It’s not surprising that Canary Wharf leaves some Londoners scratching their heads. As a place, it doesn’t particularly look or feel like it belongs in London, nor does it have any of the city’s higgledy piggledy charms. In fact, one might say it has the opposite effect – almost as if a North American city, a miniature Dallas, let’s say, has landed like an alien spaceship on top of what used to be the Docklands of east London, but is now part of another dimension.The reality, it could reasonably be argued, isn’t far off.
What was previously a wilderness of derelict industrial buildings centred on the old West India Docks has been, over a relatively short period of time, utterly transformed. Flash forward from 1988, when the foundation of One Canada Square was first laid down, and you now find a group of skyscrapers and concrete canyons home to one of the foremost financial centres in the world – a corporate workplace bubble with 1.4m sq m of office space, and a formidable rival to the Square Mile. Disused factories and warehouses have given way to bank headquarters and All Bar Ones and, from a certain perspective, the area has been successfully regenerated.
Yet, 20 years later, as the sun rose and set on the Docklands skyline, painting its towers that shimmering gold east Londoners had grown accustomed to seeing, the irony was painfully clear. Almost overnight, Canary Wharf had morphed into a symbol for what was going spectacularly wrong. With banks folding and the economy collapsing under us like so many wooden toothpicks, the light atop the tallest building in the UK now flashed like a warning sign and the questions sprouted up like mushrooms. Is Canary Wharf as outdated as the boom-and-bust financial model it had supported for two decades, and how will it change in light of the downturn, if at all? Are we comfortable with the precedent it has set for new developments in London and other parts of the UK? And most significantly, why does it feel so… artificial?
Of course there are no immediate answers to these questions but going back to the beginning helps to make sense of Canary Wharf as a place, which has been controversial from the point the Isle of Dogs was designated an ‘Enterprise Zone’ in the early 1980s. Local people felt inherently suspicious of it. Others were (and still are) dubious of the political context that gave it shape. Still, despite this and the collapse of the commercial property market in the early 1990s, it gathered momentum and eventually was accepted as a necessary evolution in London office design – a flagship for a new British economy.
Transport links came in and more office towers went up in Churchill Place, Canada Square, North Collonade, Bank Street and beyond. Banking giants including Barclays, HSBC and Citigroup, plus major media companies such as Reuters and The Independent also made Docklands their home.
“Canary Wharf was brilliantly timed,” says Frank Duffy, architect and founder of the workplace consultancy DEGW. “Suddenly it was possible to shift money around the world at lightning speed and London was terribly short of good office space. It was a time of great excitement and things moving forward.”
Following the deregulation of the London Stock Exchange in 1986, the financial services industry throttled forward and needed the architecture to accommodate it. Global investment banks required vast floor plates to conduct business – and property developers were chomping at the bit.
Docklands had more or less lain dormant for a decade and it was here that the Thatcher government encouraged growth via one of its (now defunct) Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) – public bodies, often chaired by property developers, which could give tax breaks and drastically loosen planning permission in designated areas for regeneration. This meant that vast areas of cities, in this case Docklands, could be lumped together and owned privately, with very little planning restrictions on new buildings. The result is a kind of city within a city, and may be a core reason why Canary Wharf is criticized for not being properly integrated into its surroundings.
According to Anna Minton, author of the recently published Ground Control, a book examining the impact of privately owned developments on UK cities, these UDCs laid the framework for Canary Wharf and what she calls “the architecture of extreme capitalism”, which has popped up in Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol, Leicester and other ‘regenerated’ industrial areas around the country.
Minton’s main argument is that this most recent financial meltdown is a time to take stock in places like Canary Wharf. Does it deliver what we need in business and as a society?
“There is a very stark division between Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs – that was predicted when it was put into place,” says Minton. “The whole premise of Thatcher’s ‘Trickle Down’ theory to the sections of the community who need it is a complete fallacy.
“My main problem is this is the model for every new development around the country. It’s an economic model that doesn’t work – it’s based on debt, high rents and service charges. I’m not saying Docklands should be repopulated by artists’ studios and roof gardens – but we do need to admit to ourselves that there is a big problem with the way we’re doing things. I don’t think we should blindly follow in its footsteps.”
Beyond the philosophical argument, there is no doubt that Docklands has proved vulnerable to economic shock. Its first owners, Olympia and York, had to be rescued from bankruptcy in 1992 and the development was severely affected by a financial downturn at the beginning of the noughties.
The recent figures also paint a picture of uncertainty. According to James Roberts, head of research for letting agents Knight Frank, vacancy rates in Canary Wharf are running at 11.9 per cent, which is quite a rise from Canary Wharf Group’s own figure at the end of 2008 of .03 per cent. Roberts adds that rental values for prime space have dropped 30 per cent (from £50 to £35 per square foot) from their peak in 2007.
“When the banks were expanding, they were taking really large chunks of space, and now there is more space coming onto the market than is coming off,” he says.
Kelvin Davidson, property economist for Capital Economics, predicts that rental values across the city of London, including Canary Wharf, will fall further because of low demand and a surplus of space.
What’s more, tenants are using space more efficiently. Paul Statham, managing director for RNM Systems, which produces Condeco, a workplace management software, says his company’s turnover has risen by 80 per cent in the last year. Three major banks in Canary Wharf, including Barclays, have employed RNM to help them better manage their space. Another RNM client reduced their space by half, says Statham.
“The cost savings are obvious if you don’t have to buy another office building when you’ve reached capacity,” he says. “We have lots of clients that have looked at their real estate and had to reassess – you simply can’t afford to have empty office space, so you have to reduce it.”
Some of this is down to a new approach to work, he adds. “People don’t need a desk, the culture has changed and I think going into the next five or ten years, they won’t need to have a physical presence – they can have a virtual presence.”
But as a spokesman for Canary Wharf Group was keen to point out, in the midst of the disintegration of Lehman Brothers, a £237m deal was secured with JP Morgan, which is due to develop a building in Docklands for its European headquarters to be completed in 2012.
Nomura’s announcement that it will move out of Canary Wharf and into the City next year does come as a blow despite Canary Wharf Group’s four- year insurance cover for potential rent defaults. It raises the question of whether some firms would like to disassociate themselves with Canary Wharf following the financial collapse.
A Nomura spokesperson said the decision to move “was the final step away from the transaction a year ago” (meaning the demise of Lehman Brothers, where Nomura acted as administrators) but also that the City was “more convenient” and “made more sense”.
So how will all of this uncertainty affect things like leases? Knight Frank’s Roberts expects lease lengths to be more flexible, and likely shortened for sublets as occupants expand and contract depending on the economy. Kelvin Davidson adds: “People signed into long leases aren’t going to break them although more and more are opting for break clauses, and that ups the risk of losing tenants.”
Interestingly, shorter leases and dropping rents mean a potential diversification of occupants – which could add a new texture to life at Canary Wharf, and possibly a welcome one. Advertising, construction, media, IT and public sector organisations including the 2012 Olympics organisers, Crossrail and a branch of the Metropolitan Police have leased space: “You are seeing some new tenants moving into the Wharf – but you couldn’t say that the new activity is compensating for the losses during the financial crisis,” Roberts reminds us.
Still, the financial crisis has halted several large-scale building projects in other parts of London, and a sharp decline in planning them, which implies that in a few years there might be a shortage of office space – and therefore a development like Canary Wharf is well positioned to reap the benefit.
Davidson agrees: “There will be a point when much of that vacant space is absorbed and rental values will rise again – and developers will respond by building. History shows that legs are built into the system – it’s all very cyclical.”
However, Songbird Estates Ltd, CWG’s majority shareholder, was forced to refinance last month so as not to breach Citi loan covenants of £880m.
So is it good news or bad news for Canary Wharf? It’s still a question for those hoping the credit crunch would induce a radical change in the commercial property market and the industries that fuel it.
Paul Burgess, a director for British Land, believes that the systemic changes happening now, ‘post-crunch’, could potentially have a profound impact on the next generation of office buildings in London. Floor plate size, configuration and specification will all be influenced by the needs of a wider net of occupiers, he says, and the possibility of a more regulated financial industry would mean a new approach to designing buildings.
It’s a shift that Frank Duffy would welcome, although he questions whether it would go far enough to accommodate a whole range of patterns of use within the ‘knowledge economy’. Existing office buildings are a redundant idea, he suggests, and are not sustainable in the long run. In the future, successful buildings will be more permeable and able to shift, for example, from office, to flats, to retail – and will complement and engage with their surroundings more than now.
“The weakness of a development like Canary Wharf is that those buildings were designed in an architectural tradition of mono-functionality. They do one job, they’re brittle – they can’t accommodate change,” Duffy explains. The developers got it right at a certain moment in time, he says, but we need to ask ourselves what happens after ten, 20 or even 75 years and how these buildings can potentially be used in other ways.
“The genie is out of the bottle. You do not have to go to work to work,” he says. “The question is how do you justify ‘place’ in an increasingly technologically connected world? Now you have highly mobile people who are not working in the patterns of the 20th century. Which formula would you put your money on for the preferred model of the 21st century? I don’t think that model is Canary Wharf or any office building as we know it.”
If you spy a spray-painted pigeon or a shrink-wrapped bicycle around Brick Lane or Spitalfields during the London Design Festival, it may well be a curio by design workshop Campaign. Follow the low-key trail of objects, and you’ll stumble on its studio, inconspicuous among the otherwise dusty, historic doors of Princelet Street, just off Brick Lane.Campaign was set up to push the boundaries of the consumer experience through new methods and media. Its office, which opens its doors (and its roof garden) during the festival, tells its own unique and engaging brand story. The whitewashed floor, laid over the original floorboards of the split-level converted apartment, cost £3.50/m – the cheapest laminate on the market. The desk from which they all work, known as the Alchemy Table, is made from whitewashed recycled furniture – doors, desks, bureaus and tables, fused together to form one collaborative work surface meandering through the open-plan space: “This is the table which I started the company from,” says creative director Philip Handford. The desks of Neil Sharman, head of interiors, and Aaron Richardson, head of graphics, are locked onto it, with a backwards-facing chair welded on as an impromptu perch point. Daniel Wang, a graduate in animated architecture from The Bartlett School of Architecture, and the most recent addition to the team, is furthest away, using a welded-on, discarded executive desk surface, acquired from a reclaimed furniture depot under the old railway arches a stone’s throw away. A fixed lamp protrudes upward from the table, and extra legs and balustrades support the irregular construct. “We self-commissioned the project on a budget of nothing, and created a poetic idea out of something cost effective; it was a perfect first project,” Handford explains. Behind the desk, a circular table is where meetings take place, and a back wall plastered with print-outs is a space for collaborating on ideas. A second-hand wardrobe supports a newly acquired projector, to introduce new media to meetings and presentations.Behind this Handford’s wife runs a business from a constructed wooden and glass ‘box’ office on castors, and beyond this is their living space. “It’s intense living and working in the same space,” says Handford, “but at the moment I enjoy that intensity.” To add to the quasi-domesticity of the space, Effie, a nine-month-old pug belonging to Neil Sharman pads affably around the place. Handford’s background is in retail design, a specialism that demands “a depth of thought, time and effort in looking at a subject, and how you design space around it.” Having previously worked at Imagination, Virgile & Stone and BarberOsgerby, he’s designed commercial environments for a host of international clients. Campaign is currently collaborating with Christopher Bailey, creative director of Burberry, on a comprehensive series of furniture ranges for Burberry’s new global headquarters in London, as well as the American headquarters in New York and some new store concepts. It is also currently working on print work for the University of Arts London and the branding for a teenage fashion brand; lined up is a restaurant interior and a spa on the Kings Road. “We’re look-ing forward to working on interiors, from offices to hairdressers,” says Handford.Right now, though, it’s all hands on deck with the pop-up store in the centre of Spitalfields market that Campaign has designed for the festival for Dr Martens. Observing it during the ‘popping’ process, light bulbs hang from telephone cords, transparent luminous yellow warehouse curtaining hangs down around a central space, Gypframe metal cages lie ready to display boots, and a team industriously polish away at the glass shell. The test samples on the floor of Campaign’s office strongly suggest stencils and spray paint will be a final finishing feature.“Working with creative brand managers Fresh, we had to change the space on a minimal budget in a minimal time frame,” says Handford. “The story behind the store is ‘warehouse’ – instead of walking into a shop you are entering Dr Martens’ backroom, a space that’s usually off-limits.” It’s a utilitarian aesthetic that uses a readily available palette of materials in a creative and slightly guerilla way. And like Campaign’s office space, it is a resourceful, economical and engaging space, an aesthetic that looks set to thrive, especially as corporates seek out smaller consultants whose work ethos tends to place vision over overheads.Handford set up Campaign in January at a difficult time when the recession was biting hard. The studio was set up “in a low key, low overhead kind of way”. Almost everything in the new workplace has been acquired from the smattering of second-hand dealers and reclaimed furniture yards that populate this patch of east London. It’s an approach that has helped them to get up and running quickly, and business it seems, has followed suit.
72 Rivington Street, until last summer, was a slightly neglected portfolio maker’s warehouse in the heart of Shoreditch, facing on to the slick and established Rivington Place art venue.This summer the space has been converted by the creative agency YCN, to become the new base for its administration, as well as a studio for freelance contributors and collaborators, and an exhibition-cum-library space to draw in the public. “It was a quite conscious decision to design the ground floor to lure people in off the street,” lead designer on the project Tomas Klassnik explains. “Cutting through the heart of Shoreditch, Rivington Street is a guaranteed thoroughfare for creative, and sometimes crazy people.”YCN director Nick Defty turned to architecture and research company Klassnik Corporation to design the project, who in turn, got members of Okay Studio, a contingent of RCA design products alumni, to install and build it.“Working with OKAY, you know you can push the boat out that bit further,” says Klassnik. “There are none of the usual designer maker barriers, the process is more of a discussion.” The narrow, but deep, three storey build, which backs on to a small patch of leafy space in the otherwise industrial backyard of Shoreditch High Street, will soon boast a roof garden to boot.The publicly accessible ground floor is currently a magazine library designed with the potential to become other things, Klassnik explains. He points to the use of lockable casters on the storage/display units. These mean that the units can be repositioned and reconfigured, or fixed together in their original jigsaw formation under an over-arching black chalkboard that the graphic designers use to advertise what’s on in the gallery. This is where the collaborative effort of product, architectural and graphic designers comes into its own; one cupboard wheels out in the shape of an arrow “and can be dragged onto the street to signpost the shop,” Klassnik explains. At the moment another is a being used as a platform for Brighton graduate Kyle Bean’s degree show work Mobile Evolution, which features a row of oversized model mobile phones that slot inside one another like Russian dolls. Another two stepped units can be used as part time plinths for exhibition pieces, or as staggered seats should the space be used as a film screening auditorium. A larger component, when pulled out, divides up the space for different users. There is a built in reception desk, which can be spun around, to become the public-facing entrance of the room. Neat and clever, the painted white mdf designs are not fussy or imposing within the small, clean, poured-concrete floored space.Rob Thurling, carpenter and designer of Shroud Me, Peter Marigold and Oscar Narud of Okay Studio all had a hand in both the permanent and the flexible structures.An acrylic mirror dissolves the mass of the wall by the entrance and gives way to the staircase that leads up to YCN’s office on the first floor. A great influx of design entries for the open competitions that the organisation runs throughout the year meant a flexible admin system was essential for this space, Klassnik explains.A continuous grey plywood ribbon of a desk by Narud and Marigold provides a horizontal work surface that extends into vertical archway entrance into the office space; “we wanted to create thresholds between different workspaces, without putting up walls,” Klassnik explains. The desking system, built from plywood, has Bisley metal systems inserted into it at different heights and odd angles, and bespoke shelves to accommodate notes, invites and reminders.A storage system resembling a stacked up pile of irregular size cardboard boxes fills one wall, creating a hybrid between art installation and filing system. Wipe-board acrylic covers are attached so as the contents of the box changes, you can write/scrawl a label on it accordingly, a system that fits the rotating schedule of competitions and in-house designers.“We noticed in the last building (a much smaller space on Cannon Street) a whole host of post-its, Polaroids and notices plastered to the wall,” Klassnik explains. He accommodates this with a large sliding whiteboard that moves along the back wall bookcase, which can also be used to cover up anything confidential.Owing to its previous life as a warehouse, the first floor has doors that open onto the street. The meeting table that occupies the front half of the space is another bespoke mdf piece, with jagged jaw teeth cut into one end. “We push that end of the meeting table out through the windows, so it hangs over Rivington Street,” Klassnik says; a coy ploy to grab people’s attention.Right across the street is David Adjaye’s Rivington Place, a new-build public gallery and exhibition space completed two years ago, “good competition” Klassnik remarks, “on a different scale.”
Another floor up a more homely working environment presides. “Whichever designers are in residence can work from here,” explains Klassnik. “It has been a productive and accommodating space.” The meeting table, in the shape of a giant star, where different parties collaborate, has sections that can be wheeled apart. “Defty was clear in his brief that he wanted designers to come together and work in the space, both together, and individually.” A sliding panel chalkboard can, accordingly, divide or unite the floor. An opening in the ceiling marks the spot where the stairs to the roof garden will appear in the final phase of the project.
As well as a workplace, the site provides a space for YCN designers to invite clients, including BT, Orange, BBC, Sunday Times and Skype. Some work is the result of YCN-run competitions, the rest is commissioned.
When creating a graphic identity for the building, YCN chose to brand it by location rather than company so it could exist as an independent entity, where other people could come to to work. They turned to creative consultants Eat Sleep Work/Play to turn the address, 72 Rivington Street, into a moniker and logo. The graphic, based on the physical plan of the building’s three floors, appears on bags, web pages, and some limited addition posters; what more could you expect from the graphic identity of a design company?
"Not being able to feed my cat.”
There it was: my fundamental fear of the recession scribbled on a post-it note for twenty-five strangers to see at the School of Life, the new cultural experiment in central London.
It was a humbling experience, this, in light of the ‘not being able to pay my mortgage’ and the ‘losing my small business’ post-its also on display. Though, rationally speaking, it’s unlikely that the failing economy would force me to starve my feline – anxiety about keeping my job (and all of its attendant worries about money, battered self confidence, starving cat) was just the sort of thing we came to the School to explore during its intensive two day course about work. Mind you, this is not just self improvement mumbo jumbo. The School of Life takes a cerebral approach to some of life’s stickier issues. While I did draw a chaotic map of my career with coloured pens and write my own obituary (particularly eye opening), these self reflective exercises were balanced with lectures drawing on literature, psychoanalysis, film and history that kept us well clear of the campfire circle, kumbayah territory I was secretly dreading. So, less about soggy emotion, more about expanding the mind to get more out of everyday life.Tucked away in a Georgian building on Marchmont Street (with fantastical interiors by Susanna Edwards and Joseph Harries), The School of Life was founded by ex-Tate curator Sophie Howarth as a way to address the gaping abyss between culture and those two dirtiest of four letter words: self help. The idea was to provide a platform to discuss big ideas as well as the niggling questions in ones own life – why don’t we have more stimulating conversations with friends? Should everyone be treated equally? What makes some jobs more fulfilling than others? To lead the way, Howarth compiled a ‘faculty’ of experts including Toby Litt, Martin Parr and founding member Alain de Botton, whose forthcoming book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work touches on many of the same themes as the course. But the school offers more than just its courses on work, family, politics, love and play. The curriculum involves everything from secular sermons (on punctuality, good design, curiosity and so on), discussion meals, bibliotherapy, lectures and alternative holidays to Heathrow or up the M1.But instead of espousing a specific philosophy or viewpoint, the School presents a wide variety of ideas, both high and low. This is crystalised in the offering of books in its enchanting shop, assembled like an apothecary to treat what ails you – be it a broken heart, loneliness, a deep-seated curiosity about death or a soul-destroying job. (Ahead of the work course, we were steered toward a number of tomes including Tom Hodgkinson’s How To Be Idle and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London). Seemingly, the School of Life ethos is very much about giving ‘students’ the tools to recalibrate ways of thinking about love, work or whatever it is that needs attention. Before launching last September, de Botton worked with Howarth on an outline of what the School should be serving up and, of course, what it should avoid. “There were two fears: one was the kind of Oprah thing, the other was it turning into a neo religious bible study group or something,” he says as we sit in his living room a couple weeks after my stint on the work course. “We thought there were dangers with both and we wanted it to be somewhere in the middle. Really it’s about trying to promote an examined life or a kind of intelligent self-help.” A gargantuan feat in Britain, no doubt, but de Botton believes there is a place for it: “Self help is a troubling term that people often run away from, but I’ve come to almost embrace it with a bit of nuance. The idea of books or lectures that will train you to look at your life in a new way or direct you to new ideas – that to me is what culture should be doing and should be about.”Another driving factor in providing this particular kind of ‘School’ is that London can be such a lonely city: “Not romantically lonely, but we felt that it was lacking a place where you can go to have sincere, deep conversations about things. It has a million bars and a million clubs, but you tend to go to them with people you already know, and if you do talk to people it may be more about seduction than conversation. The idea was to create a place and a community where people can come to have a different kind of encounter.”It’s true. During the work course I swapped stories and ideas with an array of people – a rare book dealer, a doctor, a primary school teacher, an IT consultant, a graphic designer, an advertising executive. Despite our obvious differences, we were all there to chat about our jobs and whether we really enjoyed them (me and the rare book dealer), wanted a change (doctor) or thought perhaps there was a way to get more out of it (IT consultant). What was most surprising, though, was to find out that de Botton himself was not immune to career doubts and that being involved in The School of Life was an outlet for him to explore other sides of himself. “I think all of us at the end of our lives will feel that there were bits of us that we didn’t get a chance to investigate and didn’t get a chance to externalise. The great dream of work is being able to take what’s precious in you and give it a shape in the outside world,” he says.This idea of fulfilment in work – and whether it is really achievable for everybody – is something de Botton has tried to tackle in his book and which our course leader, Anne Braybon, also focused on.“It does seem to be the 18th century where this bourgeois philosophy takes hold – that you can work for love, as it were,” says de Botton. “Historically, its right there at the beginning of the United States as an ideology and through history gets reflected back onto the whole world. Now it’s become a kind of global phenomenon.” Is this idea of happiness in work a pipe dream, I ask him, because after going through The School of Life I realized that I might be one of the lucky ones. “It is a beautiful idea, but on the other hand you have Christianity or Buddhism telling you that life is essentially frustration and you’ll never achieve anything solid because it’s a constant, ongoing struggle. And the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, it’s not clear-cut. We’re all such bizarre little ants crawling around doing these jobs, and I include myself in that category, and it’s partly sublime and partly ridiculous. At every level, it’s got that tension.”In his book, de Botton does manage to capture this tension in his portraits of the enthusiastic entrepreneur who made shoes for walking on water, or the rocket scientists who launch a satellite for Japanese soap operas, or the man who painted the same oak tree every day for many years.“I was struck when researching this book that there is very little writing about work. Very little has been written on what it feels like in the office at three in the afternoon or what a factory sounds or smells like. Some journalists go to Timbuktu to tell us about exotic places and peoples, but I wanted to use those same techniques to go into the most ordinary of places - at the same time keeping hold of some big questions like ‘what’s the point of this?’” In his book and on the course, all of those questions remain unanswered. There are no positive mantra chants and at times the exploration can be disconcerting or even painful. “At the end of the day I wanted to make a more novelistic, impressionistic sort of book that would simply raise topics and leave questions floating rather than answered.” The School of Life works in much the same way, raising questions and allowing students to come to their own conclusions.
In these tough economic times, when it’s hard to know what’s round the corner, many people are understandably reluctant to put down permanent roots in terms of where they work.
You wouldn’t want to walk into Burberry’s new HQ underdressed, this building would show you up. Corinthian grey marble floors, dark oak panelling and polished black chrome all spell out classic, unbudging style.
The work of Belfast-based Hackett Hall McKnight does a lot to answer the question of whether great architecture is happening in the far corners of the UK. Having beat stiff London competition for the coveted Young Architect of the Year Award (YAYA), HHM is another reminder that exceptional work is done by architects based outside of London. In fact, one could say that, in terms of architecture, HHM has put Northern Ireland (and Belfast in particular) on the map.
Tom Holbrook appears very patient of the attempts by property managers to install suspended ceiling panels in the multi-use creative workspace in Cambridgeshire that his practice, 5th Studio, has completed.
The Modular bench, seen here, was recently featured at Tent London. Created as a seating unit for small spaces, the bench system can be re-arranged and set to become an arm chair, a small table and even a couch by sticking the arms and back boards into different holes and transforming the cushions.
Two years ago, Angus Pond Architects took on the fit-out of Stella McCartney concessions in Harvey Nichols stores, first in London, then New York, Tokyo and beyond. Elaborately decorated with oversized aluminium spray-painted petals, they are at the showy and flamboyant end of retail fit-out.