vivid is perfect for brightening a design with its striking colour palette. The detailing of a subtle pinstripe brings this range to life even more. johnson-tiles.com
Marketing & Communications Executive Neve McDermott firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Director Leon March email@example.com Director Marcie Incarico firstname.lastname@example.org Designer Tamzin Bell
Founding publisher Henry Pugh columnists
Steve Gale, David Thame Tina Norden, Mike Walley, Neil Usher, Chiara Vascotti contributors
Issue 221 07/08 2022
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Printed by S&G Print ISSN 1757-2371
Mix Interiors / Issue 223
This issue straddles two periods: the end of one year and the beginning of another. In that sense it also represents two ideas: reflection and ambition. On the former, it’s been a seminal and shaping year for the Mix Media brand – one that has seen us step out from under the harsh shadow of COVID, with a renewed sense of vision and vigour. Our team has grown, our flagship print title has evolved to better reflect the commercial interior design landscape and – across the board – we’ve elevated our offer to ensure we remain at the forefront of this sector, having been so for almost two decades. But then there’s the ambition. As we look ahead at the year to come, our work is not done. We have audacious plans to grow our online footprint and further reach audiences in the digital sphere; bolster our industry-leading events programme; and explore how we can continue to give a platform to the brightest people and boldest brands, be they established or emerging, through new forms of content. In this issue, reflection comes through our interview with the founders of Goddard Littlefair, as they reminisce on category-defining projects on the 10-year anniversary of the studio. We look back also at Mixology North22, in a special spread recounting the winners, with photography from one of commercial interior design’s most dazzling annual highlights. And in our ‘the year that was’ feature, we remember some of the highpoints from 2022 across people, products and events; a year that was seismic in terms of recovery. The ambition, then, we see in our case studies, from the landmark Battersea Power Station project, where an icon of London has been reimagined as a multipurpose retail, residential and entertainment destination, breathing new life into this stretch of the Thames, to the W Dubai Mina Seyahi, which tells a tale of the Gulf city’s enormous advancement. It’s in our roundtable discussion with Amtico, where we discuss the role BTR can play in building a community, a pioneering model that could revolutionise urban living. And it’s encapsulated in our interview with i/o atelier co-founder and CEO, Steven Charlton, in which he discusses using data to create more meaningful human experiences. So all that remains to be said, on behalf of all at the Mix team, is cheers to the year that was and here’s to the year ahead. Harry McKinley Managing Editor
Montacute Yards is the latest addition to Fora’s growing portfolio of co-working spaces, in London’s Shoreditch. Seven stories of people-focused workspace now reside above a pocket of eateries and shops, including a new-arrival street food market. Montacute caters to businesses of all sizes and, in the standard Fora design, there are options to inhibit entire private floors, or simply opt for individual desks. Each workspace features 3GB superfast, fibreoptic broadband, custom data networks and Wi-Fi infrastructure, plus light-flooded workspaces, and bestin-class air quality. A tailored option is also available for businesses who require a more dynamic workspace. With this option Fora will work with brands to curate a space that meets specific requirements – whether that be to put
a focus on teamwork, create quiet places of focus, or more opportunities to present. Mental health platform Unmind opted for the tailored solution, honing in on teamwork as staff returned to the office post-pandemic. Businesses who live within will benefit from discounted event space, 24/7 access, free monochrome printing and bike storage and wellness facilities for the more health conscious. Day-to-day management of the building and technology within will also be taken into hand, enabling organisations to primarily focus on what is important to them. With a five-star concierge service upon arrival, lavish showers and kitchens stocked with complimentary tea and coffee, Montacute is a hub of productivity with a focus on the finer details. foraspace.com
The Alberton, Bruntwood
Planning has been approved for Bruntwood’s new Manchester City Centre work and leisure destination, The Alberton, set to complete towards the end of 2025. With works to begin early 2023, the approval marks the evolution of the firm’s Pioneer offering, as the building’s ‘workplace revolutionised’ ethos embeds holistic wellbeing further into daily working lives. Designed by EPR Architects and occupying the historic site of Manchester’s first gas works, The Alberton reflects the city’s industrial past, seen throughout the building’s architecture.
The current Alberton House on St. Mary’s Parsonage will be replaced by 18 stories of workspace, leisure, hospitality and wellness facilities, housing the UK’s highest workspace pool. The project takes a people-centric approach, representing Bruntwood’s aim to attract new businesses and talent to the city while also encouraging further inward investment. As the first of its kind in the UK office market, The Alberton’s focal point is its rooftop holistic wellness centre – which is to include a performance lap pool, a hydrotherapy vitality pool, hot and cold treatment rooms, physio room, plus changing and shower facilities. thealberton.co.uk
Flamboyant yet understated in design, the Work Tent Collection by Steelcase brings organic shapes and sheer textiles together to create a privacy solution for workspaces. Produced in collaboration with world-class tent designer Chris Pottinger, the concept behind the collection is much the same as a tent found in the great outdoors. Rooted in the human need for safety, protection and shelter, Steelcase has radicalised the essence of a tent by turning it into a comforting office accessory. Supported by studies at the University of Wisconsin, research from Steelcase’s design team found visual distractions to often be more disruptive than noise in busy working spaces. The result with the collection is a series of colours that veer away from bright and boisterous, instead favouring muted tones to instil a sense of calm.
Available in three lightweight options, buyers can choose between the freestanding Boundary Tent, the shielding Table Tent and the Pod Tent, a structure inspired by London’s iconic Gherkin building – and one that closely resembles its architectural equivalent. With a combination of simple screens and small enclosures, Steelcase’s Work Tent Collection challenges preconceptions around workspace design with a flexible and practical answer for open plan offices. steelcase.com
At home in Manchester
Following two years of hearsay, Soho House owner Nick Jones has confirmed the lucrative membersonly club will be opening in Manchester – residing in Grenada TV Studios’ former warehouse in the city’s financial district, Spinningfields. While details are subject to change, members can expect to walk into an art-studded venue that flows across three floors. Embracing the day-to-night premise of the other Soho House venues, guests will be able to work, relax and play under one roof with facilities including an onsite gym, workspace, bar and adjoining nightclub. The venue is also set to host member-only events including book clubs, music nights and talks with special guests.
A planned rooftop terrace will provide a vantage point from which to admire Manchester’s developing skyline, with a pool for warmer days. Downstairs, Soho House Manchester will incorporate restaurants, with plans for these to be accessible for non-members also – the Veniceinspired Cecconi, and the American themed Mollie’s Motel & Diner. Both food settings will be designed by the Soho House team. As the first House to be opened in the north of England, 27 years after the inaugural London launch in 1995, Manchester will join a portfolio of more than 30 other prestigious Soho venues around the globe. sohohouse.com
Kicking off an exciting line-up of 2023 openings for the brand, The Hoxton embarks on its first ski season with the debut of Hox Chalet, opening its doors in February 2023. Located at the heart of Morzine in France and elevated 1000m in the world-renowned ski region of Portes du Soleil, Hox Chalet is a three-level luxury mountain lodge run in partnership with Treeline Chalets – characterised by signature Hox-from-home touches by Ennismore’s in-house design studio.
Chalets accommodate up to twelve guests for a sevennight experience, including an expert chalet host team and locally-sourced Hox breakfasts and evening meals. Ensuring its roots remain firmly planted in the culture and community of each hotel destination, Hox Chalet offers a GREY GOOSE® Vodka bar and mixologist to echo the true spirit of French après-ski, plus a Hox Survival Guide tailored to Morzine village. Hox Chalet will run from 25 February until 15 April 2023 in partnership with Treeline Chalets and Grey Goose Vodka, with bookings due to open on 15 November. thehoxton.com
Design Director Oktra
Desert Island Desks What would our castaway industry figures take with them? Mitchell has close to 20 years’ experience working on UK and EU-based commercial projects. Now Oktra’s Design Director, he specialises in workplace design and fit-out for a variety of industries, while leading a team of creative and technical designers. Noting a big shift in design pre and post-pandemic, Mitchell has personally witnessed the increase in home comforts labelled as ‘essential components’ in design, closing the gap between how workers spend their time in and out of office hours.
Juke box J amiroquai Mr Moon (Live in Phoenix ‘97) Red H ot Chili Peppers Aeroplane J amiroquai Travelling Without Moving Red H ot Chili Peppers Can’t Stop J amiroquai Emergency on Planet Earth (Live in Phoenix ‘97) Red H ot Chili Peppers Venice Queen (Live from Slane Castle ‘03)
01 VW T6 Camper It seems to make sense to have one of these on a desert island. Air-con to keep cool, table and chairs for any surprise guests, and four beds in case they need to sleep over.
02 A coffee moka It’s somewhat ironic that I am now dependent on coffee as a result of 20 years designing hundreds of office spaces containing tea-points and coffee machines. Instructions say it makes nine espressos which is rubbish, it makes one large cup of coffee. 03 Pearl drum kit I am a frustrated drummer. I tap on everything to the annoyance of others. I would take a Pearl drum kit to the island and play it as loud as I want. 04 Hille Series E chair (1971) This instantly recognisable classic chair designed by Robin Day is super simple, tough and functional. The memories it evokes from my schooldays only adds to the appeal. And we all have stories of someone who got their head stuck through the hole. 05 Pace RC200 mountain bike Cycling is my favourite (only) sport. For desert island use I would take my Pace RC200 to keep fit. It was my dream bike growing up, but too pricey to ever own back then. Years later, I managed to locate one, restore it and build it to the same specification as I once wanted – with purple bits and Hope hubs. 06 Warwick Streamer and Yamaha BB2004 They come as a pair and can’t be separated. The one on the left I bought in New Zealand in 2003. Coincidentally it also spent time on a desert island, in Fiji. I bought the other bass from Jamiroquai 12 years ago. I could play these as loud as I like, assuming the camper comes with guitar amps.
Paradoxically Speaking with Neil Usher
For all we know Of all the questions asked in the workplace industry in 2022, none has been asked in desperation and fudged in response more than: how much space do I need? Consultant heuristics and designer space budgets alike have been thrown into mortal confusion by the effect of the pandemic on office life, such that old models no longer apply. In fact, no models apply. Where once resided certainty, now judgment and variance wreak havoc. Into this environment in mid-October stepped the British Council for Offices (BCO) with new guidance to inform its fit-out guide: 10-12 square metres per person. This will, it is claimed, offset problems associated with overcrowding and noise pollution which aren’t on the current list of pressing design issues. It’s often said that if you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs, it’s quite likely you’ve misjudged the situation entirely. So let’s put it to the test by summarising what we actually know as the year draws in. It’s not a great deal. Most organisations have a form of hybrid working in place that requires or suggests 2-3 days in the office. Most people are sitting just under the target in order to avoid a quiet word. Office use hasn’t therefore returned to pre-pandemic levels. Offices are generally desolate on Mondays and Fridays. For workers, the commute, in terms of cost, time and quality – once priced in – is now priced out. For individuals weighing up whether to attend the office or not, it now has to show a return on investment.
Meanwhile, there’s still a dearth of evidence to support the benefit to individuals, teams and the organisation of in-presence working. It’s still emotion, anecdote, hunch, and there’s no sign of the workplace industry devising tools to prove it. We’re still looking at how the office performs in terms of usage and satisfaction, not what contribution it can make to people and the organisation over and above working from home. In the absence of a case, the physical workspace is proving to be insufficient to attract substantial attendance. Yet offices only work when there is critical mass and unless we have that, the office isn’t socially sustainable. Empty offices also aren’t commercially or environmentally sustainable. As a matter of simple maths, most organisations won’t need as much office space as they may have calculated before COVID. The midweek ‘hump’ still has to be managed as otherwise we’re building out space for a couple of days a week. Our paradox seemingly becomes: we have too much office space, therefore we need to allow for more space per person. Yet we carry into 2023 so many questions. A static measure of necessary space in an age of mobility, flexibility and continued unpredictability appears to have run its course. What we need are buildings that are able to flex even further, to allow any form and combination of occupation at any time, while smart tech works out what’s needed as the occupant organisation evolves. When all we know isn’t very much, being ready for anything is vital.
N eil U sher is Chief Workplace & Change Strategist at GoSpace AI and author of The Elemental Workplace and Elemental Change
Interview: Goddard Littlefair
Sliding Doors Leading design duo Martin Goddard and Jo Littlefair reflect on creativity, purpose and the decade since founding their eponymous studio. Words: Dominic Lutyens Images courtesy of goddard littlefair
A shared philosophy of interior design combined with a strong personal connection – that developed into a relationship – underpin the chemistry and creative compatibility of husband-and-wife duo Goddard Littlefair. When we met, the couple were refreshingly open about what drew them together, our conversation ricocheting effortlessly between (mostly) professional matters – chiefly how discovering that they were kindred spirits as designers led them to establish their studio Goddard Littlefair in 2012 – and the personal, with this meeting of minds blossoming into romance. The company, whose London office occupies a converted warehouse in Clerkenwell, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022. Over the past decade the studio has undertaken a roster of residential, hospitality and wellness projects. These include such hotels as London’s Mayfair Townhouse, Four Seasons Sultanahmet Istanbul, Villa Copenhagen, Gleneagles in Scotland and the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik in Croatia. The duo’s hospitality and residential projects are characteristically but not exclusively opulent, richly colourful and often theatrical.
Of course, the history of design from the 20th century onwards is filled with success stories of dynamic husbandand-wife teams, even though the input of the women in such couples was traditionally undervalued. By contrast, the name Goddard Littlefair, formed of Martin Goddard and Jo Littlefair, takes gender parity as a given. As we touch upon later, the duo have no truck with stereotypical notions of so-called masculine and feminine strengths in the worlds of architecture and interior design. The interweaving of Goddard and Littlefair’s personal and professional lives almost has a fairytale quality, perhaps enhanced by their unashamedly romantic aesthetic. Internationally sought-after, the studio opened another office in Porto in 2020, which now has 20 employees. The pair first visited the city in 2012 and were instantly enchanted by it. “We visited Porto frequently at the beginning of our business partnership because we were collaborating a lot with Portuguese companies,” remembers Littlefair. “We’d wander through its nostalgic streets and spend perfect evenings in a little bar, sipping port and eating local cheeses.
Above image: Four Seasons, Istanbul
A love for Porto and being able to operate a business there, expanding on the network of companies we collaborate with, fills us with excitement for what the future could deliver there.” Although Goddard Littlefair’s projects, particularly on the hospitality front, are sumptuously furnished and brim with bespoke elements guaranteed to sweep hotel guests away from humdrum reality, when the studio was launched – less glamorously – hard graft helped lay the foundations for its global success. The duo talk almost as if, early in their careers, they were destined to meet, and indeed they did in 2005 while both worked for major hospitality interior design firm GA Design International [now the GA Group] in London. Goddard had previously worked at Richmond International, while Littlefair had recently left its sister company Areen Design to join the GA Group. Invoking the title of the classic 1990s movie, Littlefair says, “Martin and I had been like Sliding Doors throughout our careers. We should have met at things like Christmas parties. At GA Design International we did a year’s worth of projects together. We got each other’s
taste. I was pregnant at the time and left the company but told Martin to call me if he ever wanted to work together in the future.” “One thing we’d discovered was that we shared a strong work ethic and can-do attitude when any project was thrown at us,” interjects Goddard. He did get in touch with Littlefair, on being approached to design a huge spa. “My initial reaction was, well that’s all my weekends and evenings gone, so I contacted Jo via LinkedIn to see if she could help.” “Ah yes LinkedIn, that famous dating site,” laughs Littlefair. Looking back yet further, did they have arty family backgrounds that might have inspired them to become interior designers? “I have an artist uncle,” says Littlefair, who is from County Durham and studied textile design at Leeds University. “My family could always draw but never seriously took it up,” says Goddard, who was born in East London and studied interior design at Middlesex University. “The
course was very architecture-focused so my skill sets on graduating included masterplanning and spatial design.” “There were few opportunities for interior designers in the North East, but I found work in London,” says Littlefair. “Along the way, I discovered the specialism of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E); it immediately appealed to me as it allowed me to mix fabrics, textures and colour palettes, and I worked in procurement and design specification. It was the perfect complement to Martin’s skill set.” The duo summarises the architectural and FF&E specialisms as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ respectively, but refute the way their industry regards architectural skills as superior to FF&E. Asked why this is, Littlefair says: “It’s a very traditional, hierarchical thing. Even now we know architects are paid more than what we are; they’re treated more seriously. It’s a bit like the female-male pay gap we still have.” When it’s suggested this prejudice has been perpetuated by the male-dominated architecture world, the couple seem to agree. “For the past 30 years, male architects have tended to design hotels,” says Goddard. “Many are designed by architects who don’t connect human beings to architecture, so the emotional aspect of these spaces is missing.” “FF&E is often called fluffy,” continues Littlefair. “It’s very disrespectful. Yet designers like Martin Brudnizki, who has designed for Soho House, layers textiles and patterns that create an ambience which you can’t dismiss as irrelevant.” Goddard Littlefair aims to bring this more human-centric approach to design to the fore, too, she adds. “Our design springs from emotion, of the experience of being in a space. For me, hotel design is about giving guests inspiring, life-changing experiences. I remember feeling special sitting at the bar of Paris hotel George V for the first time, drinking a negroni. It made me want to pursue that feeling again. For us, it’s about creating a feeling – all the lighting, all the surfaces have to be right. A lot of our concepts are driven by our vision of the finished design.”
While both had a proven track record as designers employed by reputable companies, they had to prove that their new company could undertake projects to a high standard, they acknowledge: “When you’re setting up, you’re starting from scratch, however long you’ve worked for other companies. Can your clients trust you? We worked hard to win that trust,” explains Goddard. Their first breakthrough project was designing three and four-bed apartments in a Belgravia newbuild called Ebury Square for Berkeley Homes. They opted for a style Littlefair dubs ‘modern classicism’, which nodded to the grandeur of the area’s traditional architecture while bridging it with a more contemporary style. “It had over-scaled doors, highly polished dark timbers and rich brass and bronze elements,” she describes. The studio also secured commissions from Corinthia Hotels and the Hilton. In two later projects – boutique hotel Mayfair Townhouse, completed in 2020, and the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, which opened in 2022 – Goddard and Littlefair were in their element in terms of their penchant for opulence and passion for detail. Mayfair Townhouse comprises 15 townhouses that incorporate seven listed Georgian buildings. Knowing that Oscar Wilde had once lived in the townhouses, Goddard Littlefair ran with the theme of the flamboyant Aesthetic Movement cultivated by Wilde and his contemporaries, favouring sumptuous materials and dim, nocturnal lighting. Alabaster lamps illuminate the reception, while seating in the Dandy Bar is covered in printed velvets. Delphinium blue, sealing-wax red and olive green shades enhance the interior’s opulence. They also dreamt up a playful motif encapsulating the mischievous spirit of Wilde et al – the fox. Its colour-drenched interiors, including its richly hued guest rooms, also challenge the received wisdom that neutral colours in smaller rooms make them look bigger. “You’d think neutral tones make small rooms look bigger but strong colours work well in them – they cocoon you,” says Littlefair.
Opposite page Top left: Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik Top right: Villa Copenhagen
Bottom left: Gleneagles, Scotland Bottom right: Raffles Spa
Context and local culture and heritage also inform the interior of one of the studio’s latest projects – the 65-room Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. “The hotel is a converted prison near the Hagia Sophia mosque,” says Littlefair. “The courtyard was an unsung element, so we proposed that it be relandscaped. It has beautiful stone cobbles and gardens and is a great success. We sourced all the objects in the hotel – embroideries, antique velvets, beaten metal chandeliers and beautiful blown glass – in Turkey, where we worked with local artisans. We brought in shades like cinnamon and paprika reds. There’s a wood-burning pizza oven with a bespoke copper cowl made by an artisan as no manufacturer could make it.” It’s in the past two years that Goddard Littlefair has been most prolific, perhaps because commissions have snowballed as its reputation has grown. Two upcoming projects include the OWO Raffles Spa in London and the Mandarin Oriental Vienna. Concluding, why do the duo think they’re now so busy? “We believe there are two reasons for this – firstly, several of our high-profile projects completed over the last three years, has given more visibility to our work,” says Littlefair. “Secondly, our projects are always intriguing. We aim to add value and narrative to them, which we believe draws in curiosity from all quarters.”
Above image: The Mayfair Townhouse
Interview: i/o atelier
i / o atelier ’s
Steven Charlton on starting from scratch and why using data can create a more meaningful human experience. Words: Chloé Petersen Snell Images: courtesy of i/o atelier
Steven Charlton is restless. “I can’t lie on the beach for an hour without getting bored,” he says, speaking through a less than perfect internet connection from Riyadh. As co-founder and CEO of i/o atelier, a fledgling practice with an already impressive client list, Charlton splits his time between London and the Middle East, overseeing a nimble team of designers, architects and data scientists. i/o atelier was founded by four creatives and thinkers, brought together by a shared conviction that architecture and design – when done well – can bring out the best in people. Especially when incorporating cold, hard data to back it up. After living in Dubai and starting Pringle Brandon’s Middle East studio, Charlton eventually moved back to the UK after overseeing a 135-strong team at Perkins&Will Dubai. “It’s a great way to learn about how big business works,” Charlton comments on his time as principal managing director. “It opens your eyes to international business, and it opens your eyes to see what scale and volume can do. But ultimately, I’d always wanted to do my own thing.” Charlton was joined by creative director Jeremy Brown as a co-founder, coming to i/o from Virgin Galactic’s inhouse design team: developing its Future Astronaut experience and previously working on the interiors for airports to aircrafts at Virgin Atlantic. Creating a new frontier of human design experience has now translated to the datameets-design experiences created by i/o (albeit a little more down to earth). Fellow Perkins&Will architect (and Mix 30 Under 30 alumni) Medi Jelokhani is also a co-founder.
Left: Steven Charlton, pictured second from right, with Abdul Jabbar, Medi Jelokhani and Jeremy Brown
Above: Workplace project
The team are fascinated by the future telling possibilities of hard data, blending it together with design to create spaces that focus on wellness, sustainability and smart tech – aiming to become part of the solution for a carbon negative future. And, as a young company, they have the freedom to do things their way, unpressured by the weight of being a big firm. i/o work with a team of advisors from all backgrounds to get a full picture of human behaviour and technology. The biggest collaboration is with data scientists, who Charlton believes will one day make up 25% of the practice’s staff. “It’s about forcing two different worlds to collide and then questioning from both sides why and how we do what we do,” he comments. “Just because we have always done things one way doesn’t mean there aren’t smarter and better ways to do it, right?”
Moving back to London, Charlton became fascinated by the growing world of Proptech which is really taking off in London – and how it could be used to transform the commercial design industry. “I’m always looking for new markets, new sectors, some new ideas and new technologies, and about eight years ago I started to really think about how technology be used in our industry, and what that might look like. It wasn’t about BIM or virtual reality, but the automation process of the design. I thought, what would the disruption in our industry really look like?” For an industry previously slow to adopt new technologies, Proptech has been a hot topic in 2022, part of a wider digital transformation of the property industry and wider built environment – driven by a range of new
tech, AI and big data, which has already disrupted areas such as finance. And as Proptech expands, data analytics have become an increasing focus. Quoting mathematician and data scientist Clive Humby, Charlton describes data as the new oil. Unrefined, it’s not valuable, but its value is found when refined and connected to other data. Of course, it’s also useless on its own. “We’re weighting the data we collect, giving it relevance and meaning, and using what is important for the type of projects that we’re doing. Linking that data to other data, aggregating it, is essential and where you need the two worlds to collide. Using data makes designing more accurate, but you still have to do an amazing design,” Charlton emphasises. “This is not some magic bullet to give you good design – it exists to refine the design process.” He offers an example: “A media company commissioned a study based on the data analytics it captures on its platform and external data sources. They wanted to understand what the trends are right now, so they could be used as a brief for programmes. They figured out it was 80s nostalgia, slasher movies and teen TV programmes, and used that data and commissioned a TV show called Stranger Things. Of course, it’s about using the data, but you still have to make a fantastic show, with a director, actors and production. The two things have to go hand in hand: strong data and a way to understand it, plus a
strong design team to create something amazing.” Although currently still in the build process, i/o has a series of global clients keen to understand how refined, intelligent data can transform the way they work. Right now, the team are busy working up a new workplace strategy for a global law firm focusing on their data and i/o’s data – presenting back a post-COVID world which Charlton and his team think will be a benchmark document in the industry. “We started collating all that data from all their offices around the world – looking at what’s happening in terms of occupational rates, their booking systems, building systems and even people connecting to WiFi on their phones. We’re aggregating it in a way that we can show them what’s really happening. Then we can look at the profiles of the people. Who are they, what do they do? All this information will then justify a business decision they may have. They’re thinking about reducing their footprint by 30, 40, 50 percent, based on opinions – which seems like what they should be doing. But does the data validate that decision? Or does it tell you to do something different? How does the nuance of each region play into the decision-making process? People are behaving differently in London compared to Manchester, Newcastle to Edinburgh, but without data it’s really just an opinion, and the key for data analytics is the more data you have, the more insightful it is.”
Not restricted to the workplace sector, Charlton enthuses about ongoing projects from aviation and banking to hospitality and residential. “We don’t want to be focused on one sector exclusively, as we believe variety in typologies also makes us better designers.” In London, i/o is working with a branded hospitality operator to better understand the profile of their guests: what generation they belong to, what consumer tribe, what they like, dislike and what they think is luxury, where they want to live, but also the location of the property and its context. Gone are the days when a building was a fortress. Now buildings are permeable to community and we need to understand as designers how you can give back into that community from a social perspective. But to do that, you need to know what’s around them, you need to know what the challenges are, even go so far to look at the crime data and see if there’s something you can do to help. That’s where the data comes in.” With the advancement of data science, machine learning and AI comes a social and ethical responsibility that Charlton is all too aware of. Data collection regulations aside, human bias is a challenge to overcome – with many of the features and structures of data
analytics potentially influenced by their designer’s and data scientist’s preconception and bias. “We’re going to have to have regulations around ethics and bias, that are going to come into how we work with data,” he comments. “It’s happening already, but it’s early doors.” “There is, of course, a dystopian view of this, which I completely get,” he adds. “But on the flip side is a way of thinking – that actually we can make better decisions and improve the world.” Summarising his thoughts on the importance of breaking with convention and trying to deliver something disruptive and innovative, Charlton concludes. “If you don’t move with the inevitable technology, you get left behind. We have to try not to fear the future and embrace it. We have to make positive use of that data and try and create better designs that make people healthier, happier, more productive, and that helps them balance their lives.”
Above: Upcoming project plans
The Ask with Tina Norden
Can luxury be truly democratic? Luxury: a word that divides opinions and emotions. In the classic sense it may be a thing of the past, perhaps no longer relevant in times of unprecedented financial pressures. Or is modern luxury something else now – more democratic and more meaningful?
That also makes it more democratic, even if within the realms of our First World parameters. We can all make time for ourselves and the odd thing to spoil ourselves, whether a Cartier diamond necklace or a fabulous Superdrug lipstick.
There is a lively debate about the meaning of luxury, with the most interesting aspect being the move away from the purely material. Above all, luxury now has a connotation of spoiling oneself, but ask any group of people what luxury means to them and you will likely get as many opinions as there are people. Often it relates to time – free time for things we enjoy or doing nothing at all. Luxury might be barefoot for some of us; a hammock on a beach somewhere. It could be about comfort, like a beloved item of clothing that makes us feel at home in our skin, looks fabulous and is comfortable at the same time. That could be my Uniqlo jumper or my Issey Miyake skirt at different ends of the spectrum – but with the same result. The notion of comfort as luxury also stretches to interiors and architecture – spaces that are considered and make us feel special, cossetted and at ease no matter how expensive their materiality.
It’s interesting to see that even luxury brands, certainly in the hospitality industry, are very much onto this new concept of luxury and are working at experiential and not only material luxury.
Luxury can be about finding something that gives you joy. That might be a new watch, but could also be a long walk with your dog or a coffee with a friend. So the definition of luxury has moved from the obvious material connotation to something much more diverse and inherently personal.
At times that can feel a bit like an excuse not to spend money. But in a time where there are huge financial pressures on projects, maybe that’s a good thing? If taken as a positive, it pushes us to work harder at creating spaces that provide that joy – that sense of luxury – no matter what the budget is. We can also treat it as an opportunity for conscious, informed decisions based not just on cost but also on sustainability. Generosity of spirit is a key part of modern luxury. In hospitality that’s about thoughtful gestures that don’t have to be expensive but provide pleasure. Some time back we stayed in a little place, in the mountains where it got cold at night. After dinner, a hot water bottle had been slipped under the duvet in our absence, just like that, without asking. How luxurious it felt to get under the duvet into the warmth of the bed in the cold, looking out over the beautiful landscape. It felt like there was no other place we’d rather be – true luxury.
T ina N orden is a partner at Conran and Partners, where she has been a member of the board since 2016
Case Study: 280 Bishopsgate
MoreySmith has reimagined 280 Bishopsgate as a vibrant workplace that embodies both its Spitalfields and City of London locales.
Words: Lauren Jade Hill Photography: Billy Bolton
When MoreySmith approached the redesign of 280 Bishopsgate, a 13-storey tower facing onto both Spitalfields and the City, the architecture and interior design studio envisioned a vibrant new workplace that linked these diverse neighbourhoods with an entrance on each side. “Our idea was to connect the City to the Spitalfields and Shoreditch side and bring that contextual inspiration into a space blurring hospitality and the workplace,” says associate interior designer for MoreySmith and project lead, Zoe Bailey, who was named among the Mix Interiors 30 under 30 of 2022. “Having the dual entrance allows people to have two options for their address, 280 Bishopsgate or 280 Bishops Square. A start-up might go for the Shoreditch address, while a law firm might want to be connected to the City.”
The firm was briefed to make the early-2000s site, formerly the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, a destination in which people want to work. With this in mind, the practice set about turning 7,800 sq ft spanning the full length of the ground floor into a dual reception that draws on these two different identities, while providing hospitality space for coffee meetings and after-work cocktails. “We researched what the two aesthetics would feel like and then looked into ways of blending them,” Bailey explains. “Now as the user walks through the space, there’s a subtle transition between the two styles from one end to the other, with the statement bar in the centre acting as the focal point that gels the two together. “At the Spitalfields and Shoreditch end there’s a more relaxed, raw feel, then if you go from the City entrance it’s
Ground floor dual reception Below image: The lobby features an eclectic mix of furniture
a lot more slick, monochrome and very architectural, with details like the feature lighting – supplied by Roll & Hill and Dirk Vander Kooij. There’s this play on furnishings and finishes gradually changing through the space.” An eclectic mix of furniture is used in different setups designed to accommodate everything from premeeting catch-ups to Zoom calls throughout the work day. A neutral colour palette runs throughout and is complemented by impactful materials like green marble terrazzo flooring, Estremoz marble worktops and the Alusion aluminium foam that hangs above the bar. MoreySmith collaborated with Benchmark on the design of a statement bench and other items were sourced from Italian makers including Living Divani, De La Espada and Meridiani. In such a large, open space, zoning was integral. “It was important to us that this ground-floor space wasn’t just a sea of furnishing or joinery with no differentiation,” Bailey says. “Creating zones through the ceiling design, lighting design and furniture layouts was key to the concept.” Planning permission was also achieved to refurbish the existing façade and create a terrace for tenants on the rooftop. On the exterior, pinstripe aluminium cladding has been used with a charcoal palette and LED light panels under mesh giving the appearance of a glowing façade. A double-height atrium has been added to the Bishop’s Square entrance, with the aim of giving the building more presence on that side, and outdoor planting further enhances the design. The rooftop terrace is a highlight of the newly transformed site as it commands both City and Shoreditch vistas from a space featuring lounge furniture and planting. “Altogether, the furnishing, styling and planting really add the softness needed to finish off each space,” Bailey explains. Wellbeing and sustainability were both fundamental to the overall development and as a result 280 Bishopsgate is now the largest WELL Platinum office space in the UK and one of only two BREEAM Outstanding buildings to have been delivered in London in 2022.
Client Arax Properties Architect MoreySmith + Anomoly Architects Interior Designer MoreySmith Flooring InOpera, Grestec Furniture Benchmark, Living Divani, De La Espada, Finn Juhl, Fredericia, B&B Italia, Meridiani, Tacchini, Cassina, Porada, Poiat, Arflex, Miniforms, Valerie Objects, Vitra, Mobel, SCP (the dealer) Surfaces Clayworks, Alusion, Banker Wire Lighting Roll & Hill, Dirk Vander Kooij
Clockwise from top, opposite page: Reception desk with feature lighting Alusion aluminium hangs above the bar Marble terrazzo flooring
“It was always important to the client, Arax Properties, that this building was going to reach the highest it could on the WELL certification and also BREEAM,” says Bailey. “It was a group effort to make the place feel welcoming, holistic and a place people want to work; considering how the journey to their floor is the best it can be and having amenities throughout the building.” “The whole way through, we wanted to approach this as sustainably and ethically as we could,” she continues. “Just keeping the building standing was a massive deal and it was integral to make sure it was upgraded as sustainably as possible by doing as little to the structure as we could, with maximum impact. From our perspective, leaving the building standing and regenerating that for the future is the most sustainable thing to do.” Proving the success of this design concept and its diverse appeal, 90% of the office space was pre-let by tenants, spanning a law firm and media company, before it had even reached completion this year.
Below image: Rooftop terrace with views of Shoreditch and the City
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Revolutionary Living Case Study: Ark Wembley
At North London’s Ark, Holloway Li designs for a new type of community.
Words: Dominic Lutyens Photography: Nicholas Worley
New co-living brand Ark’s first property, the 13-storey Wembley Ark in North London’s Wembley Park, opened last September. An interesting, some might say Utopian proposition, Ark fuses the model of co-working spaces that has mushroomed in the past decade with co-living facilities in the form of serviced apartments. Wembley Ark is a sort of experiment that purports to address new needs in London in the so-called ‘postpandemic world’, including a growing demand for better quality, remote-working facilities. A more accurate description of a post-pandemic world might be a postlockdown world, however, since lockdowns in particular radically shook up our working and living patterns. Ark is a joint venture with real-estate investor Crosstree Real Estate Partners and Re:Shape Generation – itself a joint venture between co-living specialist Re:Shape and Generation, a student accommodation brand. “To date,
co-living demand has predominantly been from renters aged 26 to 45, of which there are 1.2m in London, according to a recent report on co-living conducted by Experian,” says Jermaine Browne, co-founder of Ark. “Ark responds to this by providing flexible, communitycentric serviced apartments.” Ark champions social responsibility, while valuing aesthetically pleasing interior design. The Wembley Park building was bought fully furnished and Ark, in partnership with Brent Council and the Brent Youth Foundation, donated some of its furniture to local care homes and community centres. And Wembley Ark, in partnership with the Al-Hasaniya Women’s Centre, offers free accommodation to women who’ve suffered from domestic violence. Wembley Ark’s interiors have been reconfigured by London-based design studio Holloway Li. “We approached the project with a light
Communal dining lounge Below image: Multifunctional lounge
touch, which involved retaining some of the existing features and furniture,” says Na Li, co-founder of the studio. “Overall, we provided a mix of communal openplan spaces and more private ones.” On both co-working and co-living fronts, the 300-room building offers flexibility: guests can stay from two nights to up to one year. In response to the current volatile economic climate and rise in the cost of living, Ark offers a fixed, all-inclusive room rate, priced from per night for a minimum two-night stay or per month. This covers a guest room with ensuite bathroom; unlimited access to co-working spaces; dry-cleaning and laundry; a round-the-clock concierge and gym; super-fast WI-FI and business rates and utilities (gas, electricity and water). Ark also lays on a programme of activities, ranging from cocktail-making to pottery. Ark sees this arrangement as an appealing alternative to house shares, giving guests who can afford the monthly rate a mix of privacy and opportunities to socialise. A communal dining area and kitchen will open soon on the top floor. The building is complex: a large, open-plan, homely space filled with chairs in a mid-century style in oatmeal shades and plants in terracotta pots defining the entrance. Providing the odd pop of colour are brilliantly coloured paintings and patterned cushions.
Client Re:Shape and Crosstree Architect pH+ (Puncher Hamilton Plus Ltd) Interior designer Holloway Li Flooring Havwood, Bolon Furniture HAY, Six The Residence, Vincent Shepard, &Tradition, Menu, Norr11, Expormm Surfaces Arte, Dulux, Parkside Lighting Moooi, Soho Home, indor, Watt&veke, House of, Umage, Menu, ferm LIVING, Holloways of Ludlow
“A reception desk from the old hotel stood in the centre of the space but it blocked the view and was removed,” says Li. Guests are now welcomed by staff in what Li describes as a university-style “porter’s lodge” (it also
Opposite page: Rooms are decorated with a soothing neutral palette and feature built-in elements, such as L-shaped banquettes
looks like a cinema box office), positioned along one wall. This room also includes semi-secluded booths with plum walls and seating covered in a tweedy, rustcoloured Kvadrat fabric. “We chose a vinyl Bolon carpet here because its pale colour looks homely,” says Li. “Yet it’s made of vinyl and so easy to clean in an area that needs to withstand heavy human traffic.” Wembley Ark’s guest rooms, which occupy the former hotel’s rooms, are distributed over 10 floors and are decorated with a soothing neutral palette – mainly mushroom and putty tones. Their shipshape, built-in elements, such as L-shaped banquettes provide a social space adjoining the bed and streamlined kitchenettes were inspired, says Li, by “yacht design”. It remains to be seen how this experimental, ambitious project will fare. There’s a fine line between creating
a neutral environment likely to suit most tastes – the general aesthetic of Wembley Park’s interiors – and ending up with one that feels bland and impersonal. This may have influenced the decision to incorporate some offbeat colours too, such as a pale, dusty purple tone that Li describes as taro, in the guest rooms. “It’s the colour of a root vegetable popular in Asia,” says Li. By contrast, for a media room, Holloway Li plumped for richer colours with a red carpet, navy walls and comfortable furniture by Hay. “We were inspired by the Electric Cinema [in White City and Notting Hill, London],” she says. The project will be completed in January, when Wembley Ark’s roof terrace will be completed. This will provide guests with another attraction: it will host music gigs, poetry readings, barbecues and even boast allotments, the latter regarded by Ark as especially desirable in a post-pandemic world.
Below: Rooftop terrace
Arabian Nights Case Study: W Dubai Mina Seyahi
At the W Dubai Mina Seyahi, designers Stickman Tribe and BLINK draw from a legacy of storytelling and folk history. Words: Harry McKinley
Dubai is a sprawl perennially in flux – as much a study in civic planning and ambition as a living city. At Dubai Harbour, where there was once only a stretch of coastline and open water, reclaimed land and marina development now provides birthing for up to 700 yachts; shiny new residential skyscrapers lining its edge. Once complete, the area is set to encompass 20m sq ft and feature a shopping mall, the ultra-contemporary Dubai Lighthouse (with a 135m high observation deck), and a bustling entertainment cluster with restaurants and events space. It’s on the Dubai Harbour shore that the recently unveiled W Dubai Mina Seyahi has opened its doors – a 318-key, 31-storey property that fuses a youthful sensibility with Arabesque design.
In the guestrooms, interiors were overseen by the Bangkok-based BLINK Design Group. The studio looked to the Al-Halqa tradition for inspiration, ancient storytelling circles where captivating yarns were classically woven by masters of the form, often drawing crowds. Given UNESCO status in Morocco, this art form is still practiced in pockets of the UAE. “The more we researched the history of Dubai – the generations of traders and storytellers coming together to build this shimmering city by the sea – the more excited we became,” says Clint Nagata, BLINK’s founder and creative partner. “We set out, from the ground up, to imbue this hotel with the soul of storytelling and the
A reception-adjacent ‘flying carpet’ appears to burst from the wall Left: Black and white bathrooms nod to ink on paper Opposite Top image: Sea view bedroom Bottom image: Lounge
spirit of the souk, a place for people to meet and share the stories of their travels; a haven for modern day traders, wheelers and dealers.”
in places, even restraint, representing the W brand’s gradual pivot away from a ‘party’ personality and towards something more rarefied.
Leather headboards evoke the shapes and silhouettes of the Dhow boats that traverse the city’s creek, while fabrics are ornamented with calligraphy-inspired motifs. Elaborate light fittings introduce buoyant colour, with a palette “straight from Arabian Nights”. In the bathrooms, black and white treatments are intended to suggest ink on paper – another nod to calligraphy.
In the public areas there’s a similarly evolved aesthetic, with design here helmed by local agency, Stickman Tribe. Although sharing F&B outlets with other Marriott Mina Seyahi properties – including The Westin and Le Meridien – the W features its own all-day-dining space, Ginger Moon, with a more formal Japanese eatery set to open imminently and a beach club arriving in 2023. A large lobby is a space to socialise, work and – with a cocktail bar – play.
“We play with the secrets behind the veil,” continues Nagata, describing the walk-in wardrobes with billowing curtains in gradient sunset colours, that “echo the hues of the bay”. Across guestrooms, design is brazen and energetic, but with a level of polish and,
“We developed the overall design concept, which BLINK had to capture the essence of and build into the rooms,” explains Marcos Cain, Stickman Tribe’s
Opposite Top image: In the lobby, a beaded feature wall references Arabian Nights Bottom image: Dine at Mare
founder and principal. “Mina Seyahi, meaning Port of Travelers, accentuates the high culture and low mass culture; sacred and profane; literacy and orality that can be found in the metropolitan city of Dubai. Storytelling, then, is key to Dubai’s unique past and future. Tales keep the Emirati heritage and culture alive. The ancient Arab art of oral storytelling acts as an intricate and rich narrative style – using tools from visual spectacle to music to satire.” This narrative style is manifest in vivid, theatrical design flourishes from the entrance onwards: a depiction of an Al Hakawati storybook seeing crystal pages floating in the air, symbolising the “pages of time turning”. A reception-adjacent ‘flying carpet’ appears to burst into brightly hued gems, another reference to Arabian Nights and the region’s folkloric legacy, while visions of snake charmers are conjured with a basket-inspired feature wall, snakeskin reception desks and a serpent-like mosaic path leading guests to check-in.
“The rest of the lobby space, to the left of the entrance, is designed as ‘The Gold Souk’,” says Cain. “A contemporary version of an oryx sculpture, made of black and brass steel wire, forms the central design element, with gold trinkets hanging from its antlers. The space features warm hues and gold accents often associated with these traditional markets.” Here, a beaded feature wall directly speaks to Arabian Nights; each bead embellished with the name of a tale from the collection. In the lobby bar, an ‘Arabian Leopard’ theme sees animal print cushions atop emerald green sofas and wildly patterned wallpaper. The W Dubai Mina Seyahi takes the tropes of the region and spins them into something strong with both whimsy and humour. In its design it skirts pastiche, offering visitors to the city a fanciful vision of Dubai’s culture and past, as well as its enterprising present and future – enjoyably unsubtle, it is a feast for the senses fit for a fairy tale.
Creative Engine Case study: Battersea
The restoration of Battersea Power Station is a lesson in the future viability of landmark building reuse. Words: Lauren Teague Images: Hufton + Crow, John Sturrock
Lobby and coworking space
Battersea Power Station is a building that needs little introduction. Decommissioned in 1983, having supplied London with electricity for five decades, the years that followed have seen various owners plan, and fail, to make the reuse of the mammoth building stack up. Each owner passed to the next not only a decaying Art Deco icon but a legacy of whimsical – but unrealised – grand ideas. In another life, it might have been a theme park; an urban entertainment complex (complete with Cirque du Soleil acrobats); an ‘Eco-Dome’; or a home to Chelsea Football Club. But in 2012, the Grade II* listed structure was purchased by shareholders Sime Darby Property, S P Setia and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF). Against the odds, the partnership has achieved the improbable and not only secured the building’s future but given it a new life at the heart of a 42-acre mixed-use masterplan of office, residential, retail, leisure and 19 acres of public realm. After almost 10 years of painstaking restoration, repurposing and repositioning, Battersea Power Station welcomed its first visitors in October this year. The
ambition across the site, according to Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) Head of Leasing, Sam Cotton, was always to deliver a “variety of price points, mixing small independent retailers alongside stable brands while bringing something new to south west London”; a vision that remained constant despite years of market change. Once the full masterplan is delivered, 25,000 people will be living and working on site, with 3m sq ft of commercial space alongside 4,000 new homes. But it is within the vast, cavernous turbine halls of the industrial former-power station that the true magic has happened. The brief for architecture practice WilkinsonEyre was to “retain or restore as much of the original fabric as possible while introducing new, viable uses,” says Project Director Sebastien Ricard. “Prior failed development attempts had left substantial loss of fabric [but] we worked very hard to restore what was effectively an industrial ruin to almost ‘as new’ condition. At the same time, we were keen that visitors would always be aware of the historic fabric and that they were in a unique space.”
This approach is evident throughout. The four famous chimneys were dismantled and rebuilt using the original construction methods; some 1.8 million new bricks were sourced from the original brickmakers to match the aesthetic of the existing facades; and internally, despite its functional overhaul from an industrial power house to a retailer’s dream, the public is able for the first time to gain a sense of the building’s significance and grandeur. Black steel walkways have been inserted to signify public routes and the new elements are respectful; neither flashy nor out of place but clearly an addition to the original architecture. Each of the two turbine halls, now home to an array of retailers, restaurants and cafes, is given its own identity. This, says Ricard, is a response to the disjointed construction of the original building: “Not everyone realises that Battersea Power Station was built in two halves over a long period of time. Only half the building existed (with two chimneys) before the Second World War and the rest was built from the end of the war up to about 1955, when the power station finally achieved its famous four-chimneyed
Below image: Mixed-use spaces in Turbine Hall B
profile.” As a result, the interior of Turbine Hall A was originally designed with the flamboyance of Art Deco styling; Turbine Hall B had a more austere architecture from the post-war period. WilkinsonEyre has reflected this history in the treatment of the two halls. Each is filled with commercial uses that feel a little awkward – although the rhythmic implementation of the subtle store signage throughout is a highlight – but different lighting and intervention strategies on each side create an intriguing contrast in ambiences. Overall, WilkinsonEyre’s architectural strategy for the building can only be described as a wonderous success. The practice has achieved something truly special with the centrepiece at the heart of this new neighbourhood; actively celebrating the heritage and the intricate industrial details of an iconic structure while enabling it to function for a new life. But the wider masterplan has been the topic of scrutiny for years prior to its completion. Ultimately, the BPSDC hopes that the new neighbourhood will offer “something for everyone” through its curated district of retail, F&B and leisure
offerings, and has committed to an events programme which will continue to bring people to the area. “For years Battersea Power Station sat derelict and closed to the public,” says Cotton. “Our aim throughout was to bring this iconic landmark back to its former glory so it could be enjoyed by members of the local community, Londoners and visitors from further afield.” Only time will tell whether the crowds will continue to flock once the novelty of the spectacle wears off. Look too closely at the array of high street retailers on offer and one could be at any high-end London shopping centre. But while this might not be the future that Gilbert Scott imagined for his industrial power house, a combination of financial viability, longevity and consumer need – while questioned by some – has saved one of London’s most famous buildings from standing empty and redundant as a monument to decay. The landmark building can now be enjoyed for generations to come as an exemplar of what can be achieved through determination and the continued belief and support of the project’s shareholders – a lesson to be taken forward.
Opposite Top image: Turbine Hall A bottom images:
Residential spaces feature original brickwork and historic details
Positive Impact with Judith van Vliet
Wielding Colour Judith van Vliet, founder of the Milan-based The Color Authority,
discusses the role colour can play in creating more positive spaces and experiences.
Have you ever wondered why you feel the way you do in certain spaces? Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the colour blue make you feel calmer and more relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long believed that colour can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions. One of the first to study colour was Isaac Newton in 1660, and still today people are studying its effects on the human psyche. In 1911, the Theory of Colours was published by Russian artist Kandinsky, who claimed that colours cause the human soul to vibrate and stated that colour was a powerful tool to influence human beings as biological organisms. “Psychologically,” said Kandinsky, “it has been proven that a red light can excite and have a stimulating effect on the heart, while the blue colour can even cause a temporary paralysis.” Kandinsky, for those who may not know, was also a synesthete – he would see colour when listening to music. Approximately three to five percent of the population has some form of synaesthesia – when one’s sense comes through as another. But where does that leave the rest of us? Can we learn to understand how some colours make us feel? What power do designers and architects wield by influencing our surroundings, with the aim of enhancing our emotions?
It’s a topic of great interest, especially for the Big Five. Back in 2019, Google designed A Space for Being for Milan Design Week, having partnered with scientists to show the importance of design and its impact on our health and wellbeing. Three slightly contrasting interior spaces were designed according to the principles of neuroaesthetics that would show how visual aesthetics impact our brain and physiology. Various textures, sounds, lights and scents were used to stimulate the visitors’ senses in different ways, exploring how these may impact negatively or positively. While the study did not focus exclusively on colour, but instead the overall experience, it did highlight the importance of the objects that we surround ourselves with and emphasise the impact designers can have on the choices we make each and every day. Why would a company like Google want to do such a study, then? Well, I think we can all agree that once ‘big tech’ knows how we feel in certain moments, it will sell this data to the highest bidder, who in return will hopefully be encouraged to design better and apply colour into our lives more fittingly. But what is the true question here? Not how can we sell more, according to peoples’ preferences. No, the question is, why have we lost connection to our own intuition in relation to what feels good, colour-wise, and what does not? In a world where algorithms show us where our main interests lie according to our buying patterns online, our connection with our own personal preferences and styles has diminished over time. Are we on autopilot and how do we go back from here? Interesting therefore, is the new campaign by Argos, which has partnered with Ogilvy UK to encourage consumers to decorate their homes in styles and colours
that reflect their personalities more accurately. The British retailer has launched a series of YouTube videos called ‘Make Yourself, At Home’, hosted by interior designer Siobhan Murphy. Fascinatingly enough, the campaign makes use of an AI tracking device to monitor how each family emotionally responds to aesthetic input on a large screen. The homes are then filled with products the family had a positive emotional response to. One of the main reasons for Argos to perform such a campaign is the increasing use of greys and beiges in residential interiors over the past decades, in contrast to the opulent colours of earlier decades. Remember the iconic interiors of the 60s and early 70s, decorated in avocado green, harvest gold and burnt orange? A recent study, however, has shown how grey, black and white made up about 15% of colour usage in interiors around 1800, whereas they now account for over 50% of colours used in our direct environments. Remember, then, that in colour psychology we learnt that grey – as a true neutral – does not provoke any emotion at all. So where does that leave black and white – grey being a mix of both? It’s little wonder we humans are not inspired to use colour, living in a colourless world, as research shows that the less we are surrounded by colour, the less we are encouraged to use it – even growing afraid of it. Is technology the answer to this fear and will it truly connect us with our intuition? Perhaps the next time you enter a space for the first time, take the time to understand how you feel in that particular space and what role the colours play in shaping those feelings. Because the answer to how colour makes us feel – and how it can be deployed through design to impact users – lies deep within us, if only we listen carefully enough.
Creative Thinking with Steve Gale
Identity versus function People make do. The history of workplace design is a story of loose fit and diminishing returns. Occupants are surprisingly tolerant of sub-optimal space provided other components are in place. We fret, rightly, about the number of desks, meeting room arrays, cafeteria seats and how they can all be configured. For decades our industry has prioritised effectiveness and productivity even though nobody has come up with ways of measuring either. Organisations reasonably ask for a ‘functional workplace’ to accommodate employees, and designers put in a lot of effort to meet this expectation and move the needle on the productivity and effectiveness dials.
I once asked a very senior scientist for his requirements for a new physics laboratory. His office was an unheated fifty-year-old prefabricated shed in the Malvern Hills, covered in ivy, with an illegal electric fire and a saucer of milk for a stray cat. He replied that he had everything he needed, but a new electron microscope would be really useful. He had his privacy and the right tools for the job. Years before that, my old college presented our architecture school with a shiny new building. It ditched the traditions, history and community that gave us a real sense of ownership, so it failed to win any respect from its occupants until the culture of the school changed.
But organisations need much more than an operational environment to make people happy and productive. A workplace might also give them respect, privacy and freedom, or it could reflect a common desire to achieve social goals. These key attributes are quite tricky to capture and record in a brief.
On the other hand, the Wellcome Trust could not wait to relocate from their rambling headquarters to their modern edifice on the Euston Road which represented the accessibility they felt suited their charitable status, and made a clear statement about their heft in the world of discovery and research.
While deep personal values and beliefs are difficult to describe, they can become visible through proxies, in the way people behave and how they treat each other. It is the designer’s job to express these values and imbue a workplace with powerful messages and references, which will influence how people feel and engage with their organisation. Attitudes to hierarchy, customers and employees; commitment to equality, diversity and wellness – these and many other intangible principles can be captured in good design.
Closer to home for many of us, it is no accident that many tech firms strive to retain the common room feel of a start-up. Beer fridges and indoor games are de rigueur to make it feel right. A very recent Forbes survey found that the commonest reason for people quitting their job was “a toxic company culture” at 62% of respondents. If this is true, and culture is so important, then we should give it the expression it deserves.
S teve G ale is head of business intelligence at M Moser Associates
Impact through Art Three prominent art curation agencies give insight into the power art has in guiding our experience in a space and even influencing how we feel. Words: Lauren Jade Hill
When ArtLink was tasked with creating an art concept for Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre, the art curation agency set about uncovering a narrative that would provide the hotel’s guests with a deeper connection to the emirate. Looking back to before this part of the Persian Gulf coast became the urban hub it is today, ArtLink dove into the region’s past as a cluster of pearl diving villages along the Silk Road. Drawing on the sea shanties of these Bedouin people, the agency broke one of these shanties down into its Arabic letters and built a mashrabiya from these letters over a map of how the region was at this time. As you ascend through the hotel, you ascend through history, from this artwork setting the scene at the entrance to shark installations playing on the hotel’s financial district location by the semi-transparent pool on the rooftop. “The idea is that we pour a story into the building that drives you to create your own story with what you’re experiencing,” says the CEO of ArtLink, Tal Danai. “We don’t decorate spaces – we speak cultures,” he says. “When we approach a project, what interests us is
how best can we tell the optimal story for that project, combining the local culture with the owner’s vision, brand values and designer’s ideas, and through research coming up with the building blocks of a narrative. We then tell that story through our language, which is art and craft, in a way that creates guest experience.” This storytelling is deepened through the investigation of the emotional, mental and cognitive triggers – in collaboration with institutions such as the psychology department of Columbia University – that make you want to pick up your phone and share what you’re experiencing. “The art needs to speak in spite of the fact nobody came to see it,” says Danai. Another art curation specialist making waves in the hospitality world, Double Decker succeeds in conveying a sense of place in hotel interiors by aligning the narrative of each individual’s experience with the curation of pieces from well-established and up-andcoming artists. “When we first established Double Decker, our main philosophy was to have the ability to garner as many
different feelings and reactions as we could in those spaces,” says co-director and co-founder of the firm, Wilhelm Finger. “By doing that we create a powerful angle of inclusivity through facilitating individual narratives.” For the recently opened 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central, Double Decker created what the agency calls its most brand-defining piece of work to date, a ceiling mural spanning over 25 metres that conveys the storytelling of the main concept, modern nomads, in which key constellations are entwined with Dubai landmarks. “In every corner of the hotel, you’re able to embark on an ongoing journey of discoveries developed by talented artists we uncovered in Dubai,” he says. “In-depth research is the key in mastering storytelling. It enables us to develop a bespoke sense of place and relatability.” This drive for a narrative that people can connect to extends beyond the curation of art for hospitality interiors. Originally set up to provide more artists with a fair and regular income, Artiq — now celebrating its 13th birthday — promotes the importance of nurturing creative talent and the benefits of bringing art into people’s lives through public artworks and the curation of art collections in commercial interiors. “When I first set up the company, we were initially renting art to offices,” says the CEO and co-founder of Artiq, Patrick McCrae. “Over the years people started asking about commissions and public art, and lifestyle hotels started approaching us.” In hospitality, Artiq has recently worked on art concepting for the forthcoming Raffles London at The OWO and previously curated the artwork of Belmond Splendido Mare in Portofino, among other projects spanning 20 countries. “One reason Artiq exists is to show that creativity pays, so when we do international projects it’s important for us to support the creative local economy and that actually fits in really well with the idea of creating a local narrative,” he says. Artiq’s recent work has also encompassed public art initiatives, such as the City Vistas, and the curation of art collections for firms like Kingsley Napley LLP, for which the focus falls on how companies want to benefit the people using that space.
Opposite page Top image: Latoya Okuneye
This page Top image: Jo Lewis
Bottom image: Maya Campbell
Bottom: Photography by Mattia Aquila for Splendido Mare
Above image: Olly Fathers
“We start by finding out why this art collection needs to exist and from that pull together the narrative. For an organisation, it’s often about highlighting their values. One of the really strong narratives at the moment is around reflecting a company’s dedication to inclusion.” To celebrate Pride London 2022, Artiq worked with Brookfield Properties to present Queer Frontiers: An Exhibition Celebrating the Work of Ashton Attzs across six buildings in the Square Mile. Wellbeing is high on the agenda too, with research undertaken in recent years around the positive impact of art on people occupying the workplace in particular. “There are so many statistics around how creativity and culture are vital life streams in our society and, this is a
drum Artiq bangs, that more businesses should be engaging in arts and culture because it really does benefit them.” According to a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group, four out of five individuals enjoy greater wellbeing if they participate in art and culture activities. A University of Oxford study found a 32 percent increase in productivity when staff had access to artwork in the office, 78 percent felt an increase in wellbeing and 94 percent recognised an increase in their feeling of belonging. From the interiors of hotels to public areas and the workplace, art’s impact on the people using that space is irrefutable. Whether it’s anchoring occupants in the locale or creating a greater sense of inclusion, art proves powerful in influencing our overall experience and connecting us to the spaces we live, work and socialise in.
Top left image: Photography by David Parry/ PA Wire on behalf of Brookfield Properties Left image: Ninety-One
Top right image: Betty Leung Above image: Phoebe Boddy
Loveable living: can BTR build community? Recent years have seen a build-to-rent boom, but how can the model deliver positive social outcomes, embed culture and create thriving places to live? We explore an optimistic vision, in this Mix Roundtable with Amtico. Words and moderated by: Harry McKinley
Brooke Radtke Senior Associate Woods Bagot
Rachel Coll Director Tigg + Coll
Helen Davis Head of Interior Design Whittam Cox
Melodie Peters Interior Designer BDP
Helen Helm BTR Manager Amtico
Iain Casagranda Business Development Director
Rennie Dalrymple Managing Director
Harry McKinley Managing Editor
In partnership with
Our cities are rising up; our urban centres now dominated by towering pillars of glass and steel. Yet as workplaces and retail spaces shrink, these glossy new buildings are increasingly dedicated to a different type of inner-city industry: rented residential. For some, the built-to-rent model is seen as a dystopian nightmare – soulless structures housing transient populations. Numerous headlines have touted their role in hollowing out communities and keeping locals off the property ladder. But how much of this is hot air and misconception? There is, as our roundtable of industry experts attest, a much more positive take. At the Southwark offices of Amtico, in an area abundant with successful redevelopment, we’ve gathered to discuss the merits of BTR and its potential role in shaping the future of city life. We start by exploring what community actually means to each. “Community to me is about creating and offering happy spaces for people to be happy in,” explains Tigg + Coll’s Rachel Coll. For Concert’s Rennie Dalrymple it’s a “sense of belonging and an environment in which people enjoy being with one another.”
Ownership is nodded to repeatedly, part of what defines community for BDP’s Melodie Peters, Woods Bagot’s Brooke Radtke and Whittam Cox’s Helen Davis. “We’re essentially pack animals,” says Amtico’s Helen Helm. “We do better when we form human connections. That gives us stability and stability is part of community.” These are all favourable, aspirational ideals and yet, for some, not those which spring to mind when considering BTR – something seemingly at odds, for residents at least, with ownership and stability. “It’s not an accurate perception,” opines Peters. “There’s a widespread idea that if people don’t own then they aren’t interested in community and won’t take as much care of their home; that they won’t invest any time or effort in it. But it’s a very UK mentality, as ownership is thought of very differently on the continent. In other parts of Europe, people like to rent.” For Dalrymple, there’s a generational divide. “It goes back to the 80s and Thatcherism, then the legacy of
that continuing into the 90s,” he explains. “The notion of owning a council house was held up as a new social aspiration; that owning was always better than not. But, putting aside the general economic pressures of owning these days, there’s a younger generation more invested in sharing. They don’t need to own stuff and yet they’re much better at building communities. So yes, there’s the theory that if something isn’t yours, you’re not invested in it, but with a new generation that doesn’t ring true.” That these negative ‘myths’ abound so abundantly at all is a point of frustration for Davis, who believes in the power of BTR to deliver a genuinely revolutionary and beneficial way of living. “Everyone in my organisation is passionate about this sector. We recognise the criticism, but it isn’t accurate
and we’ll stand up for BTR. It’s a model progressing so quickly and there’s such quality work happening, that the only thing is that people are still struggling to get their heads around it. It’s new and with anything new, it’s taking time for some to understand the benefits.” The naysayers addressed and fallacies shattered, what are the benefits then? “Well BTR can actually bring new and different people into a neighbourhood,” says Coll. “It can attract people who wouldn’t ordinarily be there because they couldn’t afford to buy, and that diversity can really add a vibrancy to communities.” “That’s of huge social benefit to neighbourhoods,” continues Radtke. “Plus offering people who can’t yet buy, affordable, quality housing, in good locations, is hugely significant in and of itself. BTR is quite
embryonic in the grand scheme of things, but it presents a huge opportunity to actually grow communities; to be a seed of economic potential, with a community of residents that is going to spend in those areas.” With the model now positioned as a force for wider good, we turn to the cultures being cultivated within. Here, design has a seismic role to play in creating environments that people want to be in. “As humans we love the grain of the city and the grain of an environment,” explains Iain Casagranda, Gleeds. “To that end we don’t want monocultural towers. Through design you can create permeability with the surrounding area, with public areas that welcome in external people from the neighbourhood. Then it’s about meaningful facilities that occupiers will use,
whether it’s coworking or hospitality-driven spaces, and creating opportunities for interaction.” “And social influences change,” continues Helm. “Who knew that home working would become so vital? So you need adaptable spaces that aren’t slaves to trends; building on top of a good quality design and product foundation.” Agreeing, Casagranda points out early investment is key: “That upfront spend on great materials is vital for creating atmosphere, longevity and giving people pride in where they live.” For Dalrymple, there’s an economic argument in design that inspires and comforts but, crucially, fosters contact between residents. “I saw some research that
pointed out if a person has even one friend in a building, they’re 80% more likely to renew their contract. If they feel a part of an even wider community within the building, it skyrockets to 95%. You see, from a cost engineering perspective, one of the biggest challenges is often getting developers to understand the need for investment in amenity space that, on paper, doesn’t generate a significant, immediate return. But there’s a connection to be made between money spent on creating these spaces and revenue, because it really does impact the viability of the project and likelihood that occupiers will feel connected to it, build connections with others and ultimately decide to stay.” When viewed this way, it’s clear many of the established notions around BTR are built on shaky foundations. Many of the communities developed within these projects are, demonstrably, neither
transient or unattached to their homes, despite renting; they arguably aren’t responsible for decimating neighbourhoods, but instead can become focal points of programming activations and social interaction; and, as Davis points out, they aren’t just for the young, with older people increasingly drawn to the central locations, plentiful amenities and sense of community they can provide. The key, then, seems to be in how well designed they are and successfully they are managed. On the former front, the responsibility lies with some of those at the table. “As designers, we need to conceive and realise spaces that live up to the potential of what BTR could be and represent,” says Peters. “But there’s an incredible opportunity to shape the future and, ultimately, create meaningful places to live.”
Mixology North22 Massive Thanks to
Mixology North is, for the Mix Media team, one of the highlights of the year. Not only is it our great and continued pleasure to celebrate the best of commercial interior design, but we get to do it on our own turf – welcoming industry friends from near and far to the city we call home. Nearly 1200 of the industry came together in December to celebrate this year’s winners and finalists in Manchester – from ground-breaking materials and innovative products to ultra-sustainable and mouldshattering projects, as well as the teams that create them. The awards recognised another year of exceptional creativity from the North of the UK and, for 2022, we received a record number of entries, demonstrating that while we may not always be fortunate with the weather, it’s far from grim up North. In true Mixology North style, the evening featured an abundance of gravity-defying, pyrotechnics-filled entertainment, plus dancefloor classics courtesy of discohouse legends The Shapeshifters. Held at our regular home, Manchester Central, our diverse audience from across the UK dressed to impress – with some taking our Moroccan Nights theme to heart in bold, Arabianinspired colours and fanciful silhouettes. Our audience was in particularly celebratory mood as we also marked a night of firsts: including a double win in the Design Practice of the Year category – with two studios so close in calibre that our judges could not separate them. Here we look back at the dazzling night. For full event photography visit mixinteriors.com
P roduct of the Year
03 Ege Carpets
07 IVC Commercial
11 Shaw Contract
04 Forbo Flooring Systems
12 Woodworks by Ted Todd
Creation Collection 2022
LVT Versailles Panel
Created by Mac Stopa
The Kindred Collection
Tarkett UK DESSO Origins Tarkett’s DESSO Origin has the lowest circular carbon footprint for a carpet tile in Europe – 1.40 kg CO2/m2 – a figure six times lower than its competitors. As part of Tarkett’s innovative ReStart programme, carpet tiles from the DESSO Origins collection can be returned, resulting in a fully closed-loop recycling scheme.
P roduct of the Year
Lighting, Tech & Accessories
01 Fitzroy of London
04 OE Electrics
02 FUTURE Designs
06 Synergy Creativ and Strom + Overgaard
Hevea Partition Tromsø Grid
Abstracta Holly Acoustic Light Inspired by the holly bush’s clustering of berries, the Holly Acoustic Light plays with the contrasts between light, reflection and shadows. Made from steel, glass and a recycled textile and polyester mix, Holly is available in two versions – a vertical style suitable for high-ceiling spaces, and a horizontal alternative to be suspended over large areas.
P roduct of the Year
Loose Furniture 01 Abstracta
04 Morph Bricks
The Room for Zoom
EFG Hybe EFG presents Hybe, its hybrid seating range designed in collaboration with design studio, Form Us With Love. Created to meet tomorrow’s needs for mobile seating and meeting spaces, Hybe allows for reconfigurable spaces that promote productivity and creativity.
Product of the Year
08 Skandiform by Kinnarps
Profim Revo Icon
Solidwool Hembury Chair Born from the desire to create something beautiful yet purposeful, founders Justin and Hannah Floyd created Solidwool – a unique composite made up of British Herdwick Wool and bio-resin, producing a fibreglass look-and-touch. New custodians Roger Oates Design have redesigned the Hembury Chair, now with twice as much wool as the initial conception, and half the amount of bio-resin.
Product of the Year
07 UNILIN Panels
03 Johnson Tiles
09 Woven Image
PerfectSense Texture TM9
Strata Technical Stone Marble
Pico & Gem Embossed Acoustic Panels
CDUK PaperStone PaperStone® is a new generation sustainable material, made from recycled paper with natural resin, the surface has a unique, textured effect creating an organic warmth, which can be specified in a range of natural hues. Eleven rich, tactile colours across two ranges and a range of thicknesses provide a broad spectrum of surface design solutions.
P roduct of the Year
05 Nowy Styl
Timmy Libro H1050
Humanscale Path Embodying a shift in sustainable and inclusive office design, Path is comprised of approximately twenty-two pounds of recycled content, including ocean plastic, post-consumer plastic bottles, and post-industrial material. Building on the brand’s pioneering seating technology, Path uses the sitter’s weight and form to adjust perfectly to everybody without the need to operate complicated manual controls.
Manufacturer of the Year
01 Dams Furniture
04 Knauf Ceiling Solutions
08 Tarkett UK
03 Johnson Tiles
09 Your Workspace
EGGER Leading manufacturer of wood-based materials, EGGER’s Biomass Plant at Hexham saves 71,000 tonnes of CO2 by burning usable wood residue, generating renewable energy to heat the thermal oil used by production and office buildings. Waste material is reused, either as raw material for board or, if no longer suitable, to fuel the energy plant.
Project of the Year
Bar & Leisure Interiors 01 Concorde BGW Group
04 JSA Design
05 Openhome and MONIKA Studio
The Horse and Guardsman, London
The Alchemist, Manchester Kitten Bar & Restaurant, Manchester
Alberts Schloss, Birmingham
ōH Concept Store, Chester Pollen Bakery, Manchester
Sheila Bird Studio New Century, Manchester Once the place that hosted the stars of 1960s pop culture, Sheila Bird Studio’s New Century revives a forgotten part of Manchester’s cultural heritage and catalyses the activation of the emerging NOMA neighbourhood. A new concept for the venue combines music, events, food, drink and education in one powerful ecosystem.
Project of the Year
01 KKA Interiors
02 Martin Hulbert Design
04 The Vices
Hilton Garden Inn, Silverstone No.1 York
Leonardo Hotels, Manchester The Vices, York
Koncept ID Radisson, Liverpool Previously used as student accommodation, Koncept ID has transformed the iconic North Western Hotel, a ten storey, grade II listed 19th century building into Radisson RED, a stylish 201-bed boutique hotel. A raw aesthetic honours the building’s original features, softened with luxurious materials including marbles, velvets, leathers and sumptuous rugs to create a decadent feel.
Project of the Year
03 KKA Interiors
02 Jasper Sanders + Partners
04 Stride Treglown
Pin Yard, Leeds The Keel, Liverpool
The Aspen, Leicester Bridle Works, Glasgow
SpaceInvader Novella, Salford SpaceInvader have completed the ground floor amenity space for Novella, a new-build residential development within the vibrant new riverside district of New Bailey. Novella combines striking design with luxury amenities, including 24-hour concierge and communal lounges, a podium roof garden, residents’ gym and wellness suite to build community and create the perfect work-life balance.
P roject of the Year
Positive Impact 01 Bluesky Design
04 Openhome and MONIKA Studio
02 DAY Architectural
05 ID:SR Sheppard Robson
2 Hardman Street, Manchester
Bowman’s Restaurant, Wirral University Teaching Hospital
ōH Concept Store, Chester
Copperas Hill, Liverpool John Moores University
Forget Me Not Centre, Lancaster
Ingo Interiors Yorkshire Housing at ‘The Place’, Leeds The first zero carbon workspace in Yorkshire, Ingo turned Yorkshire Housing Association’s 10,000 sq ft space into a hub for sustainability, innovation and technology. With the implementation of triple glazed windows, thick insulation and airtightness, the building retains most of its heat and does not require central heating – saving approximately £200,000 per annum.
Project of the Year
Public Sector & Cultural Interiors 01 5plus Architects
05 DAY Interior Design
University Centre Warrington
Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport
Sheffield Hallam University Atrium
07 ID:SR Sheppard Robson
Copperas Hill, Liverpool John Moores University
The B Hive, Wrexham Glyndwr University
06 Fairhursts Design Group
Heart & Lung Research Institute, Cambridge
FaulknerBrowns Architects City Hall, Sunderland Within an ongoing, £500m regeneration project transforming the city, City Hall is a transparent hub for community engagement and a catalyst for change. At the heart of the building, a striking steel staircase celebrates Sunderland’s history of making, and fosters connection between the different workspaces.
P roject of the Year
Workplace Interiors Sub 5k sq ft
01 Claremont Group Interiors
04 Jackson Downes
02 Eatock Design & Build
05 Opus 4
03 Fairhursts Design Group &
06 Studio HART
Claremont House, Warrington
Bruntwood SciTech Alderley Park, Macclesfield
07 Workshop Design Studio
J’adore Models, Manchester
Yorkshire Stainless Steel, Rotherham ABC Astley Lounge, Manchester
Incognito 1 Balloon Street, Manchester The reimagination of 1 Balloon Street has transformed a single occupier building to a multi-let property offering communal workspaces. Taking inspiration from the building’s rich heritage, the design concept reflects both John Sadlers’ hot air balloon and the property’s former use as the Co-operative bank. The new architectural façade and money once housed in the bank vaults influences the rich and bold use of colour.
Project of the Year
Workplace Interiors 5-15k sq ft
01 Chameleon Business Interiors
03 Ingo Interiors
Quickline Communications, Hull
Brabners Lancashire Yorkshire Housing at ‘The Place’, Leeds
Grant Thornton, Birmingham ruCREATIVE Charlton Morris, Leeds
SpaceInvader 11 York Street, Manchester Based on the concept of ‘Manchester’s forgotten garden’, Grade A new-build office 11 York Street’s interiors serve as a tranquil escape for tenants – in contrast with the city’s hustle and bustle. Angles and curves through the space offer a winding circulation to aid discovery and create a positive user journey.
P roject of the Year
Workplace Interiors 15-30k sq ft
01 BDG architecture + design
04 Jasper Sanders + Partners
02 Ekho Studio
05 M1NT Studio
Tate & Lyle UK, London
AstraZeneca UK, London
Manchester International Office Centre
Mahindra Advanced Design Europe (M.A.D.E), Banbury
Fairhursts Design Group Linley House, Manchester Now the home of flexible workspace provider, Clockwise Manchester, Linley House boasts the building’s heritage and a retro colour palette to represent the decade the building was constructed in. As well as serviced offices and meeting spaces FDG has refurbed changing facilities, a café and ample breakout rooms.
Project of the Year
Workplace Interiors 30-70k sq ft
01 Chameleon Business Interiors
02 Claremont Group Interiors
03 DAY Interior Design
McCain Foods UK, Scarborough
Ombudsman Services, Warrington
PZ Cussons, Manchester
PlayStation, Liverpool Arrive: Blue Tower, Salford
Ryder Architecture and Ward Robinson Design Bupa Hong Kong As a cultural and social link between China and the UK, Bupa was inspired by the symbolic nature of tea - welcoming, comforting, and healing. Represented through the warm and natural colour palette, textures, graphics and biophilic design, employees coming together over a cup of tea to collaborate is what this project is all about.
Project of the Year
Workplace Interiors 70k+ sq ft
01 AIS Interiors
04 FaulknerBrowns Architects
02 BDG architecture + design
05 Resonate Interiors
03 Bridge Architects
The Tootal Buildings, Manchester
City Hall, Sunderland
Cadent Gas, Coventry tp bennett
Tyneside EE Contact Centre
Claremont Group Interiors Flutter, Dublin Totalling 164,000 sq ft across seven floors, Flutter’s global HQ in Dublin proves how design can encourage people back into the workplace. The space includes a new statement glazed atrium, 110 meeting spaces, 227 agile spaces and 1070 seated positions and some creative ‘Flutter features’ – such as entering the building through a football tunnel onto a pitch.
Design Practice of the Year
01 APM Design
06 Ekho Studio
02 Claremont Group
07 Fairhursts Design Group
03 Collective Design 04 Concorde BGW Group 01
05 Dale Office Interiors
08 Jasper Sanders + Partners 09 KKA 10 MONIKA Studio
JOLIE brings a unique perspective to the world of commercial and hospitality interior design – embodying the millennial mindset to create spaces where all ages and backgrounds thrive. JOLIE’s research focuses on human behaviour related to sensory experience, collaborating with neuroscientists in each sensory field to carefully source and combine materials and fragrances for each interior. 05
Established nine years ago, tp bennett’s northern practice is a formidable team of talented and innovative designers and architects that share a common purpose: to create bespoke spaces that have a positive impact mentally, physically and environmentally. Working across diverse sectors from high-end retail and hospitality to residential and commercial workplaces enables a constant cross-pollination of ideas and approaches. 09
The Year That Was 2022 marked a new chapter for a postpandemic UK. Free from lockdown restrictions, we made our way back into the office en masse, with hybrid working now a standard practice in the majority of workplaces in the UK. The pandemic may be arguably over (across Europe at least) but collective normality has transformed for the long term, with pre-COVID shifts accelerated in an industry already at the forefront of change. From landmark projects to the muchanticipated return for design festival favourites, we reflect on the events, products, projects and people that shaped Mix, and commercial interior design, in 2022.
People & Projects May 2022 marked the opening of The Office Group’s (TOG) 40th London workspace at 210 Euston Road, in the beating heart of the city’s Knowledge Quarter. The first to launch in the wake of the COVID pandemic, the seven-floor building is one of TOG’s largest to date, and the fourth designed by award-winning practice, Universal Design Studio. Celebrating two decades of design, we spoke to Universal Design Studio’s associate director Carly Sweeney and director Paul Gulati on Universal’s notable portfolio and the landmark project. “Something that has come into our work following Ace Hotel is how we can create a space that works for people that are coming from very different places, and coming there for very different reasons,” adds Gulati. “As a result, much of the work we’ve completed with TOG and newer clients is about finding new ways of making those connections to the locality, bringing in creative and collaborative partners when we can, and offering a meaningful experience.” 100 Shoreditch finally swung open its doors, filling the shoes of Ace Shoreditch – the convention shattering property that many consider a catalyst for a new type of hotel culture. One of the capital’s most prominent openings in years, with 258 rooms, a restaurant, three bars and a coffee shop, there’s still a sense of scale, but the design is more sensitive and mature than its predecessor. We spoke to Lore Group creative director, Jacu Strauss on his impressive design and why his hotels will never be finished. “You need to know what your hotel is about and who it’s for,” commented Strauss. “It’s what I call the secret sauce and it’s difficult to teach. Develop a strong story and it will guide everything that comes afterwards. When you get into the weeds without having the bigger picture, you drown, but if you let your story drive your decision making, you end up
with a better project. It even gives a hotel longevity, in my opinion, because the story will probably outlive me, and therein lies the beauty. If the story is always growing, you might even say my hotels will never be finished.” Fresh from being honoured at the Mixology22 Awards with the Henry Pugh Outstanding Achievement Award, we sat down with Sheppard Robson Partner and Head of ID:SR Helen Berresford to discuss the way we see the BBC and beyond. Working with the broadcaster for 20 years, Berresford headed up the award-winning BBC Cymru project, relocating 1000 employees from its former building in Llandaff, north of Cardiff. The 10-year long process eventually resulted in a diverse range of working and production spaces, designed to thoughtfully reflect its Wales home, support major investment in Welsh broadcasting and, most importantly, shape the future of the broadcaster in such dynamic times. “There was a huge change in how broadcasting was going to work and stay relevant,” she explained. “It was the ultimate sort of purpose-driven building in many respects. Our society has
absolutely transformed, and it was all about building digital into the space.” Another much anticipated opening, Gleneagles new city outpost, Gleneagles Townhouse, opened in Edinburgh after a lengthy transformation. We spoke to designers Layo and Zoe Paskin, fresh from the launch of their own creative-collab studio, on taking Gleneagles from the Perthshire countryside to Edinburgh. The 33-room hotel and members’ club features a vast all-day restaurant on the ground floor and a ritzy rooftop bar. It’s a very different beast to the original rural retreat in Perthshire – one of those hotels so renowned, it has become shorthand for a certain mode of open-fired, tartanaccented Scottish luxury. “We recognised that though Gleneagles is this huge, 100-year-old heritage brand, the audience for Edinburgh was going to naturally be more youthful and diverse,” Zoe explained. “So we considered how Gleneagles Townhouse could be the city dweller, as opposed to the country squire.”
Events Clerkenwell Design Show
After a short hiatus, May saw Clerkenwell awash once again with activity for the 11th edition of Clerkenwell Design Week, with visitors from far and wide gathering to celebrate the latest from the world of design. With a distinct sustainability theme across the festival, over 150 showrooms opened their doors for three days of talks, workshops and festivities, and more exhibitions and installations than ever before. As we hurtle towards a prepandemic sense of normality, it was a pleasure to see the crowds spilling onto Great Sutton Street once again.
Mix 30 Under 30
Coinciding with CDW, we returned to a fully physical 30 Under 30 awards celebration – our annual recognition of the next generation of industry leaders, taking over Senator and Allermuir’s impressive London showroom with our partners Senator, Allermuir, Amtico and Hunters. The volume of entries ensured, as always, fierce competition, but our final class were selected on the basis of their accomplishments and of their potential. It’s what makes 30 Under 30 such an extraordinary event: the celebration not just of talent today, but of what these design-stars-in-the-making can, and will, achieve.
In June, the legends, leaders and bright young things of the commercial interior design industry descended on Evolution London for the Mixology22 Awards. With almost 1500 guests, the swish evening saw an international suite of both nominees and winners; an opportunity for the sector to celebrate another year of innovation, creativity and intelligent problem solving across a variety of arenas, from workplace to hospitality.
Celebrating 20 years, London Design Festival returned to the capital on 17-25 September 2022, with an exciting line up of events, installations and thought leadership. Greenwich now plays host to its very own District, featuring Design London at Magazine and dazzling creative hub, London Design District. Landmark projects included the impressive Henge installation, created from 150-million-year-old Jurassic limestone by Stanton Williams Architects and LSI Stone, and Sabine Marcelis’ ‘Swivel’ chair installation at St Giles Square using SolidNature marble. On the River, new fixture Material Matters found its home at the Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, acting as a platform for a range of brands and exciting newcomers from the world of surface and furniture design.
After four long years, workplace furniture fair Orgatec made its return to Cologne on 25-29th October, with the theme ‘New Visions of Work,’ including a special ‘Inspired Hybrid Office’ event exploring what is now possible in terms of technology, workplace planning and hybrid workplace concepts. Over 600 companies from across Europe presented their collections, with a distinct ‘homeification’ theme across the fair thanks to versatile, sector-traversing furniture, lighting and textiles. Sustainability and the circular economy also played an integral role in this year’s fair, with the future agency Haute Innovation introducing a special Materials4Future exhibition featuring various solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of office and contract products. Product highlights included Kvadrat’s Steelcut 3, Steelcut Quartet and a preview of Steelcut Beat, Mara’s space-saving Timmy Libro table and a recycled version of their Loto chair made from post-consumer waste.
Products 01 Connection, Kuppel
Connection’s new Kuppel workbooth is designed to provide seclusion and focus – complete with power and a large tablet arm.
02 Flokk, Profim Revo
05 Pedrali, Buddyhub Desk
An extension to Pedrali’s Buddy family, the Buddyhub Desk uses a perimeter sound-absorbing panel partnered with a solid laminate top to form an enclosed aperture with acoustic and visual seclusion.
Flokk’s Profim Revo family is created using just three moulds. The end result is a collection consisting of sofas, benches, screens, pouffes and tables, all softly contoured with organic shapes.
06 Arper, Ghia
03 Datafelx - Bento Range
07 NowyStyl, WithME
At Orgatec, Dataflex expanded its Bento range with a new Laptop Table and moveable Desktop Locker, designed for ultimate flexibility and functionality in office spaces.
04 Tarkett, Lino Collection
One of Tarkett’s longest-standing products, their new biobased Lino Collection marks the transformation of a classic flooring range into a contemporary and environmentally friendly surface material.
A geometric table that can be customised and made one’s own thanks to its soft, sculptural forms and tactile, natureinspired materials.
No need to pull, press or turn levers – WithME is an effortless task chair that adapts to one’s weight in an instant.
08 Casual by Bene
Comprised of a bench, lounge chair and table with three different available heights, the Casual collection blends itself well to more relaxed settings.
Events: Surface Design Show 2023
Surface Design Show: see you on the Main Stage Kick-starting the A&D calendar for the best part of two decades, Surface Design Show is back at London’s Business Design Centre from 7-9 February 2023. Providing an ideal opportunity for architect and design experts to mix under one roof, this year’s theme is Shaping Communities.
Guests will see a comprehensive line-up of product launches running the gamut of colour, materiality, sustainability and surface-based installations. Up on the Main Stage, designed by recycling pioneers Smile Plastics, more than 40 speakers have been scheduled in a series of talks. Across two days, Mix’s managing editor, Harry McKinley, and deputy editor, Chloé Petersen Snell, will share revealing discussions with Justine Fox (founder, Studio Justine Fox), Katrina Larkin (chief ESG officer, The Office Group), Shannon Pope-Ellis (managing director, MCM) and Linzi Cassels (principal and design director, Perkins&Will) in the Legends Live series. Conversations will see the industry titans share thoughts and experiences on the importance of building community and how this is achieved. Elsewhere Jonathan Smales, executive chairman of Human Nature, will lead the Opening Night Debate in partnership with CDUK. The fast and furious Pechakucha evening also returns, with speakers rushing to get points across in a 20-slide presentation, with each slide lasting for only 20 seconds. Hosted by BashaFranklin’s creative director, Nicola Osborn, Pechakucha will explore how innovation and partnership enables progression when fostering communities. Now in its 11th year, attendees will also see the return of the Surface Design Awards, with a stellar judging panel including director of Freehaus, Jonathan Hagos, and The Office Group’s former head of design, Nasim Koerting. Last year the BAFTA headquarters in London scooped the Supreme Winner Award on behalf of Benedetti Architects. Bringing emerging talent, industry leaders and 180 exhibitors together, Surface Design Show is set to be an unmissable three days for building meaningful exchanges between manufacturers and the marketplace. surfacedesignshow.com
The award for excellence in British industrial design
The Design Guild Mark is an award for outstanding examples of industrial design by British and Britain-based designers. Designs across 3 disciplines are assessed in person by world class judges who give their time freely to this not-for-profit award programme. Applications for 2023 are open and an application form can be downloaded from designguildmark.org.uk/apply-now
The Global Perspective with Harry McKinley
The China question I recently travelled to a corner of Malaysian Borneo; a gathering of Asia’s senior hotel design community. The 20-something hour journey to get there rather hammered home the sheer distance, and yet geography was not the only marker of two places apart in the world. While in Europe we’ve all but returned to some semblance of post-pandemic ‘normality’, in Asia the spectre of COVID looms still large and close. Just a few weeks before my arrival, Hong Kong had eased its travel restrictions, no longer mandating strict, dayslong hotel quarantines. Those who work in industries requiring international jaunts, including architects and designers, were freer to roam – visiting clients and project sites. Calendars were suddenly full of all of the things that previously didn’t justify the expense and isolation on return; Hong Kong now a city playing catch up. For Mainland China, the borders remain mostly welded shut, of course. Even for residents willing to leave and brave the 10-day quarantine coming back, flights are scant and subject to last minute cancellation. Travel, then, is a lost cause. It’s a sharp change of fortunes for a China that was once seen as buoyant and ripe with opportunity. When it comes to hotel development, it’s still objectively leading the way for Asia Pacific. One construction report estimates 1457 projects underway, representing a titanic 341,223 rooms. To put that in some context, the same report lands Australia in second, with 167 projects. That’s 31,832 rooms, so hardly a comparison.
Yet today is a different day from when many of these projects broke ground, with several of China’s cities frozen in aspic under the country’s oppressive Zero-COVID policies – with businesses closed and residents stuck at home. It’s an approach that is wreaking havoc on the country’s economy and its tightly marshalled social cohesion. Then there’s the issue of shifting global winds. Where once Western nations sought closer cooperation with this emerging superpower, now they are slowing turning their backs – the likes of the USA and the UK citing its rising global influence as a threat and its increasingly authoritarian model as a challenge to the world order and democracy writ large. For operators, a potential challenge – many of them quietly fearing a sudden, Russia-style change in circumstances that would make their presence problematic. There were no attendees from Mainland China at the Borneo gathering, unsurprisingly. Also unsurprising, that China was the hottest topic of discussion. When will it reopen? Should it still be a focus of investment? Is it a hotbed of potential project work, or is it set to dry up? Is it getting too politically messy? What about the expats, lots of them seem to want to leave? Will there be a creative brain drain? They’re all questions that could shape the future of the design landscape not just in Asia, but around the world. And yet, for now, when it comes to the questions hovering around China, there aren’t many easy answers.
Why department store redevelopment could mean something for everybody The fight to save the Oxford Street Marks & Spencer flagship dramatizes the fate of department stores across the country. Demolition is not the only answer. Words: David Thame
It is old, it is big, it is a jumble of buildings, it doesn’t fit with its net zero carbon objectives: according to Marks & Spencer there is no option but to demolish its 160,000 sq ft London Marble Arch store. “Three poorly connected buildings, a warren of dense structures and misaligned floors, not fit for today’s modern customers or staff,” will not be missed, M&S operations director Sacha Berendji said last month. There are plenty who disagree about the fate of the landmark building, as a recent public inquiry heard. The M&S dispute dramatizes a dilemma faced by every UK high street, as landlords seek a future for the UK’s major department stores. Once the majestic flagships of city centre retail, they are now increasingly regarded as hulks in need of repurposing, with offices a popular solution in city centres. In smaller towns like Lichfield, leisure uses predominate with the high street’s former Debenhams about to morph into a boutique cinema. But does a problem have to turn into a crisis? According to those with skin in the game, the difficulties of recycling the large, poorly lit floorplates typical of exdepartment store space can be overcome. Thoughtful design, innovation and patience are required. To see how it can be done, take a look at Clapham. Investor W.RE acquired the Grade II listed Arding & Hobbs department store building in November 2018. It has been part of Battersea’s heritage since 1910, as one of South London’s first purpose-built department stores. Any rail passenger out of Waterloo will have it engraved on their memory. Today’s 160,000 sq ft refurbishment plan seeks to create flexible retail and leisure uses across the ground and basement floors, and introduce 113,000 sq ft of modern office space to the upper floors, with a new rooftop extension to crown the building. This combination of uses will bring new life to the building and an economic boost to Clapham Junction town centre while restoring the heritage of this iconic landmark. Completion is scheduled for mid-2023. “Built for a different purpose in a different era, department stores are interesting from an architectural standpoint,” says chief executive Sascha Lewin. “They
are not standard boxes and have unusual heights and depths. Most of the old department stores have deep floorplates meaning they lack natural light, and this is one of the main challenges for a retrofit. It is also a part of the charm of these buildings.” Luckily for the project team most of the historical features of the A&H building are still present, including a stained glass dome, beautiful but boxed-up arch windows, and a glass barrel roof discovered hidden under a thick layer of paint. So much the better, says Lewin. “We see that occupiers want to be in buildings that inspire, connect with history, connect with community and offer something unique – Arding & Hobbs already does it,” he says. Of course, there are other approaches, some of them radical. Behind the practical problem of squeezing new uses into old spaces sits a bigger conceptual issue: how to make department stores fit for today. Woods Bagot’s principal and retail sector lead, Peter O’Donnell, has been thinking hard about how to do it. The result is the cutely-named Department of Fitness. “The Department of Fitness was broadly based on the department store typology and typical size of the likes of House of Fraser on Oxford Street, with multiple levels of interaction, concession and programme,” he explains. “The ingredient of the concept was more important as it aspired to create a destination space with fitness and wellbeing in mind and one that created a healthy stage between fitness operators and apparel brands across floors – with a central heart activated by food and beverage, town halls and work club environments, opened up to cater for both private and public engagement. With this in mind, size isn’t necessarily important, but a sweet spot needed to create enough space for the ingredients.” Changes to the planning regime – not least the introduction of Use Class E which embraces most commercial uses – smooths the path to some potentially dramatic rethinks of former department store acreage. But as O’Donnell points out, planners don’t need to get heavily involved. “The intention behind The Department of Fitness would focus more on internal programme and refurbishment, so planning enhancements would aim to be limited,” he says.
Opposite: Debenhams, Battersea
Preserving the building’s unique look will require a balance to be struck, including careful curation of potential operators and tenants and a keen eye on the design match. “‘E By Equinox’ St James’s St is a great example of a high end fitness brand within a ‘Building of Merit’ within a conservation area,” he says, pointing to this kind of occupier concept that can work. Nobody expects department stores to go quietly: these buildings were designed to be conspicuous, and their reuse will inevitably attract attention, some of it critical. But an increasingly thoughtful and engaged design community can make the transition smoother – and the future of these former high street monoliths a good deal brighter.
The projects to watch Marks & Spencer are not alone as once iconic department stores reinvent themselves with workspace and office uses proving the most popular solutions. Just a few hundred metres from M&S, John Lewis has been nurturing plans to convert 300,000 sq ft of its 650,000 sq ft Oxford Street flagship into offices. When the scheme was hatched in 2020 it looked like a money spinner, perhaps generating £25m a year rent and a £750m plus asset. A joint venture between Texas-based Hines and Korea’s National Pension Services has been tipped as the likely developer, and a sign that international money is still hot for ex-department store real estate. Step a bit further down Oxford Street and you discover Public Properties Establishment planning to convert 145,000 sq ft of the House of Fraser department store at 318 Oxford Street to offices (upper floors only, with an additional floor added), and at Debenhams and Fenwicks Bond Street office conversion is also on the cards. In Manchester both the former Debenhams on Market Street and the House of Fraser/Kendals store on
Deansgate are slated for large-scale office refurbishment. Debenhams will gain extra floors taking the total to 500,000 sq ft, under plans for new German owners AM Alpha, whilst Investec plan a 540,000 sq ft office redevelopment at Kendals. Birmingham will also see large-scale department store redevelopment. Legal & General plan a workspace and hospitality-lead rethink on the 500,000 sq ft former Rackhams/House of Fraser store.
Reimagining a town centre Lichfield will get its first dedicated cinema for decades, thanks to the collapse of Debenhams – with a boutique movie complex planned on the site of the former department store in the historic Staffordshire town. The scheme will see a 35,000 sq ft four-screen cinema attraction created within the former store in Three Spires, formerly the Three Spires Shopping Centre, which is owned and managed by national commercial property and investment company Evolve Estates. The council has agreed to the formation of a partnership to deliver the cinema and allocated £5,349,000 in funding from the capital programme. Discussions with an operator, which will fit out the cinema element of the building, are progressing. Evolve, which is part of the M Core group and has a £300 million property portfolio, will invest on a 50/50 basis with Lichfield District Council. “Lichfield residents have been crying out for more leisure-focused facilities within the town, and this newly planned district will be anchored by the town’s dedicated cinema and other complementary leisure facilities,” said Phil Murphy, head of asset management for Evolve.
Opposite: E By Equinox
image: taran wilkhu
Rhonda Drakeford is a cross-
disciplinary British designer based in London - founder and creative director of Studio Rhonda since 2018, and Darkroom since 2009. Rhonda’s experimental and playful use of materials, colour and form led her to create acclaimed design store and brand Darkroom. Studio Rhonda, her client-based consultancy, creates interiors, prints and furnishings.
Cork, Siesta Cork I’ve used cork extensively in a commercial conversion of an open-plan office, housed within an old Victorian malt house in Oxfordshire. The warmth and character this natural material brings to the space is extremely grounding and pleasing, and forms a wonderful backdrop to brighter, pop colours. The economic and environmental credentials of this material are huge — sustainably renewable and grown mostly in Portugal, a relatively short carbon footprint hop to the UK.
Richlite, Surface Matter Richlite is an incredibly strong, slim line, composite sheet material made from recycled paper and eco resin. It’s ideal for a variety of uses – developed over 70 years ago for industrial tooling. I used this material in the navy colourway in a collaborative kitchen design with furniture designers Frank. We utilised its durability and nonporous, heat and waterresistant qualities to create a monolithic run of lower cabinets that nodded more towards a furniture aesthetic than a kitchen.
Otex High Performance Adhesion Primer Undercoat, Tikkurila This incredible primer paint means that tiles, kitchen cabinets, furniture and even lighting can be customised with bespoke top colours, with an incredibly professional finish. I’ve recently completed a refurbishment where we applied a custom mural to existing Metro tiles in a bathroom, as well as colour-matching fitted lighting mounts, and repurposing existing furniture. The amount we saved from landfill and the budget was phenomenal.
Split Shift encaustic tiles, Designed by Darkroom and manufactured by Bert & May I designed the first iteration of the Split Shift series of tiles back in 2016 as a collaboration with encaustic tile specialists Bert & May. The three designs can make complete shapes or rotate to create abstracted patterns with infinite levels of customisation. Pigmented cement is hand poured into metal moulds in the traditional Spanish factory, with a charmingly irregular linearity. With the launch of five new earthy tones later this year, the collection is continuously evolving.
Solidwool The brainchild of Justin and Hannah Floyd, Solidwool is a beautiful, sustainable composite material made in the UK, using British Herdwick Wool and bio-resin. Wool is sourced from upland, hill-farmed Herdwick sheep, the iconic breed of the British Lake District. Historically used in the UK carpet industry, demand for this wool has declined and is currently one of the lowest value in the UK - reaching a point where the cost to shear the sheep can be more than the sale value, with some farmers resorting to burning the fleeces. Combining the coarse and hardy wool with a unique bio-resin results in a sustainable alternative to injection moulded plastics – think fibreglass. A natural dark grey fleece with lighter guard hairs, the resulting material is visibly textured and offers uniqueness to each sheet. Traditionally the resins used in composites manufacture are 100% petrochemical and have varying levels of toxicity and a large carbon footprint – Solidwool has developed a bio-resin with 50% bio-based renewable content, sourced from waste streams of other industrial processes such as wood pulp and bio-fuels production. Currently, the company focuses on its ultra-sustainable Hembury chair, made from 88% sustainable materials. Each chair is made from one fleece; the wooden legs made using sustainably sourced British Ash handturned in Somerset, and the frame using recycled steel crafted in Peterborough. Each shell is then created, hand-finished and assembled by a small team in Devon. Future plans include a stacking version of the Hembury chair, new colours and recycled fibre experiments. “We are developing new products and looking at other underused wools and recycled materials,” Floyd comments. “There are many opportunities for Solidwool and we are sure that whatever we do next, will be done with the same ethos; a love of design, a passion for wool and a commitment to creating beautiful materials without compromising the planet.” Images courtesy of Solidwool
The Final Word with Mike Walley
For every action Newton’s third law states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. When it comes to workplace design and operation this couldn’t be more accurate, particularly when it comes to hybrid working and its unintended consequences. During the pandemic we conducted large scale consultations and got a very clear message back from the vast majority of employees (96%) that they wanted a fully hybrid way of working. We happily agreed as it was ‘the will of the people’ and it aligned with our developing strategies around office space. Everybody wins you would think as, for the majority of people, it provides access to a work life balance only dreamt of by older generations of workers. For a small group though, it is a change they didn’t ask for and don’t want. We have reduced space to match the number of people that want to come to the office daily. We have redesigned the offices to support the new working patterns and we have provided a wide variety of work settings to support the tasks of the day. But a small minority (globally we are seeing 1.5% of population) want to continue working in the same way they have always done and can be quite aggrieved that this is no longer the norm. Therein lies the problem for a workplace manager. How am I able to provide fixed desks for this minority and ensure that when others from their teams come into the office, they are able to sit together?
I liken it to baking a cake for a group of people, one of whom would prefer it to be sugar free. There are only two options, bake an entirely separate cake with all the inconvenience and cost that that entails, or go with the majority demand and leave someone unhappy. It is impossible to meet both requirements in one cake. But, as a workplace manager, my raison d’etre is to make everyone happy. I still have not worked out how to square this circle. The second issue is a slower burn problem. The more companies lean into hybrid working and take advantage of a wider talent pool – recruiting people who live further and further away from the office – the lower the demand for the hub offices will become. This indirectly makes them more expensive, and it will increase the demand for smaller sites at locations in which small groups of employees form. Recruit any supervisory position in a remote location and the first hire they make will be close to them, and the second, and so on, until you find you have 20 people working for the company in a small town a four-hour drive from the nearest office. It is impractical to open multiple small sites around the globe. It has negative financial and cultural impacts, but can we really say you can be hybrid as long as you are within a certain radius of the office? Perhaps it is time to more accurately define the difference between remote and hybrid.
M ike W alley is Senior Director of Global Real Estate & Workplace Strategy at C riteo