Mix Interiors 215 - September 2021

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Mix Interiors 215

September 2021

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Contents INSIGHT





SEVEN WAYS TO ELIMINATE FURNITURE LANDFILL We sit down with Mixology21 finalists JPA Workspaces to discuss delivering furniture solutions with minimal environmental impact


ASTROLOGY FOR BUSINESS OR EMOTIONAL FITNESS? M Moser’s Steve Gale looks at the psychology of workplace design


MATERIAL MATTERS This month, Fettle’s Tom Parker and Andy Goodwin offer up a selection of their favourite material products


DESERT ISLAND DESKS Susie Harrison, Head of Creative, AIS


NEIL USHER Paradoxically Speaking: Change


PROPERTY Plug-and-play is shaping up to be the new normal in the UK office sector. It’s going to mean big changes – but there’s nothing to fear, David Thame reassures us



Coworking post-pandemic: how to stay ahead of the curve

30 UNDER 30 40

30 UNDER 30 REVIEW Six industry experts give us their highs, lows and learnings from 2020

48 ADAPTIVE REUSE AND SOCIETAL RESTORATION Ever since buildings have been built, they have been repurposed. How can existing building assets remain relevant in a changing world?

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the importance of colour and surfaces when designing multi-sensory spaces


CASE STUDY: AUOTDESK, LONDON We look at the story behind the new London home of Autodesk from Tetris


CASE STUDY: CHAUCER, LONDON Scott Brownrigg’s interior design team recently completed the fit-out of the impressive new headquarters for the Chaucer specialty (re) insurance group in the heart of the City of London


76 CASE STUDY: MONDRIAN SHOREDITCH Goddard Littlefair are inspired by the vibrant community of East London at Mondrian’s much anticipated Shoreditch qoutpost 84

THE FINAL WORD Mike Walley, Senior Director of Global Real Estate & Workplace Strategy at Criteo

Mix 215 September 2021 | 1


A word from Mick

Get in touch

I’m confused (not that it takes that much most of the time!). I’m struggling to get to grips with people’s working patterns as they return (or don’t return) to their places of work. I may have said this before once or twice, but – by luck rather than good management – I have, for the past 20+ years, worked what the majority of people would consider to be unusual working hours, with home being my base – possibly not dissimilar to the ‘new’ working patterns of many. So, in pretty normal fashion, I recently found myself reverse commuting into London at 5pm-ish. I was surprised to see that the opposite platform at Stratford station (which connects Essex and Canary Wharf, of course) was packed full of people. I didn’t know whether to be happy at the site of such normality or depressed by the fact that we’ve clearly learnt nothing from this pandemic. If there’s one good thing that could come out of all this it’s surely the realisation that we don’t need to (nor should we) cram ourselves onto platforms, trains and buses twice a day just so that we arrive at work at 9am and leave again at 5.30pm? Is this madness ‘the old normal’? To make all of this more confusing, I arrived in the City just 15 minutes later and it was still relatively quiet! So I can’t even blame it on the financial sector! Like I said, I’m confused.

EDITOR Mick Jordan mick@mixinteriors.com MANAGING DIRECTOR Marcie Incarico marcie@mixinteriors.com BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Kate Borastero kate@mixinteriors.com EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE Chloe Petersen Snell chloe@mixinteriors.com

The cover THE LOGO This month’s cover logo was designed by LOM architecture and design, who looked to work with the irregular linear pattern of the background and the highlights shown through the layer of white. WWW.LOM-ARCHITECTURE.COM

THE COVER IMAGE Inspired by Karndean’s own mission to push boundaries and empower a sense of possibility, this month’s cover presents an abstract representation of design as an endless journey of discovery with lines of intersecting colour extracted from natural textures and various landscapes creating sense of movement. COURTESY OF KARNDEAN

DESIGNER Tammi Bell tamzin@tamzinrosedesigns.com FOUNDING PUBLISHER Henry Pugh CONTRIBUTORS Steve Gale, David Thame Mike Walley, Neil Usher ADDRESS Unit 2 Abito, 85 Greengate, Manchester M3 7NA TELEPHONE 0161 519 4850 EMAIL editorial@mixinteriors.com WEBSITE www.mixinteriors.com TWITTER @mixinteriors INSTAGRAM @mix.interiors LINKEDIN Mix Interiors

Printed by S&G Print ISSN 1757-2371

Get your own To ensure that a regular copy of Mix Interiors reaches you or to request back issues, call 0161 519 4850 or email lisa@mixinteriors.com ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION CHARGES UK single £45.50, Europe £135 (airmail), Outside Europe £165 (airmail)

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HEAD OF OPERATIONS Lisa Jackson lisa@mixinteriors.com


The North will rise again Diary date: 9 December 2021 Venue: Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, Manchester


e’re back! Entries for Mixology North21 are now open. Enter your projects, products and teams by 11 October 2021 to be in with a chance of winning an iconic Mixology trophy. Please submit your entries by 17:00 on Monday 11 October – after which submissions will close and our independent panel of experienced architects, designers, developers, agents and end users will get to work deciding the finalists for each category. This year we will be accepting projects and products completed in the past TWO years due to the postponement of last year’s event. Your product/project needs to have been manufactured/completed between September 2019 and September 2021 to be eligible. Entries must either represent a project based in the North or a business based in the North (North is classed as Midlands up to and including Scotland and Northern Ireland). Entries will be judged on merit, regardless of company size – and it is FREE and easy to enter! To enter the Mixology North21 Awards go to mixinteriors.com – if this is your first year entering the awards you will need to create an account on our online awards platform. Remember, you can start and go back to your entry at any time before submitting.w

MixInspired: Human-centred design


fter a brief hiatus, we’re delighted to be back with another insightful MixInspired seminar, which will be held on 14th October at Milliken’s showroom in Clerkenwell, in partnership with Milliken and Luctra. MixInspired is now established as one of the commercial interior design’s leading networking events for over seven years, bringing together a panel of key figures from the world of workplace, hospitality, and commercial living to share their views on the burning issues affecting the industry, with audience guests from A&D, D&B and the property market. For this latest event we will discuss a topic at the forefront of both designers’ and end users’ thinking right now. Outside of fulfilling the basic needs such as a place to sit and work, the design of a space impacts upon the emotional state of any person who interacts with it. The discussion theme for next month’s event focuses on the importance of human-centred design in helping create positive workplace environments that improve mental health and wellbeing and support a neurodiverse workforce. Our expert panel comprises Neil Usher, author, workplace guru (our words, not his) and Mix columnist, Ben Channon, Director at Ekkist, Dr Jo Yarker, Director at Affinity Health at Work, and Ben Cross, Associate at General Projects.w

Diary date: 14 October 2021 Venue: Milliken Showroom, 5 Berry St, London EC1V 0AA This event is free to attend and open to architects, designers and property professionals. Places are limited, find out more and book your place at mixinteriors.com or scan the QR code.

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The Only Way…


roadbase has recently completed a project for Essex-based infrastructure firm, Nexus. The project consolidates 300 staff from four areas of the business, bringing people into one purposebuilt office where Coffey Architects was appointed as the architect. Broadbase initially provided furniture consultancy services for Nexus’ new headquarters in Braintree, Essex. After gaining an understanding of what the client required in terms of how they want their staff to work and how the new office functions, Broadbase advised that expertise from an interior architect with knowledge of workplace strategy would be beneficial. This resulted in KKS Savills being appointed, with Broadbase working closely with them on the fit-out, furniture specification and the choice of finishes. The client needed workstations but also space for staff to work away from their desks to collaborate in breakout areas, plus formal and informal meeting areas. Broadbase also undertook a storage audit to advise the different departments on how much space they needed in what is quite a document-heavy sector. One of the key successes here is the establishment of a proper meeting suite, which now serves as a client-facing area. There were also conversations with Nexus’s IT department around futureproofing. To address this, an Orangebox meeting room table was favoured, which has a surface-mounted power box, enabling tech to be easily replaced. Each floor has a teapoint with a soft seating area, while there are also quiet working areas – which are suitable for video calls – and circular hot desks from Task Systems, which include much-needed power points. The ground floor is home to the front of house and reception space, the HR department and a café lounge. The project clearly demonstrates how bringing in the right project team at the right time pays dividends in establishing a truly collaborative working environment.w

A grand gesture, down to the smallest detail. We are releasing our most sustainable product series ever. A new range of cable guides made completely from recycled plastic that doesn’t only look good, but’s also better for the environment.

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So clear up the clutter and make your office look beautiful with Dataflex cable guides. www.dataflex.-int.com Broadbase HQ, Essex


Talking the PLANQ We know from chatting with our specifier friends that sourcing new products has been far from easy throughout the pandemic. Now, however, with showrooms open, UK-wide travel possible and brands eager to unveil exciting developments, specifiers needn’t worry about their homes becoming sample storage facilities.


e too were eager to get back among the world of new product developments – and were immediately rewarded for our energy when we were directed towards PLANQ, an exciting new sustainable furniture brand from the Netherlands, which is available in the UK through ByBailey. Talk about on-trend, PLANQ’s aim is to inspire the world by making beautiful designs from waste-materials. ‘Our mission is simple: to create a better tomorrow,’ PLANQ’s Anthony Gray tells us. ‘It is also to inspire others to have a positive impact on the fashion and furniture industry. Hence, we mix these two worlds in one unexpected solution: our design furniture and custom-made products.’ PLANQ began its journey when twin brothers Anton and Dennis conducted a study about the textile industry. They concluded that approximately 150 million tons of fashion is sold yearly, from which a large amount ends up in landfill or gets burned. As a solution, they developed an innovative veneer material made from textile waste, called PLANQtextile. This newly developed PLANQtextile veneer, together with their passion for designing,

only are our designs inspired by necessity, but the products also are not harmful to the environment,’ Anthony says. ‘As designers, we therefore believe it’s our duty to make the furniture industry more circular. We aim to do this by bridging the gap between environmental consciousness and contemporary design. ‘PLANQ’s innovative approach to design and manufacturing has allowed us to use discarded textiles turning them into a valuable resource and saving them from landfill. Our process is completely focused on the ‘circular design and economy’ using only materials that can be recycled or repurposed at the end of life creating a closed loop system!’ These materials include recycled jeans from post-consumer resources or fashion brands, recycled flight attendant clothing from the Royal Dutch Airline (KLM), recycled clothing from the Dutch army and recycled jute coffee bags from the coffee and chocolate industry. ‘We are set to launch a campaign collaborating with leading A&D firms by putting PLANQ donation clothing boxes within their spaces to allow their people to donate unloved clothes,’ Anthony continues. ‘This is a drive to

the fashion and textile industry. Innovation and design can play a huge part in changing the way we design current and future built environments.’ PLANQtextile is a self-developed veneer made from textile waste and biobased resources, such as flax and jute. After a long development process with key partners, we created a process to shred the textile into fibres, which are carded into a felt material,’ Anthony exlains. ‘Once it reaches this stage, we then press the felt material with a biodegradable binder into a veneer with a size of 3,000 x 1,000 mm. ‘The PLANQtextile lends itself perfectly as seating for our chairs, as tabletops and as shelves for the Cubics. The material is glued with reversible glue and created to be reused. PLANQtextile shows how unique furniture is made from this recycled material. ‘In our material library we have standard colours made from only 100% recycled textile, combined with a biodegradable plastic made of potato or corn starch.’ This is not just good – it’s double good. So, you design firms out there, check out PLANQ and get involved with your very own donation

resulted in creating sustainable furniture. ‘Not

build awareness of the impact of waste from


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Buzz Words


ariety and choice are clearly top of the agenda when it comes to the post-pandemic workplace (just take a read of pretty much any of our recent Roundtable events). Well, if there’s one brand that provides both in spades, it’s BuzziSpace. New from Belgium’s finest is BuzziNest – a unique collection of acoustical booths and pods distinguished by their incredible ability to reduce noise both from the inside and outside. Featuring built-in castors that accommodate quick layout changes, BuzziNest is a versatile solution that has been developed to create happier and healthier contemporary workspaces. Designed to act as a freestanding room within a room, BuzziNest comes in two models: BuzziNest Booth and BuzziNest Pod. The compact acoustic privacy Booth (1.2m2) for one offers a private space to work and take phone/video calls, while BuzziNest Pod (3m2) allows two to four people to hold face-to-face meetings, collaborations and video conferences in any space without disturbing others and, most importantly, being disturbed. BuzziNest offers a luxe upholstered exterior that is visually appealing and


at the same time significantly reduces noise in the space. The interior of BuzziNest is built using acoustic panels to ensure maximum peace and quiet on the inside. BuzziSpace has built-in a fresh air ventilation system and an LED lighting system, both powered by motion sensor to eliminate unnecessary electricity use but, at the same time, guaranteeing that each user enters a booth filled with fresh air. A main power outlet and two USB (A+C) plug-ins are built into the room’s furniture to eliminate workflow disruption.

Meanwhile, BuzziHug is designed as a temporary stand-up desk as well as a privacy booth for one, ensuring both visual and acoustic privacy. The booth’s geometric shape appears structural to divide and define open office spaces, while simultaneously creating a visual statement and an aesthetic choice to boost employee motivation. The half-enclosed cylinder is made using acoustic materials on the exterior to create a welcoming, safe, yet noise-reduced space for workplace concentration, phone calls, video conferences, and a lot more.w

Plus Points


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ince its launch in 1999, Innermost has collaborated with unique brands to bring customers the finest designs – and that very much remains its goal today. Innermost has an innovative approach to lighting and furniture design. Founded in London and working with designers from all over the world, Steve Jones and Russell Cameron have created a diverse brand, developing products of the highest quality. Now, with the launch of Innermost Plus, the original manufacturing skills and the innovative Innermost own brand will remain, while new, complimentary brands will be welcomed to the fold alongside it.

innovation and interest to inspire our UK customers and now there is no design area we can’t cater for.’ The new brands will be stocked at the Innermost Plus modern distribution centre and factory in Telford, which has facilities for bespoke finishing and assembly. ‘We will stock all the brands from our European partners here in the UK to avoid the delays that many have been struggling with since Brexit,’ said Steve. ‘Our facilities for bespoke finishing and assembly will mean that imported brands will have the same tailoring resources as our own creations. ‘Innermost Plus isn’t just providing

Innermost Co-founder, Steve Jones, comments: ‘Over the coming months, we will be adding some really exciting brands to our collection, as we become the sole UK distributors for them in both decorative and technical lighting. Our aim is to bring

a product – we combine supply with supportive advice, tailored solutions and great after-sales service. We’re here for design and here for our clients.’ w

Ark de Triomphe


oncert has recently completed work on the Meridian Park data centre, located in North London, having been appointed by Ark Data Centres to the roles of cost manager and principal designer on this exciting development, which ensured sustainability was a key focus in the transformation of the brownfield site. This innovative North London site benefits from electrical power generated from Edmonton EcoPark, which turns waste into low carbon energy. Work began in 2019 and the site was developed over four phases, of which Concert was involved throughout. The finished scheme delivered a total of 16MW of white space over 7nr Data Halls, cooled by indirect evaporative cooling units housed on external plant gantries. The site was previously a distribution centre, which required extensive adaptations including a new external envelope and the construction external plant gantries. The ground floor slab was also replaced to improve loading capacity and a new mezzanine floor was constructed, improving space utilisation and transforming the space into a cutting-edge tier 3 data centre facility. As is common with brownfield sites, some further localised remediation was necessary, which was managed effectively to minimise impact to the delivery programme. The project employed the use of the NEC3 form of contract, placing the contracts on a design & build basis with the addition of a formal gain-share mechanism to promote collaboration and create measurable benefit from improved performance by all parties involved. Commenting on the success of the project, Daniel Wright, Concert Director said: ‘We have worked successfully on several projects for Ark Data Centres for over a decade now and I am always impressed with their commitment to social responsibility and their pioneering approach to sustainable development.’ w

London Showroom 25 Bastwick Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3PS




ways to eliminate furniture landfill

Is it time to look past the furniture you have purchased and take a closer look at your furniture providers? How do they support your organisation’s environmental and social targets and post-COVID aspirations?

We sat down with Mixology21 finalist, JPA Workspaces, who were happy to tell us how they are able to deliver furniture solutions that have minimal environmental impact and maximise economic and social benefit to their clients.

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Carbon neutral installations Local operation enables us to significantly reduce carbon miles associated with account management, planning and installation activities, whilst at the same time enabling us to provide a better service. Most JPA clients are within an hour’s travelling time of our head office in St Albans, with key accounts based north London and the Home Counties. JPA projects, deliveries and installations are carbon neutral, and we are proud of the work we have done to enable us to be externally certified as both a carbon neutral and a carbon reduced organisation in 2021 through carbon footprint. We have also lowered our Scope 3 emissions to clients year-on-year by increasing vehicle loading rates and consolidating delivery runs. We are committed to carbon zero by 2030, reflecting the green growth ambitions of the Herts LEP and Growth Hub where we are based.



New for old (and one less headache!) When specifying new furniture, JPA incorporates the removal and clearance of redundant furniture into the project, ensuring that nothing goes to landfill. Redundant items are re-used, disassembled for component re-use or dismantled for materials recycling. This immediately reduces the carbon cost of the project and improves clients’ environmental performance.

Eliminating furniture landfill As well as reducing the carbon cost of clients’ refurbishment and re-location works, we have also eliminated their furniture landfill. We make sure that every item of redundant furniture and packaging from completed works is recycled for materials recovery. NOTHING goes to landfill – which is vital to prevent impact on the following:


1. Increased air pollution from methane greenhouse gasses 2. The loss of biodiversity (between 30 and 300 species per hectare). Local mammals and birds are often replaced by species that feed on rubbish – eg. rats and crows. 3. Groundwater pollution through highly toxic chemicals, which find their way into groundwater, rivers or lakes, harming aquatic life and ecosystems. 4. Negative impact on local soil due to decaying organic material and toxic substances. 5. Adverse health impacts from Increases in smell, traffic noise, vehicle numbers, carbon and vermin. We have eliminated our clients’ redundant furniture landfill by providing a full and certificated collection and recycling service – to date we have recycled over 25,104 unwanted furniture items, saving over 584 tonnes going into landfill and 788 tonnes co2e.


Sustainable products It goes without saying that we specify from proven supply chains – suppliers who can demonstrate minimum levels of social and environmental responsibility, including FSC, PEFC, ISO14001, FISP and commitment to equality, and a stance against modern slavery. As a mark of the confidence we place in our manufacturing supply chain, JPA underwrites all manufacturers’ warranties, providing on-site support service for all goods post installation as required. Once again, this is enabled by our proximity to our client base and our own fitting teams and fleet.

Sustainable projects Our latest completed carbon neutral installation is at Rothamsted Research with the launch of the refurbished Russell Building. Not only has this included the specifying and supply of new furniture, but additionally the inclusion of second life furniture, which is interwoven seamlessly into design – you would do well to spot it! Our project work is also sustainable in terms of the development of long-term meaningful relationships with clients where we seek to add value through ongoing site support and services long after the furniture has been installed.

Resource maximisation – a more circular approach At the start of any new project we encourage clients to identify existing items that could be incorporated into designs before specifying new items. Our fully trained fitting teams can dismantle and reconfigure existing furniture, replacing damaged parts, and topping up with new as needed for updated designs and layouts. By offering a full range of repair, refresh, reupholstery and reconfiguration services, we ensure that clients’ furniture is kept in optimal condition for longer, maximising original investment. Audits are compiled well in advance to allow us to highlight and then re-home any still-fit-for-task redundant furniture items within the local community and charitable organisations. This provides a valuable community service and meaningful local integration, whilst also reducing landfill and waste – a double win. To date, JPA have re-homed over 4,490 redundant furniture items in local organisations, enabling valuable funds to be spent elsewhere.

Zero single use plastic packaging JPA remove all product packaging from site installations and ensure that it is either re-used or recycled. Again, nothing goes to landfill. Additionally, we ensure that any packaging bags and blankets we buy are manufactured from recycled materials and then themselves re-used many times.w

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Entries now open! Celebrating the northern stars of commercial interiors Enter your best projects, products and people before 11 October 2021

UPFRONT Steve Gale

Astrology for business or emotional fitness? Steve Gale buys into Giorgio Chiellini – the grinning warrior.


sychology occupies a central position in workplace design. Of course it does. Emotional impact has always been important, but some employers are beginning to see it as vital and as desirable as having the right tools and facilities, if not more so. The sporting world knows this, and is arguably ahead of the workplace curve. Think of Andy Murray’s demons, the military mentality of the Indian cricket team at Lord’s, and the positive effect of Gareth Southgate’s inclusive culture. Ability, fitness and tactics are primordial requirements, but they are redundant without an appropriate emotional backdrop. It’s easy to transfer sporting analogies into the business world, and to compare the growing awareness of the space between our ears. Designers,

Steve Gale is Head of Workplace Strategy at M Moser Associates. SteveG@mmoser.com 18 | Mix 215 September 2021

like coaches, can look past the skills that make a team, and pay more attention to understanding the ethereal landscape of motivation and values. We recognise the workplace as more than a functional vessel and can see buildings as a sounding board for collective ambition, reflecting what the organisation stands for. We can address the contribution of design on our mental wellbeing and organisational conscience. Here are two frameworks that illustrate the difference between emotional and activity-based design. They sound similar, but they examine very different attributes. The first is the concept of workplace personas, and the second is the Myers Briggs Type Index (MBTI). Personas are people profiles based on common activities. A number of personas, usually between

four and six, can be developed with a catalogue of facilities each might need to work effectively. They might have names like collaborator, warrior or communicator, along with ideal settings for each one. Real employees can then be assigned to a persona and given the relevant furniture and workspace. The idea is to match work settings to the things employees do, with scant reference to the psychological drivers. Whatever the accuracy of personas, they are firmly embedded in the theology of activity-based work. MBTI, on the other hand, derives equally simplistic personas (or types) but by plotting Jungian personality attributes, which then allows the possibility of people with identical job roles to have radically different psychological profiles. MBTI gets a lot of flack, but it does see people as more than operatives, and calls out the hidden motivations and preferences in all of us. The big implication of the MBTI model is that a workplace can also have a personality, or at least a set of attributes that resonate with real people. This simple idea opens up the possibility of an environment laden with signals and messages about the organisation that lives in it. Occupants will decode these, with the same antennae used for any other habitat, and decide what it means for them. A workplace that expresses the organisation within will attract and retain the right people, and reduce misunderstandings at the all-important emotional level, which is where the important decisions are made. It is not enough to provide the appropriate space and facilities – they should also express meaning and purpose.w

UPFRONT Material Matters

MATERIAL MATTERS Fettle is a boutique interior architecture and design firm specialising in the hospitality sector. This month, the firm’s Co-founders Tom Parker and Andy Goodwin offer up a selection of their favourite material products. Ceramica Suro Custom Tiles ceramicasuro.com We work with Ceramica Suro – an incredible Mexican specialty tile company. Initially they manufactured a tile mural by renowned artist, Jorge Pardo, for a project we worked on in Los Angeles called Audrey (below). They developed a pattern consisting of nine different colours across 12 different shapes of tile, and the effect was incredible. They work with a number of world-class architects, designers and artists to create impressive murals across the globe.

Inopera Terrazzo Tiles in-opera.co.uk A company we often specify on projects is Inopera. We regularly use their terrazzo tiles for architectural finishes as they come in an extensive range of sizes and some fantastic colours. We are currently working on a coworking project in London, where we are going to use the green colourway in the entry lobby – we’re excited to see the project come to life.

Tectum Ceiling Tiles armstrongceilings.com We used this impressive product in the lobby of Hoxton Hotel in Portland, Oregon. It is a recycled material, which has great acoustic performance and comes in an almost unlimited range of custom colours. It is easy to work with and can be applied or suspended in any number of ways, making it extremely versatile. We chose a bold pink colour for the ceiling of the Hoxton Hotel lobby (below).w

Jelinek Recycled cork architectural finishes jelinek.com One product range we have wanted to use for a while is the range of recycled architectural finishes from Jelinek. These impressive cork products are more striking and varied than a lot of the more standard cork finishes on the market. The acoustic range is also particularly interesting in that it has a lot of relief to it, giving it a remarkable 3D quality.

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UPFRONT Desert Island Desks

Flos Floor Lamp (battery pack operated, of course)

Desert Island Desks

Accent lighting is very important to me. Flos do such great floor lamps, so it’s hard to pick just one. The ever-popular IC and Captain Flint lights are classics in the making and the old favourites are just great – such as the KTribe, Ray and Romeo, and not forgetting the all-time classic, Arco.

Susie Harrison Head of Creative AIS


usie heads up the talented design team at AIS, managing and mentoring their designers to create leading workplace solutions across the globe. With over 15 years’ experience leading complex projects and teams throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, Susie’s ideas and proficiency enhance the way organisations work and utilise their space. Here, Susie tells us about the luxury items she’d take with her for an extended stay on our desert island.

Knoll Womb Chair and Foot Stool This chair is like a wonderful hug – that would be much needed from time-to-time if I’m alone on an island. One of the perks of having three kids is that I do get a lot of hugs daily. The limited edition sheepskin version would be perfect (although maybe not very sand friendly!).

Glee Box Set (all six seasons!) This is totally my guilty pleasure. I didn’t get to Netflix binge over lockdown due to having a very hectic job and three kids – but a sneaky episode of Glee every now and again kept me going.

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UPFRONT Desert Island Desks

My Sewing Machine I’ve never had enough time to really get into sewing, despite many attempts – so no better time than when stranded on an island. I could definitely see myself fashioning some 100% organic throws, cushions, rugs, curtains…the list is endless!

A Pilates Reformer Machine Pilates gives me much needed headspace. A reformer machine would be everything I would need to keep my body and mind healthy.

Bamboo Toilet Paper Who Gives a Crap is an amazing environmental brand. I love their product and the fact that they donate 50% of their profits to help improve sanitation in the developing world – and the packaging is pretty awesome too (I would find lots of uses for their graphic wraps!) Long gone are the days when being eco-friendly wasn’t stylish.

Offering leather solutions, plus antibacterial and antifungal faux leathers for seating

Tracks for the juxebox Don McLean – American Pie It’s the song I have to sing along to till the very end – all eight minutes.

Justin Wellington feat. Small Jam – Iko Iko For feeling the island grooves.

Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling This is my ‘gotta hit the dancefloor’ track whenever I hear it.

Captain Underpants Soundtrack, Andy Grammer – A Friend Like You This song reminds me of dancing around the kitchen with my kids.

Paul Simon – Kodachrome An ode to my wonderful husband – who has a love for both Paul Simon and Kodachrome.

Paul McCartney / Elbow / Jenifer Hudson / Dua Lipa (I like them all!) - Golden Slumbers I will find my way homeward…w








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Paradoxically Speaking: Change


‘In this era of unprecedented change’ is of course a complete nonsense and I’m sure you haven’t used it. Especially to open an email. Never. Well, Neil Usher now has…

Neil Usher is Chief Workplace & Change Strategist at GoSpace AI, and Author of The Elemental Workplace and Elemental Change 24 | Mix 215 September 2021

e could spend time arguing that all change is by its nature unprecedented, as in a world of constant flux nothing has ever happened before in the same manner as today. Or we could argue that, by its nature, all change has precedent because without it we wouldn’t be here at all. Or we could instead ponder for a moment whether the last 18 months haven’t just been one long tedious, frustrating, mind-numbing pause in which less of any consequence has actually happened than at any period in our lives. Which is what we’re going to do, because it’s wholly unfashionable. And that’s a far more interesting place to be than tubthumping with everyone else on LinkedIn. If you can recall back that far through the stupefying fug, you had plans. Big plans. 2020 was going to be ‘the’ year. Personally and professionally. And then, with the unexpected intervention of [insert chosen conspiracy theory] the streets fell unnervingly silent like at no point in anyone’s lifetime. Not quite Survivors (the original Terry Nation series from 1975 – far better than the 2008 re-make) but scary enough. Now we have the double-jabbed confidence to emerge once again, it’s all happening, it seems. First, it’s hybrid working. Which for all the industrially-produced blather basically means one or two days working from home instead of at the office – Friday, for most knowledge workers, having long ago submitted to the inevitable. As a result, Tuesday promises to feel a lot like our pre-pandemic world. Perhaps Wednesday, too. In case we need a reminder. Then, hand-in-hand skips the emerging monster-hyped ‘great resignation’. Apparently, more than half of office dwellers are about to leave their paymaster and head off to those offering the greatest flexibility – as in, even less days in the office. Well, only those organisations not considering reduced salaries for the enjoyment of this extended freedom. Just when a number of surveys revealed that we’d accept lower pay for increased flexibility. If only we’d all ticked ‘no’ instead – maybe next time we get asked to vote for Christmas. All of which means, if we’re happy to go to the office every day, we’ll have the pick of a peachy basket. We could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps a day or two less in the office and a

change of job weren’t especially significant changes, however welcome or necessary. The pursuit of both could well have been in that 2020 kick-off list. Check it out if you still have the napkin. Meanwhile, we’re told that we’ve seen several years of ‘digital transformation’ squashed into 18 months. For most, the tangible manifestation is the despatch of last few archaic desktop PCs to the great breakers yard in the sky, in favour of laptops (long overdue) and the ability to view your colleagues in cinema seating on a web call (entirely unnecessary), although anything to relieve the tedium, even for a few minutes. The willing forth of a ‘new normal’ – rippled with certainty, predictability, routine and pattern – seems at first to be at odds with all this apparent upheaval. If the ‘old normal’ wasn’t exactly a hoot, why we’d want a new one is questionable. But not everything can be a swirling mass of shapeless flux. It would be a torment, we’d be paralysed, unable to take a step for fear of being swept away. It’s a desire for a sufficient canvas on which to create. When we have to make 30,000 decisions a day, clearing a patch of cognitive scrub for some more interesting deliberations is helpful. Deliberations, that is, that relate to what we want to be different and how we intend to make it so. It’s the existence of enough predictability to allow the time and space to move with confidence. And for a smattering of the unexpected; enough to excite, not so much as to disorient. Our paradox therefore becomes: ‘I want all this change to stop – there are things I have to do!’ We want change. We need change. We are change – it’s our essence. But we want enough certainty and routine to make it possible, visible and enjoyable. When we appreciate that the last 18 months have been more pause than turmoil, we’ll start creating and consuming change at a pace we determine. For the moment, while caught up in the false narrative that everything is morphing at an unprecedented pace, as we stare out of the window, we have a few seconds to wonder – is it the train next to us that’s moving, or ours? w

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Plug-and-play Plug-and-play is shaping up to be the new normal in the UK office sector. It’s going to mean big changes, but there’s nothing to fear, David Thame reassures us.

26 | Mix 215 September 2021


Ashby Capital’s Future Works, Slough


he last 18 months of seething turmoil has, finally, produced an outcome. The new normal in the UK’s big city office market is going to be hybrid office buildings, and hybrid office buildings will mean as much as 30% of floorspace is reallocated to plug-and-play. And, by plug-and-play, landlords and investors mean fully fitted out office suites, let and re-let several times, to occupiers who pay a single all-inclusive fee. It’s not quite serviced office space – the landlords will not make your coffee, do your cleaning or your photocopies – but something rather different. It is a halfway house between a normal long lease on Cat A office space, and the serviced offer of WeWork, The Office Group and their peers. In short, the ultimate hybrid office space. At which point, let’s pause, because the last couple of paragraphs contained epic news. Today, the plug-andplay concept, in which landlords fit-out office suites, and tenants take them as seen with (maybe) some modest customisation, is a novelty. There are a handful of options in London thanks to big names like Shaftesbury and L&G, who have developed branded plug-and-play offers, Assemble and Capsule. In the regions, we find that some Manchester landlords have picked up the concept. Elsewhere it’s mostly tumbleweed. The big takeaway is that plug-and-play is going to be big. Mix has spoken to a range of specialists in this field who are handling hundreds of thousands of square feet of plug-and-play plans in London. More is planned in Manchester, Leeds and – as we shall see – in subregional hubs like Slough. It will soon add up to a lot of square footage. Volumes are hard to judge but the consensus is that as much as a third of routine office floorspace (that is to say, excluding the fanciest large floorplate Grade A office buildings) could be heading down the plug-and-play route sometime in the near future. The idea is that office buildings become layer cakes of tenure types; traditional long leases occupying several floors of Cat A floorspace at the top, plug-and-play Cat B floorspace in the middle and, on the ground floor, the lightweight coffee shop anchored coworking space beloved by freelancers and start-ups. Without the plug-and-play space in the middle, this concept can’t provide an escalator for growing businesses – it is essential to the mix. So now let’s take a trip to Slough to discover why landlords think this is such a good idea, why they will do lots more of it, and what it means for our readers.

Mix 215 September 2021 | 27


The Future Works

Rooftop allotments co-designed with John Lewis and Samsung

AshbyCapital and development partner, U+I, have launched The Future Works Instant, a plug-andplay office space within The Future Works, the first 100,000 sq ft phase of a 360,000 sq ft Slough office scheme. Just as the theory suggests, plug-and-play is explicitly designed to offer a third option between flexible workspace and traditional office space. Branded as ‘Future Works Instant’, the plugand-play offer is a fully furnished and fitted office space of 6,900 sq ft, which is available to occupiers immediately, The design-led workspace is located on the building’s second floor and Ashby says it offers high levels of natural light through floor-to-ceiling glazing. And there’s all the usual stuff, of course. Wi-Fi connectivity, a ground floor all-day café, a doubleheight feature entrance hall, bike spaces, towel service, smart vending and secure basement parking with electric car charging spaces, and all moments

28 | Mix 215 September 2021

from Slough rail station with the Elizabeth Line opening in 2022. Occupiers also get a 3,100 sq ft communal roof terrace with views of Windsor Castle. AshbyCapital’s Property Director, Tom Smithers, says the appeal for tenants will be reducing the cost, time and hassle associated with fitting out new premises. And, of course, the relatively simple fee structure and lease. With no fit-out to pay for, there is equally no fit-out for tenants to strip out at the end of the lease, and hence nothing like the (expensive) dilapidation liabilities a traditional lease involves. It’s win, win, win. It’s also a big win for landlords, which is why they are investing very substantial up-front capital expenditure on fit-outs. Expensive is the word. The Future Works plugand-play fit-out was not a corner-cutting, valueengineered endeavour, as Tom explains. ‘If you’re going to recycle a fit-out, it has to be well-thought-out, well-designed, good quality. The

The cheapest option will look good for six months, and maybe help you bag an occupier, but you will have problems further down the line


cheapest option will look good for six months, and maybe help you bag an occupier, but you will have problems further down the line. We spend more than most, I suspect – about £70 per sq ft, rising to £90 per sq ft if you include the furniture. Some want to target £30-40 per sq ft fit-outs, but that isn’t going to last. ‘Space that can be re-used two, three or four times saves the tenant money, and it removes a lot of waste,’ he says, but does not add that it obviously works out cost-effectively for landlords, too. The green bonus involved in avoiding regularly stripping out perfectly serviceable fit-outs is one of the big appeals for landlords. RICS data shows that the average fit-out goes to landfill after just 36 months. Fit-outs account for about a third of the carbon a building produces over its lifespan, taking into account construction and operations, and capping that wasteful cycle helps landlords meet their ESG targets. Tenants like that, shareholders like it, and so does the planet. There is also a more direct reason: fitted-out Cat B office space scores premium rents. Expectations vary – some say 12-16% uplift, others 10-20% – but all estimates fall

into the same generous ballpark. The short story is that rents go up enough for landlords to more than cover the fit-out costs. ‘This is filling the gap between traditional leases of Cat A floorspace, and the serviced offices that start-ups are using. It’s for growing businesses and it makes life easier for them. Rather than a long wait, a few months to a year, to sort floorspace and fit it out, they have just a couple of weekends of arranging the space how they want it, and the job is done,’ Tom explains. ‘And if it works for the tenant, it works for the landlord. We’ve identified real demand here, and we’re trying to react. But, of course, letting this space quickly means we can reduce the costly void periods on empty floorspace, and letting quicker means a real financial advantage to us.’ The cost of the fit-out, even if it is high, can be amortised over five, seven or 10 years – depending on expectations – making it remarkably cost-effective. Add the premium rent, and the avoided/reduced void costs, and it begins to make crystal clear sense. On top of all that, landlords expect hybrid plug-and-play floorspace to let without the

need for them to make contributions to the tenant fit-out (obviously, because the tenant isn’t fitting anything out) and without the normal incentives that oil the wheels of the office leasing scene. They may end up giving a month or so rent free, but that’s it. The rule for them is that incentives are reduced by about 85%. ‘Let’s be clear, this isn’t a massive moneyspinner, but it is helpful, and whilst it won’t double the rents landlords can charge, it does broaden the scope of the tenants we can appeal to, and that is a good thing,’ Tom explains. The widespread expectation is that plugand-play will work best in a large part – perhaps a third – of the floorspace of older buildings and regional offices with floorplates of 10,000 sq ft or less. It probably won’t work in buildings with large floorplates, mainly because they appeal to the kind of occupiers who are happy to organise their own fit-outs, and if landlords can let on traditional leases then this is (by far) what they would prefer to do. For now, AshbyCapital is moving cautiously at Slough. ‘We’ll roll out more plug-and-play floorspace as it lets. We’ve got some interest

Boultbee Brooks Hyphen building, Manchester

30 | Mix 215 September 2021



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L&G’s Capsule concept at Lotus Park, designed by Morgan Lovell

in the half-floor we’ve already done, and the obvious next step is to do the other half, and then more further up the building,’ says Tom. ‘20-30% of the floorspace would be a good ballpark. For most developers, I think that will be the sweet spot, though some might go completely for plug-and-play,’ he speculates. The big problem facing plug-and-play will be the approach adopted by valuers and, one step further down the line, by investors. Recently, property valuers have had some issues attributing realistic values to serviced office space – well advertised financial issues among serviced office providers have not helped. The consensus is that valuation issues can be overcome and that, whilst hybrid offices might have shaved a quarter point or two off office valuations, that is not enough to upset investors. Indeed, investors might be pleased to see hybrid space included in a building because it broadens the product offer. The valuers may not cause a problem. And investors might not care if they did. For now, the plug-and-play bandwagon is beginning to roll – and before long it will have rolled into an office building near you.w

in the half-floor we’ve already done, and the obvious next step is to do the other half, and then more further up the building,’ says Tom. ‘20-30% of the floorspace would be a good ballpark. For most developers, I think that will be the sweet spot, though some might go completely for plug-andplay,’ he speculates. The big problem facing plug-and-play will be the

The consensus is that valuation issues can be overcome and that, whilst hybrid offices might have shaved a quarter point or two off office valuations, that is not enough to upset investors. Indeed, investors might be pleased to see hybrid space included in a building because it broadens the product offer. The valuers may not cause a problem. And

approach adopted by valuers and, one step further down the line, by investors. Recently, property valuers have had some issues attributing realistic values to serviced office space – well advertised financial issues among serviced office providers have not helped.

investors might not care if they did. For now, the plug-and-play bandwagon is beginning to roll – and before long it will have rolled into an office building near you.w

32 | Mix 215 September 2021

This is filling the gap between traditional leases of Cat A floorspace, and the serviced offices that startups are using. It’s for growing businesses and it makes life easier for them

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creating better environments

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

Coworking: how to stay ahead of the curve Is now the time for coworking to re-emerge, superhero–like, and obliterate that commute, destroy those traditional working patterns, and completely annihilate the property market as we know it? With more and more major businesses turning to coworkingstyle facilities within their own portfolios, what can the coworking occupier and designer do to ensure that, post-pandemic, the flexibility and freedom of their offering attracts people to their facilities, while ensuring a happy return for those already familiar with this style of working?


e’ve gathered at Amtico’s new London studio to take an indepth look at this ever-evolving subject and ask a team of industry experts what the future holds when it comes to coworking. We start by asking the end user on the panel how business is right now. Chris: I’m currently making sure that we’re nice and full. We have five buildings in central London, of which 90% is private offices, so more of a serviced office provision, and this has been a bit of a challenge over the past year or so – it was certainly a tough year – but we’ve bounced back really nicely, which is very pleasing. It does feel as though we’ve turned a corner in terms of end user demand. The demand is now certainly there. It does depend upon the clients you are trying to attract though. If you are going for larger corporates – which are, in my opinion, the main bulk of what is currently moving in the market – then you have to understand that they’re not going to want to move every six months. They’re going to want to put down roots for 12-24 months at a minimum. And that works from a business point of view also – you know what you’re gong to be doing for the next 12-24

34 | Mix 215 September 2021

months in terms of business. Any further than that and you’re guessing. That’s why leases don’t really work. Charlotta: To start with, coming out of lockdown, a lot of clients were quite cautious – a lot of things were put on hold. What they have now done, though, even though they don’t really know how the market is going to react, is to invest to make sure that their buildings are better so that they can attract people into those buildings. It’s such a competitive market, and they need to offer more to potential tenants – so they are looking at how they can refresh these buildings. May: We’re seeing something similar. This is a very interesting one for me because our office is actually in a serviced office building – so I see it from both sides. It’s been interesting to see how our operator is dealing with us and how we’ve probably had the best service we’ve ever had over the pandemic – purely because they want to retain us. It has been a similar experience when it comes to working with clients, who feel they need to be able to provide a really special offering – something different. Not

only do occupiers need to improve their service levels, they also need to make their offering really special – going beyond a safe, secure environment. For example, we have never changed as many taps as we have during the pandemic as people move to touchless! People are thinking about clever ways to attract people back, via design and via specification – making sure that they are putting in things that people are now asking about, such as touchless tech and air purifiers. They want to show that they do care and they are doing something about it. James: We’re seeing exactly the same patterns. We’re working with a couple of companies at the moment – and one of them has huge expansion plans over the next two years. What we are talking to them about is what their offering is – what is it that makes them different? It is a tough market. Do you try to flex your space and push yourself out of a saturated market – or do you dive just below that? You’ve got to create a great vibe, you’ve got to get people through the door and you’ve got to offer something that is attractive. We’ve done quite a lot of studies on the quality of the private space – and that’s something that’s not

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

In partnership with

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

36 | Mix 215 September 2021

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

Some occupiers are facing lease breaks and being forced to act, others are sitting back and ‘waiting and seeing’ what happens over the next 12-18 months, while other businesses are doing all they can to encourage people to return to the workplace

” always the best when it comes to coworking/flex space. The social side is great, the frontage is amazing, but once you get past that then it’s not always the best. We’re also talking to clients about the user experience. Could the brand be the differentiator? Could it be a concierge service? To take it to an extreme, could it be like a Premiership football club, where all the peripheral stuff in your life is taken care of while you are here in order to enable you to be the very best you can possibly be – a real service offering. Another thing we’re looking at is the tech – the digital offering.

We have also seen some occupiers actually looking to increase space, post-pandemic, as they look to move away from a highdensity approach to a more flexible, collaborative way of working.

That digital experience needs to be seamless – much better than your tech experience is at home.

Chris: If you ask them whether they’d open a hotel, they’d say no. The fact is that opening a serviced office facility is actually quite similar – it’s just that people are awake rather than asleep! I don’t think they understand the level of service you need to put in. You look at all the headlines that say that the office is dead – the truth is that the bad office is dead. Similarly, people like the idea of working from home on Thursday and Friday, but already companies are saying that this isn’t going to happen. I think that the office is pretty safe – but it needs to be a better office, a better experience. It’s going to be a very interesting couple of years. What people are after is corporate culture. If you think you can get that from working off an ironing boarding your front room, you’re missing the point. This is what people are finally getting their heads around – the understanding that staff is their biggest overhead and they have to keep the staff happy.

Colin: I do think that the pandemic has forced flex operators to look at their offer – and it’s definitely exposed some of the weaknesses, particularly the club membership type offer, where you’re not fully in control of the space as the occupier. From that perspective, I think the ESG (environmental, social and governance) offer is really important for clients – it’s become the number one thing people are looking at when approaching flex space. James is right about the tech offering – we see a lot of occupiers now asking for flex space that will supplement what they have already, so things such as Zoom rooms and Teams rooms. I think it’s all about choice now. The curtains have come down. Everyone has realised that there are a number of different ways that we can work. You don’t have to be sat at a desk in an office any more. Many homes – residential developments – are certainly not set up for people to be sat working all the time. This is now forcing residential developers to look at this, while landlords are also looking at their offer and occupiers are wondering how they can provide this choice for themselves. James: This is now more a tenant-orientated market than a landlord-orientated market – and people are asking what extra can they get from their building. In a similar way to the coworking/ flex offering, these residential schemes are looking to have a differentiator, a USP. What does this mean for the property market? Are we going to see major occupiers reduce their real estate, and with easier, short-term leases will we see the return of thriving business centres rather than ghost towns? Colin: It feels as though there is a real mixed bag out there at the moment. Some occupiers are facing lease breaks and being forced to act, others are sitting back and ‘waiting and seeing’ what happens over the next 12-18 months, while other businesses are doing all they can to encourage people to return to the workplace.

And does this mean that some landlords have started toying with the idea of creating flex working models without really knowing what it is they need to provide and how to go about it?

James: Culture is massive – you have to keep people happy. For example, we’re all now bored of Teams calls. If you have a whole day of back-to-back Teams calls, you may well feel as though that’s really efficient, but there’s no experience in it – none of the peripheral value you get from actually being there or being with people. May: There are none of those connecting chats – no connecting on a human level, and that becomes exhausting. Sam: Doesn’t it almost make it as though your business is a commodity? It becomes a transaction rather than an experience. So, unsurprisingly, we’re all in agreement that people need to come together once again, into spaces that offer high service levels and a great experience. What about those focused working areas, for example? Charlotta: There needs to be a real variety on offer throughout the space. There needs to be a mixture of quiet zones and collaborative areas. This is where working from home really does come in handy for some people – if you have a lot of work to get

In partnership with

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

through in a day and you need quiet space, without interruption, then working from home can be a good thing. You may, of course, not be working like that all day, or may be in and out of meetings, and you don’t want to waste time travelling back and forth, therefore you do need that variety of spaces. May: You absolutely need to offer that choice. You need to allow people to ask which task they are doing and where they want to do that task. This is, however, where the real challenges come. How do we link people working from home into those who are together in the office? Colin: One thing we are seeing is more of the big occupiers offering coworking memberships as a benefit in the same way they would a gym membership, for example. There are people who live in one-bedroom flats or don’t want to travel all the way into the HQ, but instead want a great space and want people around them. Chris: The way our spaces are being used is different now. Wednesdays and Thursdays are particularly rammed at the moment –

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which is all part of that cultural thing. I think that pattern will slowly shift, but it’s clear that people want this flexibility, this balance. James: I think the gym analogy is a perfect one. People want to feel part of a community, part of the experience – even if they only go there once a week or once a month! So with people eager to be a part of these flexible working communities, what will they find once they’re there? How will these spaces look and feel? Sam: What we’re seeing are much more design-led spaces – operators are looking to create desirable spaces for people to come back into. We’re seeing more spend and we’re definitely seeing more of a demand for design-led products. They want to make their spaces more attractive and they’re also taking more time to consider what they need – there is a lot more consultation going on when it comes to product specification. People are also looking for that home-fromhome, domestic look – because they feel more comfortable with that.

James: I think there is real demand for ‘new’. Consumers are far more aware than they’ve ever been – and I feel that there’s such a great demand for something different and a demand for using cost-effective materials in clever, different ways. May: And this all goes back to the user experience – this is what is driving it all. We need to bring people back to have this great experience.


It feels as though our guests really have done our job for us! May is right in saying that the user experience is key – and will be key going forward. While people need suitable, functional workspace, they also need (not want!) that sense of community, collaboration and interaction. There’s nothing new in that, but – together with attractive, energetic environments and improved service levels – this will be the minimum requirement when creating successful coworking/flex space.w

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Amtico Flooring

Meet our guests

James Geekie

Charlotta Faulkner

Colin Wood

James joined Area in 2009 after running an award-winning design consultancy. Responsible for heading up the design communities within Area and Fourfront Group, James is passionate about delivering innovative designs that are a true reflection of his clients’ culture and brands. His work for leading organisations such as Office Space in Town, Central Working, The Argyll Club (formerly LEO), Work.Life and The Clubhouse, which have often resulted in setting the standard for future office design and fit-out projects in the UK and across Europe.

Charlotta is Design Director and an experienced interior architect working with Bluebottle for the past 12 years. As part of an evolving and dynamic practice in the heart of London, she has

Colin has over 20 years’ experience working in the commercial office sector, helping to deliver innovative and functional spaces where people can thrive. He is a cost management

been involved in a large variety of residential and commercial projects, ranging from corporate to media. Her strength lies in developing concepts and working with clients to successfully realise their brief. She works with attention to detail and understanding of materials and space to ensure each project reaches its full potential.

specialist and enjoys being part of the creative design process. As the Head of Occupier Cost Management for Colliers UK, he is helping to deliver great workspaces for clients that inspire their people to do great things.

May Fawzy

Chris Davies

Samantha Boyd

Bringing value, innovation and creative thinking are the main design pillars for May. As the Founder and Director of MF Design Studio, she focuses on creating office environments that are flexible, collaborative, innovative, creative, sustainable and inspiring for the individuals and the community. Above all, May takes great interest in creating spaces that support the wellbeing of occupiers. As a Director of the British Institute of Interior Design, May mentors young designers and introduces them to the world of commercial interiors.

Chris’ recent focus has been on the evolution of the ‘space as a service’ industry, with a deep understanding of changing business lifestyles and customer requirements. He has overseen the creation and growth of the Uncommon business, from the platform’s start to the enterprise it is now. Uncommon majors on the design, wellbeing and service it provides, with every detail outlined for people to feel better about being at work, with the very latest thinking in sound design, aroma, ergonomics and the psychology of productivity in their spaces.

Sam is an accomplished professional with a diverse background of working on healthcare, education, government and workplace projects. She has experience of leading and developing teams in both regional and national roles, as well as a wealth of industry experience spanning more than 20 years. Sam is passionate about being involved in the creation of design solutions, from conception to completion, to create innovative and functional spaces that have a positive impact on the lives of the people that use them.

Group Design Director Area

Interior Architecture Director MF Design Studio

Design Director Bluebottle Design

CEO Uncommon

Director Colliers

Commercial Project Specialist Amtico

In partnership with

30 UNDER 30 Review

Is it 60 under 30 or 2x 30 under 30? With 2020 cancelled, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to formally recognise the industry’s rising talent. So it was double celebration time when we recently gathered both 2020 and 2021’s rising stars, together with their senior colleagues and mentors, at Senator/Allermuir’s spectacular new Clerkenwell showspace. We would, of course, like to congratulate all 60 of our new inductees, and to thank our generous sponsors – Allgood, Amtico, Hunters and our hosts, Senator/Allermuir. As it has been so long since we’ve been able to meet up with so many of our guests, we took the opportunity to interrupt their enjoyment of bubbles, amazing edibles and vibrant DJ set to ask a few of them about their experiences of the past couple of years…

Tell us one thing you learnt during lockdown? Lucy Wood (HLW): I learnt how to work on my own terms. Working from home, I felt more empowered to work in my own time but still be as effective. Kitty Heston (Perkins&Will): I learnt how to respect other people and to respect the people in my team. I think we all saw a different side to people and we learnt to respect ach other’s time. Mitch Parkinson (HLW): One thing we learnt is that we had all taken working in an office, surrounded by our colleagues, for granted. Half of the job is designing, of course, but we didn’t realise just how much we rely on our colleagues. Joe Bosson (Spacelab): I made pasta from scratch for the first time. It actually turned out okay. I also learnt how to be more patient. Michele Mercado (Unispace): I learnt the importance of meeting people – because during lockdown it was just me and my laptop! Melodie Peters (BDP): I learnt that it was possible to collaborate with colleagues from home and to keep going. I was quite surprised by how easy it was. I also started sewing. Haroulla Georgiou (Align): The importance of being outside. Being locked in a flat without a garden really emphasised that. I made bread and pasta for the first time – it was lovely. Phoebe Wood (Scott Brownrigg): How important communication is. I found I had more time for cooking and for sports. I learnt French for three days!

In partnership with QUALITY SINCE 1948

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Francesca Mutch (Squire and Partners): One of the projects I worked on was international, so having that massive boost in technology was so useful. It really didn’t matter where we were.

30 UNDER 30 Review

How are you working right now – what is your typical studio/home working split? Kitty Heston (Perkins&Will): I’m working completely hybrid right now. Lucy Wood (HLW): I might be a little bit on my own with this, but I’m going in to the office most days – and have been since April. I probably work from home one or two days a week but I prefer to get up and get out to the office. Mitch Parkinson (HLW): I’ve been pretty much in the office most days for the past couple of months. I can walk to work and having two screens makes such a difference – it just works better. Joe Bosson (Spacelab): I’m probably in the office once or twice a week, depending on site visits, although I have recently moved out of London, so I am further away. During lockdown I was in the office a lot. Michele Mercado (Unispace): I’ve only recently gone back to the office – I go in at least once a week. I would like to go in more, but I’m still quite anxious about public transport. Melodie Peters (BDP): We worked from home until the end of August – so just returned two weeks ago. We’re now looking at a new flexible working policy where we can work 50% in the office and 50% at home. Haroulla Georgiou (Align): I’ve been back in the office since August last year – out of choice. I really like the set-up. We’ve got sit/stand desks and it helps that I really like my colleagues. Phoebe Wood (Scott Brownrigg): As soon as we were allowed to, I’ve been working from the office full-time. I cycle to work and I need two different, separate places. Ruby Fieldhouse (Squire and Partners): We’re all back in the office – and we’ve been back in the office for a while, which is much nicer than working from home, which was very much a requirement. Squires is a really fun office.

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30 UNDER 30 Review

Describe yourself in three words… Mitch Parkinson (HLW): No comment please!

Haroulla Georgiou (Align): Quiet, shy, creative.

Joe Bosson (Spacelab): Laid-back, determined, energetic.

Phoebe Wood (Scott Brownrigg): Energetic, enthusiastic, relentless.

Michele Mercado (Unispace): Active, independent, unique.

Francesca Mutch (Squire and Partners): Positive, passionate, enthusiastic.

Melodie Peters (BDP): Curious, ambitious, optimistic.

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Ruby Fieldhouse (Squire and Partners): Resilient, creative, inventive.




T. +44 (0)1405 746000 Head Office, Factory & Showroom. T. +44 (0)20 7490 4909 London Office & Showroom.

Elite Office Furniture LTD

www.elite-furniture.co.uk E. sales@elite-furniture.co.uk E. londonshowroom@elite-furniture.co.uk

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30 UNDER 30 Review

What piece of wisdom would you offer your 16-year-old self? Lucy Wood (HLW): Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take it all in. Kitty Heston (Perkins&Will): Don’t worry too much.

Haroulla Georgiou (Align): Don’t worry about fitting in – do what you want to do.

Mitch Parkinson (HLW): Don’t waste time. Enjoy it now.

Phoebe Wood (Scott Brownrigg): Listen to other people and don’t be afraid to say yes, do things – and enjoy it!

Joe Bosson (Spacelab): Just don’t stress. Stressing yourself is just extra stress!

Francesca Mutch (Squire and Partners): Embrace opportunities – they come out of the blue.

Michele Mercado (Unispace): Believe in yourself.

Ruby Fieldhouse (Squire and Partners): Always show initiative.

Melodie Peters (BDP): Keep doing what you do – you never know where you can end up.

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30 UNDER 30 Review

What was your lockdown soundtrack/album/box set/ read? Lucy Wood (HLW): Khruangbin, Bridgerton, Netflix bingeing. Kitty Heston (Perkins&Will): Kylie and Robyn – my flatmate says he can judge my mood if I wake up and blast either! Mitch Parkinson (HLW): I watched every single episode of Seinfeld – all 180 episodes! Joe Bosson (Spacelab): I watched Community – very good sitcom. I also got into synth-pop – stuff like Yazoo. Michele Mercado (Unispace): I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae. Ironically, one track I’ve listened to a lot by Koffee is called Lockdown! Melodie Peters (BDP): I watched Friends for probably the fifth time! Strangely, I stopped reading during lockdown because I tend to read when I’m travelling. I listened to a lot of movie soundtracks. Haroulla Georgiou (Align): Breaking Bad – I watched it for the first time in lockdown, and then I watched Better Call Saul. I’d watch both again. Phoebe Wood (Scott Brownrigg): I watched all the Marvel films – in order. I think there were 24 movies. I also listened to Taylor Swift.w

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In partnership with QUALITY SINCE 1948

Adaptive reuse & societal restoration Ever since buildings have been built, they have been repurposed. As early as the 4th century, the basilicas of Ancient Rome – built for formal public functions and containing the city’s courts – became adopted as places of religious worship when the state religion officially turned to Christianity. Although these buildings often remained structurally the same, this change in societal need gave the basilicas a new life and, subsequently, saved many of them from destruction. words: lauren teague

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The brilliant reception space features a spectacular textural timber wall


ometimes, it takes a defining moment in time like this to initiate a shift in architectural typology or use. Following the ‘end’ of the industrial revolution, an abundance of warehouses, mills and other forms of manufacturing works – originally built for specific industrial purposes – became slowly redundant and, in many cases, were abandoned altogether. Those that avoided demolition now stand as a reminder of a legacy rooted in place; the memory of a local identity. The significance of these buildings to their communities takes their repurposing beyond architectural merit to advance social needs – ensuring that existing building assets remain relevant in a changing world by questioning what they were designed for and what they want to become going forward. In Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, the repurposing of the Toffee Factory – from a disused Victorian sweet factory to a hub for creative businesses – reignited not only the building itself, but also the identity of the wider area. Completed in 2011 by local practice Xsite Architecture, the project retained the integrity of the existing brick structure while adding a contemporary rooftop extension to increase its floor area, enabling conversion into 27 serviced offices and flexible workspaces for SMEs. The reinvigorated building has become a catalyst for the regeneration of the

Ouseburn area. It prompted its transformation from a post-industrial wasteland into a thriving and lively community of creative businesses, giving a historic area once known as ‘the cradle of the industrial revolution’ a new identity as a flourishing cultural quarter, enlivened by a community of musicians, designers, artists, brewers and independent businesses. The adaptation of the Toffee Factory exploited the original structure’s most significant architectural and historical features – retaining the unique and authentic characteristics of the place – while interpreting the asset for new use. This, according to Tim Greensmith, Associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, is what has made his practice’s work at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings similarly successful for attracting a young and ambitious community of creative businesses to the former industrial complex. Known as the world’s first iron-framed building, the Main Mill – built in 1797 – had deteriorated into a ruinous state when the practice took on the project in 2009. The principal challenge in saving the Grade I listed structure came from identifying a future that protected the heritage of the site while contributing to wider regeneration plans with a space of genuine productivity. ‘Our interpretation of the project plays to the strengths of the existing building by not erasing

opposite & above Symes Mews

Our interpretation of the project plays to the strengths of the existing building by not erasing the ‘magic memories’ of the place that people will come to appreciate later on

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the ‘magic memories’ of the place that people will come to appreciate later on,’ says Tim. When complete, the resurrected building will provide a creative hub for businesses of all sizes and sectors, with the aim of fostering a community where SMEs can gather and share knowledge with more mature businesses – and ‘be inspired by the building’s history of pioneering innovation’. The project’s USP is the intrinsic architectural and social history carried within the building fabric – which would be impossible to replicate in a new-build office space. Although the project is not yet complete, interest from potential tenants is high. ‘Something about these historic buildings really attracts young, creative start-ups,’ Tim says. ‘These buildings have a history of success and local pride; young companies feed off that and buy into the intangible qualities of the heritage.’ Historic England’s key objective was to save the buildings from the ‘at risk’ register; everything from mothballing to full restoration was considered. The studio’s approach to adaptive reuse ensures that the building will benefit from a new lease of life that will bring positive change to the area while nurturing young businesses and retaining local talent. These types of mixed-use creative buildings may come to see a renaissance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – a monumental and historical moment, which has accelerated the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, blurring the division between the physical and digital technologies. The creative industries are often cited as being more resilient to economic global crises[1] and it is, arguably, these types of businesses that are most likely to benefit from intelligently designed, flexible workplaces that deliver an offer that works harder to entice users to

above Symes Mews

right Shrewsbury Flaxmill Malting

source [1]


We are always looking for opportunities to reimagine overlooked and underused urban spaces

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Our research has shown that office workers want employers to take a bigger responsibility for our environment. With this in mind, Tarkett has recently launched its stylish and innovative DESSO Serene & Serene Colour carpet tile collection, which is also a truly sustainable product. The tiles are made with 100% regenerated ECONYL® yarn and at the end of their life-cycle, they are 100% recyclable in Tarkett’s own carpet recycling centre. The tiles also come with Tarkett’s EcoBase® backing, which contains upcycled chalk sourced from local water providers and is Cradle to Cradle Silver level Certified™. www.tarkett.co.uk E: marketing@tarkett.com T: 0800 328 2115

For the sustainable office you will want to return to.


below Shrewsbury Flaxmill Malting

We firmly believe in trying to reuse existing buildings, where possible. The community that lives around them knows them and it’s part of their culture and identity; this building has roots and is part of the area’s local history

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collaborate. In Camden, London, property investor and developer, Fabrix, has recently completed the conversion of a 19th century furniture factory into 10,500 sq ft of ‘sustainable creative office space’. Symes Mews, designed with architect, pH+, sits within a conservation area ‘known for its rich industrial and creative heritage, making it an attractive location for a sustainable and design-led workspace,’ Paul Hicks, Investment Manager at Fabrix, tells us. ‘It has, however, historically lacked a significant portion of high quality office space. We saw the potential for Symes Mews to offer a sustainable and design-led workspace where occupiers could benefit from being within close proximity to the major transport hubs of King’s Cross and Euston, while enjoying the buzz that attracts so many people to Camden on a daily basis.’ The project uses breakout spaces, flexible floorplates and multiple entrances to closely align with the requirements and demands being foreseen for post-COVID workplaces. The interior is split into five distinctive spaces, allowing occupiers ‘greater control over the management of their own space’. For Paul, the ‘charm and character’ of the original building, which has been respected throughout its reuse, contributes to the success of the project. ‘We are always looking for opportunities to reimagine

overlooked and underused urban spaces,’ he concludes. ‘Environmental impact and social responsibility are key drivers for us, so bringing the building up to contemporary standards was the primary objective from the outset.’ The project responds to the redundancy of the building’s original industrial typology to resurrect the asset for contemporary use. As the built environment becomes increasingly aware of the sustainable benefits of ‘retrofitting’ existing buildings to increase environmental performance, it is equally important to take into account the social impact of building reuse and the potential to bring about genuine change. The desire to come together socially following the pandemic will return, but the escalating demise of retail will throw into question the role of the high street for motivating social connections. In London’s Lewisham, Really Local Group worked with Wren Architecture & Design to repurpose an essential piece of Catford town centre into a cultural venue with a three-screen cinema, live music venue, bar, café and community space. Catford Mews sits within a post-war council-owned retail centre, which faces medium-term plans for demolition as part of a wider masterplan to redevelop the town centre. Previously a Poundland store, one of a number of discount stores in the shopping centre, the unit was


offered to Really Local Group in 2019 with a new concept of a cinema-anchored creative hub that would tap into the creative needs of the community and allow local needs to influence the programming of films and events. The project exposes and celebrates the ‘grungy’ exposed concrete surfaces of the existing building, with the previous fit-out having been stripped back and new bespoke fittings introduced. Converting the existing structure was not just about the economic and environmental impact of saving the building from demolition, but held a deeper meaning for the local residents. ‘When we conducted the initial investigations into the building, many local people said they remembered it from their childhoods as a local market, called Catford Mews,’ says Phil Wren, Managing Director at Wren Architecture & Design. ‘We firmly believe in trying to reuse existing buildings, where possible. The community that lives around them knows them and it’s part of their culture and identity; this building has roots and is part of the area’s local history.’ Underway, Really Local Group and Wren Architecture & Design are also working together on a further retail conversion in Reading: a former Argos stock room which is being repurposed to provide a mixture of communal uses, from workspace and food kiosks to a three-screen cinema and event space. The Reading Biscuit Factory, set to open this summer, is a creative response to the collapse of retail in town centres and a simultaneously growing need for entertainment and cultural spaces. ‘There was always going to be a risk, when retail collapsed, that town centres would become hollowed out,’ says Phil. ‘There will be a huge readjustment in

below Symes Mews

the market that’s going to allow alternative uses to come back in and reinvigorate town centres and bring communities back with a more diverse offering.’ The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of various building typologies and is leaving, in its wake, a distressing scene of commercial real estate struggling to fulfil its former use – most prominently retail stores. This could potentially result in a large number of existing units being ripe for repurposing. A number of temporary uses – testing centres and Nightingale Centres – have showcased

the flexibility of building structures to adapt to new uses, but long-term solutions must be considered and tailored to the needs of the local communities. Jonathan Tuckey Design’s Street Front Life project – currently in proposal stages – is investigating the rehabilitation of ground-level retail units to ‘bring energy back into our broken high streets’. The project investigated methods to repurpose typical retail stores into a variety of uses, from homes to maker-studios, while ‘recreating the qualities, character and values’ that are familiar to the high street’s façade. The practice is already discussing the model with London’s councils, helping landowners and developers to tackle structural changes to the fading British high street with a vision to provide spaces that are flexible, affordable, practical and meaningful – all while remaining architecturally sensitive to the existing streetscape. Nobody knows for sure what the future of the built environment will look like – but what is clear is that the need to reuse existing built assets – whether for environmental, economic or heritage reasons – will play a key part. In promoting the ‘retrofit’ of shell-andcore fit-outs, let’s remember not to ignore the sense of place and community embedded within these buildings, which go beyond brick or stone to reinterpret a sense of identity for neighbourhoods – whether that’s protecting the historical value of recognised and loved buildings or adapting existing assets to define a new purpose.w

above Street Front Living

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MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

54 | Mix 215 September 2021

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

Making Perfect Sensory In recent years there has been a greater understanding of the importance of how a space makes you feel, our environment contributes to our emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health. The need for spaces that have a positive impact on humans has only been enhanced by the pandemic. There are many considerations that are important when designing for wellness; spatial design and flow, lighting, smells and sounds…while colour and surfaces can also have a huge influence. We’ve gathered a panel of industry experts at Ultrafabrics’ fantastic Clerkenwell showroom to discuss the importance of textures and colour when it comes to designing spaces with sensory wellbeing in mind.


e begin by asking whether our guests felt there had been a change in clients’ attitudes towards sensory design and wellbeing since the pandemic. Inge: Yes. I think people have lived in tiny spaces and gotten bored of their surroundings. They want more colour and more texture and, in some ways, that has been great for us because it has really made us think about space and the wider experience. David: I’d agree with that. I think that’s what everyone wants right now. Since we’ve been locked down, we’ve had time to look at ourselves and what’s important, and also how you really feel about the spaces you’re in. For myself, being locked in one space and only being able to go out for one hour, you really start to re-evaluate everything and you start to treasure all those small opportunities. I think it is an emotional and a sensory thing. We need all these things again. We found ourselves needing to reconnect with the world around us. This is hugely important for us all right now. Rachel: I think that everybody recognises that stress and mental health issues have risen significantly throughout the pandemic and, in order balance things out, people have been seeking out spaces that make them feel good, that make them feel calm, make them feel safe and make them feel happy. Businesses do want their people to come back to work – but they also want them to come back feeling safe and looked after. They want to give them the

positive experience of being in the right, professional working environment, with the right lighting, with the right working habits in place, to be able to turn up at a certain time, go home at a certain time – and hopefully have a life. I think businesses are now recognising that they need to encourage a healthier, more balanced lifestyle so that people don’t become burnt out. David: I totally agree. I think, as businesses, we are trying to bring our people back into our studios – and, for us, that has been a massive problem because you ask people how they want to work – whether they want to work from the office or to work from home – and we then had to work out what was the right way to bring them back into the office. We had to work out how to introduce the right touchdown spaces, how to get people back together, how to re-establish a community in the workspace. So we had to rethink our own offices – as well as rethinking our clients’ spaces, because this is what they are looking to us for when it comes to the commercial side of our business. So are our guests now finding that clients are looking to introduce elements – including colours and textures – that have more of a domestic look and feel? Lucy: I was finding that ‘resimercial’ was pretty much everywhere before the pandemic. Everything was about making spaces feel more comfortable and feel more like a home away from home. I feel that this has been pushed

In partnership with

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

Businesses do want their people to come back to work – but they also want them to come back feeling safe and looked after.

” to the side now – there’s now more emphasis on flexible, agile working, with maybe different settings and different ways of working, but not so much of the ‘let’s make this look like a living room’. It’s now about variety – smaller spaces, larger spaces, different heights for working surfaces etc – rather than trying to make a space feel like home. I think, in most cases,

that’s a lot of colour!’ and ‘Did you see the colour at the end of that wall?’ Then, within a couple of days, they started saying how calm they had started to feel, and within two weeks they were telling us how much they loved the colours. They were walking into the space and immediately feeling relaxed. Since that reaction we have gone into colours even more with that

to touch things for the past 18 months. The sense of touch plays such a huge role in our wellbeing, the materials, and surfaces around us can create a sensorial experience, so it’s vital that they feel soft and have those premium haptics. When we speak about reducing stress, we know how important touch is in grounding us in a space, and soft to the touch materials

people have realised that they can work from home if they want, and they can sit on a sofa and work with a laptop, but if they are looking to come into the office, they’re probably looking for a dual-monitor and an ergonomic chair and desk.

client – and also into different textures with them. They are completely open to this now. People have been stuck at home and are now really enjoying having their senses heightened again – and the more senses we are able to reach within the interior, the better the design.

Rachel: I still think there’s a desire for comfort, for those certain textures and colours you find from your home, as opposed to sloppiness! The space should be ergonomic, of course, and I think we’ve seen a lot of people who have been working from home and have discovered that it’s not very good for their back – but they still want the office to have those colours and textures that make them feel comfortable.

Tim: One factor that has really affected people is spending so much time outside – and that being a much bigger part of everyone’s day. Obviously, a lot of the offices designed by our friendly M&E engineers are very efficiently hermetically sealed and carefully controlled. Being able to bring the outside in and having a variety of environments for everyone at a range of times – so being able to work from the sofa if you want to or being able to work in the garden if you want to – the influences of nature, being outside and having so much choice really is having a big impact on the way we are able to design. Plus, I think that the less experimental clients, who previously just carried on with the same old formula, now realise that they can’t afford to not ask the question of whether there is a better way of doing things. Just by asking that question, you will come up with other options.

play a role in this. Now, more than ever, there is a need for the surfaces around us to be able to withstand regular cleaning and disinfection so that we feel comfortable to touch them, especially after all those months of being told to avoid touch. Of course, our physical comfort is going to directly impact our wellbeing. Using upholstery that has climate regulating properties or is breathable will enhance seating comfort and is so important when you are seated for long periods of time, such as in an office environment, where it can improve performance and reduce stress. But this material comfort is equally important in hospitality applications where you are creating a luxury experience. The ingredients of a material are also becoming increasingly important. This directly impacts the air quality of an environment, which in turn affects our physical health and wellbeing. Fabrics that have low VOC’s will not be emitting nasty chemicals, and we ensure that all Ultrafabrics are Indoor Advantage Gold certified for this reason. Also, using premium ingredients will mean lasting durability and fabrics that can endure years of active use without losing form or function. I actually think specifying materials that have sustainability credentials does impact the users’ wellbeing. Everyone is more aware than ever of the importance in moving in a more sustainable direction, living and working in environments that fit with our own ethics and beliefs makes us feel good. We are seeing more and more people look for animalfree alternatives that still provide a luxury premium experience. It’s no longer a question

So are we seeing a greater variety of colours and textures now being used in workspaces – and possibly bolder and different ones at that? Zena: We’ve just completed a smaller project in Watford for a long-term blue chip client. Our client felt quite comfortable in going along with different types of concept and we moved deliberately away from their brand colours, which are quite strong, and we went completely towards dialled-down shades. When we started painting the walls, which meant a lot of blocking of colour, and a lot of gradual toning, which they had never done before, we asked them how they feel when they came into the space and how they wanted to feel when they came into the space. When we first started the painting across the three floors, a lot of the comments were along the lines of, ‘Wow,

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We ask our hosts, Ultrafabrics, whether they are seeing emerging trends when it comes to sensory design, colour and texture. Genevieve: We are certainly seeing more colour – and its very much tonal colours that we are seeing. We are also seeing more requests for different textures – and I think this is maybe coming from being slightly scared

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

In partnership with

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

of compromise. Being surrounded by spaces that we connect to makes us feel good and improves our wellbeing. Genevieve makes a number of interesting points here – not least that we use touch to ground ourselves in a space. This is not particularly easy when it comes to ‘softer’ environments, such as retail and hospitality.Tim tells us that he has seen an alternative that we believe may well be the future!

than ever – a narrative that will help bring people back into the office. What is the feeling that you want to evoke? I think that’s very powerful – and a story like that, built around a variety of different spaces, which could be muted or could be vibrant, makes more sense than a blank canvass without that variety of colours and textures. When it comes to people’s wellbeing in the workplace, this is needed more than ever right now.

Tim: In Brixton, where we are based, there is a ramen shop that has a little Japanese UV robot that walks around and cleans the space. With the technology being so good, it can clean a whole multitude of surfaces that a cloth and a sanitiser is unable to do. So an advanced bit of technology allows us to not have to worry about dehumanising and sanitising our spaces. Then again, you don’t need to have touchless lifts – you could just have a door person. You can humanise the problem. None of us wants to be living, socialising or working in a lab.

Lucy: We’ve definitely seen a shift away from brand colours, which are obviously more client facing and used just to make sure people know who you are! Instead, people are looking at who is occupying the space day in and day out, how they can make that space better for them and allow them to be happier and more efficient.

David: There was a real knee-jerk reaction to start with – it needed to look like people were doing something but thankfully that’s quickly being stripped back. Maria: We are definitely seeing our clients question the purpose of their space much more. They now want a narrative much more

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While there is a clear trend for more colour and interesting textures in workplaces, as Lucy says, there is a cultural shift away from the client-facing corporate style, towards staff-focused wellbeing-oriented spaces – firstly, to get people to return and, secondly, to ensure they are happy and comfortable to be there. We’ve said it before (and no doubt we’ll say it again very soon) but variety really is key – from a variety of spaces and amenities, through to colours, textures, shades and tones.w

MIX ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Ultrafabrics

Meet our guests

Rachel Basha Franklin

Zena Janowska

Inge Moore

Maria Papadopoulou

Rachel has dedicated her career to delivering design solutions with her client’s needs as her core focus. She has a driving passion for design and works towards giving her client’s aesthetically accomplished solutions that work for the business and end users. She has invested her energy into researching and understanding what her client’s needs are and has delivered key projects to some of the UK’s leading companies. Rachel has worked in Sydney and London, and has project experience in Europe, China, Singapore and Jamaica.

Zena is an interior designer with expertise across a number of design sectors; these include retail, hospitality, high-end residential and healthcare. Over the last five years, Zena has been part of the design team involved with interior design for regional and London schemes for PwC. Zena is passionate about human centric design, focusing on user experience and was lead designer for the recent Mixology finalist project, PwC Watford.

Muza Lab, founded by Inge and Nathan Hutchins in 2016, creates multi-faceted hotels, superyachts, luxury developments and private residential spaces. The firm’s everevolving style is underpinned by a dedicated approach to exquisite detailing, layering of textures, eclectic use of materiality, and ease of use. With a global outlook and a commitment to craft and a sense of discovery, the team infuses each project with thoughtful consideration and deep creativity to bring to life designs that evoke memorable experiences.

Maria is an associate at Perkins&Will with 14 years’ experience in architecture and interior design. After completing a degree in architecture at the University of Thessaly in Greece, she started working on residential projects before moving to London and joining the Perkins&Will interiors team. Significant projects in the last eight years include designing workplaces for some of the world’s leading financial services and tech companies, including Microsoft and The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

David Mason

Tim Gledstone

Lucy Bagshaw

Genevieve Boaler

David joined Scott Brownrigg’s London office in 2016 as Project Director for the interior design sector. He leads teams of interior designers to champion innovation and is responsible for heading major schemes and continuing to grow and develop business within the sector. David has successfully led a range of high quality, highly complex projects, which have provided him with a wide variety and depth of experience within the hospitality and residential sectors, having delivered international schemes in the Netherlands, Qatar and Antigua.

Tim has taken a leading role in the design direction of Squire and Partners, delivering several prestigious central London residential developments. He has also led the practice’s design and interiors teams to create its office at The Department Store, which subsequently won a RIBA National Award. Most recently, Tim has led the design of new hyperlocal Brixton workspace, The Department Store Studios. Leading a team of architects, illustrators, interior designers and model makers, Tim’s creative input continues to shape the direction of the practice.

Lucy is an Associate Director working across the interior design

Genevieve has a background in textile design and is passionate

and sustainability departments at tp bennett. Whilst her background is in architecture and interior design, she works within the sustainability team at tp bennett to ensure a more cohesive approach in embedding sustainable initiatives, values and ideas into projects as well as its own business. Lucy has been heavily involved with supply chain engagement and responsible sourcing, as well as research pieces into equitable and inclusive design.

about how the materials we surround ourselves with make us feel. Responsible for Ultrafabrics’ European marketing activity and London showroom, Genevieve is inspired by the company’s commitment to producing highperforming fabrics that also create sensorial experiences.

Founder Basha-Franklin

Director Scott Brownrigg

Senior Interior Designer BDP

Partner Squire & Partners

Associate Perkins&Will

Founder Muza Lab

Associate Director tp bennett

Showroom Manager Ultrafabrics

In partnership with


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CASE STUDY LIVINGAutodesk Property

caption The new Autodesk space is creative, practical and provides employees with peace of mind as they return to the office

CAD World We’re fortunate enough to be presented with some of the best workplace schemes in the UK, so it can be difficult to decide upon which projects to include in the limited number of pages we have. In the vast majority of cases, the differentiator is the story behind the scheme. That is certainly true of the new Autodesk London working home.


utodesk is an American multinational software corporation that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. Autodesk is headquartered in San Rafael, California and has offices worldwide. The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, who was co-author of the first versions of AutoCAD. AutoCAD, which is the company’s flagship computeraided design (CAD) software, and Revit software are primarily used by architects, engineers and structural designers to design, draft, and model buildings and other structures. Autodesk software has been used in many fields, and on projects from the One World Trade Center to Tesla electric cars. A destination for work, creating, play and collaboration, the new Autodesk space in Covent Garden is both creative and practical, while also providing employees with peace of mind as they return to the office.

Not an easy combination to pull together, but smartly achieved here by Tétris – and when we say smart, we mean smart. ‘Autodesk was previously based in Soho,’ Tish Scott, Senior Designer, Tétris UK, gives us some background to the project. ‘The building is in a very central location – just three minutes from Charing Cross station. The entrance of the building has been recently refurbished. ‘Our parent company, JLL, was involved in the selection process – they had worked with Autodesk previously – and Tétris gave input during this process to ensure the right space was selected. ‘Our client knew what they wanted and demanded uncompromising attention to detail. The design had some strict criteria to adhere to – everything had to be truly unique.’ We ask Tish about the design/ build process – and she reveals that this involved a combination of collaboration and technology. ‘The project was delivered with a geographically dispersed team,

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below Teapoints include geometric tiles, good circulation and touch-free elements

The project was delivered with a geographically dispersed team, aggressive timeline and the challenges of working during lockdown

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aggressive timeline and the challenges of working during lockdown,’ she explains. ‘As the project was managed on BIM 360, which saved in the Cloud, Tétris designers in the UK and South Africa were able to access all plans and work on the project simultaneously from different offices. This enabled us to staff the project according to who is most suited to work on it rather than being constrained by geographic necessity. As a result, the project benefitted from the technical expertise of the South Africa team, coupled with the creative design expertise and build capabilities of the UK team – an exemplary case of collaboration without borders. ‘With the design agreed beforehand, the building was scanned for a Revit shell (to create 3D Revit model) that is accurate to the smallest detail. At the same time as the scan, a Pano tour was conducted to create a virtual photographic survey, which allowed us to pick up measurements. This reduced the number of physical site

visits needed – a great advantage during the pandemic – and sped up the process by being able to get answers to questions quickly just by looking at the imagery. ‘We ensured that there were always open lines of communication and constant virtual updates to the client. ‘The design objectives for this project were completed within an aggressive timescale, totally remotely, during a challenging year at the height of lockdown from March to December 2020. ‘Our client wanted to create a destination for work, creating, play and collaboration. The space is creative, practical and provides employees with peace of mind as they return to the office.’ The design concept here centres on a ‘walk in London’, with each part of the space representing a different district: Shoreditch, Soho, Clerkenwell and Mayfair. ‘The story is discovered as you walk around the atrium, which represents the Thames flowing through the city, using a diachroic film on the glazing in which


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below Colour and texture feature throughout the London-inspired space

Client Autodesk Design Tétris M&E Consultant FHP Raised Access Floor Gridline Ceiling, Partitions and Doors Premier Refurbishment Mechanical and Electrical Kentex Data and AV Twisted Pair Decorations Vivid Finishes Floor Finishes Mercury Flooring Joinery ECJ Graphics & Manifestation Limited Acoustic Treatment JBH Acoustics Furniture Tsunami Axis Curtains Sunshield Direct Ceramic Tiling Versatile Blinds Waverley

The space is creative, practical and provides employees with peace of mind as they return to the office

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light rays having different polarisations are absorbed by different amounts,’ Tish explains. ‘Inspired by vibrant Shoreditch, the café and event space boast an eye-catching Aron acoustic metal panelled ceiling with special RAL colours and concrete effect hardwearing flooring. ‘The open plan space is moody Soho. Grey walls and black partition frames, skirtings and doors contrast with runways of flooring in bright pink and electric green. ‘The meeting rooms are named after artists with origins in Soho. In the Pink Floyd meeting room, eye catching pink Dye Lab carpets by Shaw Contract make a bold statement, with more pink upholstered furniture and full wall images. ‘The designers and makers are in the Clerkenwell district, where the workshops of the 3D printer, robotic arm and green screen VR room are located, along with an exhibition area.

‘The front of house meeting rooms are characterised by elegant Mayfair, where you will find modern London music icons such as Elton, Bowie and Freddie, with a large light brick effect acoustic wall and heavy curtains across one wall. A modern take on classic chandeliers in delicate circular hoops hang over the meeting tables. ‘It’s a colourful and vibrant space. It’s textural and appeals to the senses. With the client’s team involved in the process, including the naming of the meeting rooms, along with the design concept, it reflects its location perfectly and further amplifies a sense of local community and neighbourhoods. ‘At the heart of the concept is a sense of place, given that the concept is based on a walk through London. This is a space with its own sense of identity as the client’s brief was to create a truly individual project, so no two Autodesk offices are ever the same.’

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below & bottom Vibrant meeting rooms are named after artists with origins in Soho

The space boasts a robotic arm, 3D printing workshops and a green screen room, as well as spaces to accommodate large team gatherings, games areas and a sizeable teapoint to allow distancing and avoid overlaps in circulation. Safety is also a consideration here, with foot operated release latches for bins and doors wherever possible. In addition, a natural circuit (for when times demand) is created by the atrium and in the open plan area, with two walkways demarcated by pink and green geometric carpeting, allowing staff to get some steps in. ‘As the client wanted something truly unique, we couldn’t use any designs or products that were used by them before, Tish reveals. ‘The reception makes a bold statement, textural and unique with a metallic texture on wall, floor and ceiling consisting of Rimex metals and Autex panels, bespoke metal ceiling, and Milliken flooring.’ We finish by asking Tish about her favourite element of the space. ‘I would say that my favourite element of the space is the teapoint with its geometric tiles, and the thought that went into making it safe for social distancing, with good circulation and touch-free elements,’ she considers. ‘The dark cabinets make a bold statement against the contrast of the bright orange pops of colour in the stools, ceiling and even orange grout in the tiles!’w

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Chaucer’s Tale Scott Brownrigg’s interior design team recently completed the fit-out of the impressive new headquarters for the Chaucer specialty (re)insurance group in the heart of the City of London.

The brilliant reception space features a spectacular textural timber wall


esigned during the pandemic, the scheme evolved to reflect a shift from traditional desk-based work to more flexible and collaborative ways of working. Occupying 44,000 sq ft of office space, across three floors of The Scalpel on Lime Street, the new facility now accommodates over 450 employees and plays an important part of Chaucer’s development as a leading global underwriting group. Scott Brownrigg’s Design Strategy Unit team undertook a detailed workplace strategy study to understand Chaucer’s requirements for the new facility. A bespoke Workstyle Profiler, alongside other Design Strategy Unit tools, was used to determine employees working patterns, user requirements

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and employee profiles. During the design phase a further study was undertaken to incorporate changes to working patterns as a result of the pandemic. Consequently, more spaces for collaboration, social interaction and training were added to the new working landscape. The move coincided with Chaucer’s decision to rebrand, enabling them to roll out a new brand identity across the new working home. Prior to the relocation, Chaucer occupied a single floor at Plantation House on Fenchurch Street. The Scalpel, at 52 Lime Street, was selected for the new home with the help of Savills. The angular deep floorplates provide flexible space and excellent views of landmark

above Chaucer looked to pay homage to their parent company by incorporating Chinese architecture throughout the space

right The open plan space consists of a variety of micro working environments, each designed to encourage interaction and cater to individual needs images: billy bolton


buildings, such as the neighbouring Lloyds of London, with Chaucer choosing to occupy the lower 6th, 7th and 8th floors for ease of access. Scott Brownrigg already had an extensive portfolio and experience in the insurance sector, although this was the first time that the firm had worked with Chaucer. The project was delivered under a Design and Build contract, with Scott Brownrigg appointed to undertake the workplace strategy and interior design of the space. ‘The workplace strategy exercise conducted by our Design Strategy Unit helped us to define Chaucer’s brief,’ Scott Brownrigg Director, Beatriz Gonzalez, tells us. ‘Subsequently, the brief became fluid to accommodate changes encored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration, sustainability and flexibility remained at the centre of Chaucer’s brief. Chaucer wanted to pay homage to their parent company, China Re Group, by incorporating Chinese architecture across the office. Beatriz explains that Scott Brownrigg proposed a unique design based on the Chinese Hutong concept and the British marketplace. ‘The spatial arrangement mimics the Hutong concept, with ‘streets’ convening in a central social area, such as the employee café. Incorporating a hospitality approach to the office design, the open plan space consists of a variety of micro working environments, each designed to encourage interaction and cater to individual needs.

Mix 215 September 2021 | 69


‘Incorporation of Chaucer’s culture into the new office was at the heart of the design, from implementation of their new branding to echoing Chaucer’s values of sustainability and wellbeing. The result is a well-curated environment that provides collaboration, communication and adaptability for Chaucer’s future working requirements. This is a new hub that staff can be proud of. We ask Beatriz about the greatest challenges for the team here at The Scalpel. ‘The main challenge was delivering the project during the pandemic,’ she recalls. ‘We took advantage of our in-house design tools to communicate the design to the client via virtual conference meetings. Walkthroughs, 3D visuals and interactive software were fundamental to obtain client sign offs. ‘The new office design supports Chaucer’s new flexible working patterns, adapted for the return to work after the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a hub for collaboration and communication.’ The three floors are linked by a central cantilever staircase, which provides an impressive focal point to each floor as well as enabling staff to easily travel around the office, supporting Chaucer’s collaborative culture. On level 6, Chaucer has included a large Brokers Lounge to provide a welcoming space for trading partners and clients as well as place for entertaining and events.

above The three floors are linked by a central cantilever staircase

right On level 6, Chaucer has included a large Brokers Lounge to provide a welcoming space for trading partners and clients

‘We took advantage of our in-house design tools to communicate the design to the client via virtual conference meetings. This is a new hub that staff can be proud of

” 70 | Mix 215 September 2021


below Great care has been taken to ensure that all internal finishes are high quality and sustainable

Care has been taken to ensure that every part of the office looks and feels the same to avoid a hierarchy of spaces

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‘For the Scott Brownrigg team this marks the

natural woods harmonises with tan vegan leather

culmination of 18 months of work,’ Douaa Abdulhadi, Scott Brownrigg Senior Interior Designer, says. ‘From the early sketch plans, when we began to develop our ideas of how to best to respond to the dynamically shaped Scalpel building, maximising its potential and spectacular views, to the careful detailing of the laser cut maze wall that created the unique reception backdrop, this has been a journey of discovery with the Chaucer client and consultant team. Their delight with the result makes all of the challenges of delivering a building during the pandemic worthwhile, and we are excited to see the reactions of their staff and brokers to the new office.’ Designed by Scott Brownrigg and delivered by contractor Parkeray, great care has been taken to ensure that all internal finishes are high quality and

seating and recycled terrazzo glass worktops. ‘We worked within a tight budget – every design and product specification had to be considered carefully,’ Beatriz says. ‘Sustainability was at the centre of the design; we selected low impact materials with high-recycled content throughout. ‘We worked very closely with Showcase to align the project vision and furniture selection with the budget. Care has been taken to ensure that every part of the office looks and feels the same to avoid a hierarchy of spaces. As a result, staff areas have the same quality as the client facing areas.’ ‘This is a hugely exciting move for us,’ says John Fowle, CEO of Chaucer. ‘Providing our London team and trading partners with a new, modern, and ecofriendly space in which we can work, communicate

sustainable. A cool palate of neutral colours and

and collaborate is key. Our people have been




below The connecting staircase provides a link between the floors and allows collaboration and communication across all parts of the business

incredibly resilient and flexible since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and, as we return to EC3, our new offices are designed to encourage interaction and provide an environment that flexes to each person and each team’s needs. ‘Chaucer has ambitious plans to cement its global reputation as a leading (re)insurance specialist. Establishing our new headquarters marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the firm.’ Finally, we ask Beatriz to tell us about her favourite element of the new space. ‘The connecting staircase,’ she says. ‘This has transformed the way Chaucer works. It provides a link between the floors and allows collaboration and communication across all parts of the business. The areas adjacent to the staircase provide a central hub for the floors and it’s where real collaboration happens.’ w

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Client Chaucer Group Interior Design Scott Brownrigg Main Contractor Parkeray Furniture Supplier Showcase Interiors Flooring Milliken, Domus, Havwoods Wall Finishes Kvadrat, Panbeton Reception Wall CNC’d Corian Ceilings SAS, Autex, Kvadrat

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Rooftop bar, Altitude at The Curtain, is dressed with striped and festooned shade structures. images: mel yates

Down to a fine art Hospitality experts, Goddard Littlefair, have taken on the interiors for Mondrian’s much-anticipated Shoreditch outpost, researching the history and social fabric of the area to give guests a flavour of vibrant east London.


uring a ‘normal’ year we are inundated with a bevy of hot new hospitality openings, and, after a brief hiatus of 18 months, 2021 looks to be no different. As our thoughts drift to a future of traffic-light-free travel, Mondrian Shoreditch has opened its doors – one of the most anticipated London openings of the year, and one we were keen to peek inside. ‘When it came to designing the Mondrian, we delved deep into the history of the area to represent the colourful social fabric of Shoreditch throughout the hotel, a concept we envisioned in the early stages of the design process and a detail we then built on throughout,’ Goddard Littlefair’s Jo Goddard tells us. ‘At the heart of our concept is the inspiration we have taken from art and literature, including the traditional nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons – due to the hotel’s proximity to churches that feature in the historical rhyme,’ says Jo. ‘The longer and much less well-known version of the rhyme paints a wonderful picture of the city in the 16th and 17th century. The influence can be interpreted into the design of the interior in many different elements, from lighting to materiality.’ To bring this inspiration to life, upon entering the hotel, guests are met with spherical forms, hints of fruity colours and a youthful energy, which provide a playful framework for the interior design. The reception and lobby feature reflective finishes, with impressive artwork installations (now typical of the Mondrian portfolio), including gilded glass panels by Studio Peascod depicting a rising copper sun: ‘A ray of Californian sunshine arriving in Shoreditch,’ describes Jo. In line with Mondrian’s artistic spirit, a homage to wellknown installation artist Yayoi Kusama has been created: a fully mirrored room with colour change globes to the perimeter, large enough for a small group to stand in and take selfies: ‘The hotel’s Instagram moment,’ explains Jo. Globe

Mix 215 September 2021 | 77


below Lobby art installation

Interior Design Goddard Littlefair Furniture Inside Out Contracts, Nordal, Six the Residence, Source Furniture Lighting White and White Lighting, Mullan, Hoad & More, Northern Lights, Design Plus Light. Other suppliers Conservatory Archives

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lights circle the room, giving the viewer a sense that they are seeing themselves in infinity. A modern interpretation of the gas lanterns that were once local London streetlights are used throughout the reception lobby and ground floor, increasing in scale and stacked in tiers. Produced by Hoad & More, the lanterns draw guests from the external lobby into the new bar area, Christina’s Shoreditch. Inside, a curved copper bar transforms with the use of light, changing the ambience in the room across the day, while an assorted mix of large planting adds a natural touch. A large-scale, hand-painted mural by Fred Coppin fills the clay-rendered bulkhead above the bar and features a collection of intriguing objects alongside Fred’s signature botanical shapes. The rooftop restaurant, Altitude at The Curtain, is dressed with striped and

The entrance to the signature Onemata restaurant

above A modern interpretation of the gas lanterns that were once local London streetlights entice guests through the lobby


festooned shade structures. A black framed pergola is softened with festooned striped fabric, and the oversized rattan pendants and cane furniture offer a relaxed vibe. The influence of biophilia runs throughout the space, with planting taking a centre stage, curated by local planting connoisseurs, Conservatory Archives. The form of foliage is translated onto fabrics and walls through an oversized mural hand-painted by Lucy Robinson, Associate at Goddard Littlefair, who led the interior design team – inspired by the bold shapes found in Californian street art. The design studio paid close attention to the café bar and rooftop spaces to ensure that the areas worked throughout the day as meeting, working, and eating spaces that could transform into alluring evening venues.

Each of the public spaces link together but also have a distinct narrative, always drawing upon the rich history of east London. Goddard Littlefair’s specialist food and beverage division, Epicurean, was responsible for the design of the BiBo restaurant – founded by three Michelin Star chef, Dani García. When working with a chef of such international regard it’s only natural that the studio took great influence from his work, ethos and cuisine – bringing some of these influences into the restaurant space. BiBo itself also has a brand identity and colour palette that heavily permeates the design scheme, and the studio dovetailed the identity of Mondrian spirit with García’s culinary legacy. Located on the lower ground floor of the hotel, Goddard Littlefair’s intention for BiBo was to be a theatrical, urban

top A large-scale hand-painted mural by Fred Coppin fills the clay-rendered bulkhead above the bar at Christina’s above The reception and lobby feature reflective finishes, including gilded glass panels by Studio Peascod depicting a rising copper sun

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space with a lively energy for casual lunches and spirited dinners, with globe lights cascading in ripples down the stairs, enticing guests into the impressive restaurant space. Upstairs, the 120 guestrooms refresh encapsulates a luxurious, theatrical aesthetic, with clean white brick walls framing the headboard wall and the guest dining table areas lifted with uplifting colours a contemporary style. White pendant globes above the dining table connect the bedrooms to the concept running through the hotel, while the artwork selections draw local influence and inspiration.

‘The design process begins by listening keenly to the brief and the client in the early stages. We then have to ensure we’re on the same page and prioritising the same elements as those outlined in the brief,’ Jo tells us about the initial stages of the project. ‘Constantly checking against this throughout the design process is vital; producing early and loose options is crucial to being able to talk through the pros and cons of each avenue to try and nail down that definitive brief which will create the DNA for the design aspiration.’ This latest project comes hot on the heels of Accor’s acquisition of sbe’s hotel brands in Q4 2020, and its planned joint venture with Ennismore, which will see the creation of one of the world’s largest and fastest growing lifestyle operators in 2021.w

above BiBo restaurant

top right An installation of ceramic fish by Scabetti adds movement to the BiBo restaurant design

right Guestrooms feature clean white brick walls and contemporary colours

At the heart of our concept is the inspiration we have taken from art and literature, including the traditional nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons – due to the hotel’s proximity to churches that feature in the historical rhyme

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Cobranding Mike Walley tells us that, as part of the business’ transformation, Criteo has begun using coworking spaces or serviced offices to support smaller groups of employees in certain locations.


Mike Walley is Senior Director of Global Real Estate & Workplace Strategy at Criteo 84 | Mix 215 September 2021

t looks to be the most flexible, economic, and logical way to provide occasional space under our new hybrid working policy. Everyone was very keen to ensure that we chose the up-todate, trendy coworking sites and definitely not the old school, boring serviced office sites. We were happy to oblige – and have taken such space in the USA, China, Korea, France and Italy. We are learning some interesting lessons along the way. Back in the day, when it was just serviced offices that were available, they were often slammed as being bland and impersonal, the only sign of a company’s presence being the little plate on the door with a name or logo. But you had more freedom on the inside of your space, and I remember putting up company images and other branding to imprint the company on the space, even if only a little. We made our little coffee corners within the space and properly ‘made ourselves at home’. Our name was on the board behind reception and, if a client visited, then they could quickly see they were in the correct place. Then coworking arrived. It became all about the community, crossfertilisation, sharing for innovation etc, while corporate apps allowed you to connect with other cool companies within the space and support each other. What we all missed in this razzamatazz was that it was actually now all about tiny, impersonal spaces offset by a big, shared lounge/cafeteria with quirky (read unergonomic) furniture; a square foot per head ratio that would make a Japanese capsule hotel blush and a brand that must never be overshadowed. Ever. The private offices have large glass fronts, which cannot be obscured in any way, least of

all with anything identifying a company other than the host. A corridor full of these spaces feels a little like an aquarium with examples of different breeds of workers on show for all to see. The rule about obscuring the glass comes from both the need to suppress any other branding and the need to allow daylight to permeate the space. The densities achieved are only possible with a high percentage of ‘internal’ offices. Privacy discounted; daylight monetised. The premise of coworking is to create an economic space where you can grow a small company. But how do you do that if you can’t say your name or show your logo or use any other of the visible attributes of your own brand? Does working within the ‘community’ really offset the ability to self-promote? We have discovered that the inability to show who we are or personalise the space in any meaningful way has a detrimental impact on the ability of our people to stay connected to our own brand and culture. We may need to carefully rethink how we provide that space to protect those two valuable assets. On all the property shows dealing with people buying space to let, the one big rule is ‘make the space nice, but bland’, allowing people the opportunity to make it their own. Time and again this is ignored (conflict makes for good TV) and then it won’t rent, and they have to backtrack. I confess to being slightly bemused that so many people are happy to bury their company identity in exchange for a funky cafeteria and all day Kombucha, but that might just be me feeling my age. For now, I think we will re-visit the old school serviced office market, where the objective was for the vendor to support the clients – not the other way around. w

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