Gilbert is the result of a collaboration between sixteen3 and designer John Coleman. The collection fuses mid-century influences with clean and contemporary detailing and is available in numerous variations and finishes. Comfort, style and practical proportions combine to create a range that is well suited to a wide variety of interiors, both commercial and domestic. Gilbert is manufactured using a combination of traditional and modern manufacturing techniques and materials, and is made entirely in the UK.
Invista’s Antron carpet fibre has long been a crucial ingredient in the Zen Design tufted graphics carpet concept from Lano Flooring Solutions, ensuring performance and colour clarity within a wide variety of commercial locations. Made from nylon 6.6 fibre, Antron allows for styling flexibility with a variety of fibre sizes and lustres, as well as excellent colour reproduction. The Zen Design collection is focused on delivering style, colour clarity and durability, as well as ease of maintenance to hospitality venues, offices, leisure facilities and retail outlets.
Karndean’s commercially focused Opus collection has specifically been developed to meet the needs of the commercial market. Created with the specifier in mind, the Opus range combines style with durability and a reduced fitting time to provide a flooring solution to suit any project. With 10 stone and 12 wood effect finishes from a palette of inspiring light, mid and dark tones, Opus offers both smooth and textured finishes and a choice of six natural coloured grout strips to provide a complete package.
Maciek Wojcicki designed the Loft workstation for use in home offices and studio spaces. It has an adjustable platform and can be customised to suit different occupational needs and spaces. Loft has work surfaces, lighting, shelving, screens, boards and cable-management features, and does not impose a mode or style of work on the user. It was shortlisted for the Helen Hamlyn Design Award and was exhibited at 100% Futures as part of 100% Design.
Moving boxes shelving, which is part of the City Collection, is ideal for storing magazines, files or paper-cases within its special dividers or holders. The location and amount of boxes can be specified by the client and can change the style by sliding along the shelving. The shelves are both functional and practical and made of mdf with oak and venge veneers.
George Gottl likes to talk about the dream-like quality of his work and that of the design agency he co-runs, Uxus. Step into his office – on the fifth floor of a picturesque Art Nouveau-style office building in the heart of Amsterdam – and you will see what he means. “Poetry. That’s another quality,” he offers. “Poetry and the idea of a space for fantasy where people can let their ideas imaginations roam. We feel that a nice environment really helps encourage creativity at least while you’re in it.” Nice? It’s a lot better than nice this office. The Uxus team must feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven – quite literally.Established in 2003 by Californian-born designer Gottl and architect Oliver Michell, Uxus has made quite a name for itself on the design scene. Their penchant for “the mysterious” and interest in “old and new world fables” has captured the imagination of a plethora of high-profile clients and the commissions are coming thick and fast. Hence the redesign and extension of their office, which is now twice its original size. Gottl and Michell’s talents combined have made Uxus a force to be reckoned with, tackling everything from interior architecture through to packaging design and branding. Prior to setting up Uxus, Gottl was a creative director for Nike (which brought him to his beloved Amsterdam) and then Mandarina Duck. Michell’s CV is just as impressive, boasting time spent in the studios of Rem Koolhaas and Paul Davis Architects, following on from his studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.Their projects are as varied and exciting as their formidable experience would imply, and all are imbued with the imaginative or “dream-like” quality that Gottl refers to. None more so than the design for their own office, the location of which only serves to feed their enthusiasm for all things fantastical. “The whole area is very fairytale-like,” Gottl explains. “We’re very lucky – we’re right in the middle of the Jordan district of the city which used to be the old Bohemian part of town.” It was also the site of the Jewish ghetto, incidentally. Anne Frank’s house is a close neighbour, as is the famous Westerkerk (West Church), designed and built in the Dutch Renaissance style. The office block in which Uxus is happily ensconced dates back to 1910, and despite their overwhelmingly contemporary take on design, they adore the period features that have remained intact, including a golden staircase that leads up from the main lobby and the gilded black granite pillars that make for a majestic entrance to their own office space. But the grandness of the public spaces give way to a more ghostly, mystical aesthetic once inside the office, starting with the glass wall – a simple idea made spectacular with the insertion of a black antique door for a touch of Victorian gothic. This grand illusion forms the entrance to the creative directors’ office, furnished sparingly with a bespoke desk (the same design can be seen in the communal workspaces) topped off with the spider-like Dear Ingo chandelier by Ron Gilad for Moooi. White linen ceiling-to-floor curtains, custom-made in Italy, hang throughout the office. “It’s very simple and very tranquil,” says Gottl of the scheme, “including the diaphanous colours we’ve used. My favourite element is the floating door, but what you won’t see from the pictures is the amazing view that we have here. It’s unbelievable. From one room we can see right onto the Westerkerk and down the Keizersgracht [Amsterdam’s main canal] with all the bridges lined up. Even people who have lived here all their life say they have never seen the city from this perspective before.”Apart from its awesome outlook, there is something very unique about the Uxus office. It is as tranquil as Gottl claims, but the careful choice and application of objects, bought and found, add interest and a sense of mystery to the proceedings. One of the most beguiling is a 3D artwork left over from a 1960s renovation. Made of cement, it’s stuck fast to a wall, and rather than attempt to remove it during the overhaul, Uxus decided to leave it alone. Strange though it might seem, it looks just as at home as the rest of the furniture and furnishings – many of which are satisfyingly rough around the edges, such as the steel postal desk dotted with amber apothecary bottles, and clunky industrial light fittings in the reception space. The monolithic desks may be appropriately business-like, with serious (but stylish) task chairs to match, but the conference room table is dressed with reclaimed wood chairs by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. In the library, meanwhile, luminous floral artworks by British fashion photographer Nick Knight hang above another conference-style table, surrounded by second-hand chairs found in a flea market, painted with white gloss to bring them back to life.The office, Gottl confirms, is perfectly suited to the Uxus worth ethic. “We get designers who stay here beyond their duty because it’s so pleasant. And we have guys hanging out here drinking beer on a Friday – Friday is beer Friday!” he shouts excitedly, before adding, more seriously, “It’s really about developing a sense of community in the office.” Well, it’s clearly working. The workforce has grown to ten people, although that must be down to the ever-increasing workload rather than the lure of “beer Friday”, tempting though it sounds. They are currently working on some very exciting commissions for top-name brands including Heineken, Levi’s, Nike, Adidas and McDonalds. The latter is going to be big news, according to Gottl. All of which means that they may need to expand further into the building. “If we keep growing at the rate that we are we’ll probably take another floor,” he laughs, “and actually our conference room connects to a staircase that leads up to an amazing, beautiful vaulted space.” Rapunzel, make way.
T7 from Gresham combines functionality with design, providing a chair that is both ergonomically superior and attractive. Its features enable good seating posture ensuring the highest degree of comfort and style and conference chairs complement the range in offering a choice of cantilever and auto-return options to enable prolonged periods of sitting during management or executive meetings.
Words by Helen PartonLondon–based architecture and design practice Jump Studios was called on to expand the headquarters of smoothie-maker Innocent. Helen Parton went along to experience the fresh, playful offices that bring the outside inThe west-London based smoothie manufacturer may be innocent by name, but you don’t get a £100 million turnover in just your eighth year of trading by being a pushover. And that goes for being a workplace design client too.
“They see themselves as very down to earth and they didn’t want anything too considered,” says Jump Studio’s project architect Laszlo Fecske over a smoothie or two in Innocent’s reception – well it’d be rude not to sample the goods, right? “There was the challenge of pushing them towards something more designed.” Jump undertook the task of transforming Innocent’s headquarters this year in just 12 weeks on site. “There was a high level of non-design,” agrees Jump’s director Simon Jordan. “We provided them with a working space that was a much richer experience and all of their activities would play themselves out in a much more comfortable and convenient way.”
Although Innocent may call home Fruit Towers – and to give them their due I suspect this is rather a tongue in cheek moniker – anyone expecting a gleaming pillar of glass and steel in a prime London location will be sorely disappointed. The offices are to be found in a converted semi-industrial space on a small business park near Shepherd’s Bush. Stepping outside with Jordan, I get a sense of what they had to work with. Trump Tower it ain’t, but then that’s hardly in keeping with a company that trades on a rather anti-corporate stance, but more on that later. Before the refurbishment, the staff occupied units four, five and six of the building with much of unit three being taken up with an industrial-sized freezer, which was too big a piece of the infrastructure to move. Jump therefore worked on unit one, where the reception area was relocated, and unit two, ensuring the new spaces were in keeping with what existed already. Office manager Jenny Whitmore explains the brief: “Our vision for Fruit Towers is to provide an area that enables us to work and socialise in a relaxed, informal environment, while encouraging us to be productive. We’ve grown so quickly over the past few years and were in desperate need of more space; for individual work, meetings, lunches and after-work activities like yoga. We asked Jump Studios to help us create a natural, premium space that included four more meeting rooms, a large communal area and lots of desks, including a hot-desk area. Our hope was that the office would be relaxed and informal, without being over the top, or ‘cartoony’.”
To ensure the new 250sq m mezzanine level blended seamlessly with the other mezzanine areas, a substantial steel framework was created, its columns cast in concrete deep into the foundations for strength. The kitchen area, next to the stairs – which has a market stall-type operation at the front, choc full of all the goodies that go into making those more-ish smoothies – was double the size of what existed previously. Whitmore enthuses: “It’s my favourite part of the office. We all spend over 40 hours a week here and I was absolutely passionate about making a space people feel happy in and it’s really nice to have that reflected in a large bustling kitchen in the middle of the office.”The bathroom areas were previously much smaller as well – now Innocent’s 194 staff have three showers and five bathrooms, with Jump creating a passageway that is both architecturally appealing, drawing the eye through the space, and is also far more logical in terms of layout. “They were very cramped before – everybody was crowded into one space,” adds Jordan. “The brief was to amalgamate the two units they acquired to provide more working space and open up the space so the company could come together. One of the things that encapsulates the company is these big meetings they have on a Monday.”
The focal point for the scheme is the large area containing picnic-style tables, which can be lined up together to create a very long boardroom-style table, plus oversize diner style seating on one side. “This was custom-made upholstered ply and had to be strong enough to have people standing on it,” explains Fecske.
Innocent started in the summer of 1998, when three friends bought £500 worth of fruit, turned it into smoothies and sold them at a stall of a music festival one weekend, resigning from their jobs the following Monday. Now an international operation, the company turns over two million units a week, capturing around two thirds of the UK market alone according to market intelligence providers IRI Infocan last year. The firm hopes to capitalise in a similar way in the overseas markets it has already penetrated. To reflect this, there is a fuzzy-felt style map of the world on the wall and, on a more practical level, a screen can drop down from the mezzanine level for videoconferencing from other Innocent locations, which range from France to Sweden to Ireland. “I love seeing the large communal space being used for so many different activities from our Monday morning meeting with the whole company to individual people working away quietly to everyone sitting down and having lunch together,” says Whitmore. If all this sounds too good to be true then, rest assured, I saw with my own eyes the ranks of young, fresh-faced employees, many willingly clad in company branded T-shirts and hoodies – unless this was all a front and the moment I left they were all shoved back into their airless crates and told to get rowing again.
It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as envisaged by airbrush king David LaChapelle, and to complete the Willy Wonka analogy they even have a laboratory in the older part of the building – except instead of run by orange midgets, the casting this time has been straight out of an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement. Couple this with a Friday beer trolley, homebaked birthday cakes, baby bonuses and profit-related pay and it’s no wonder they’ve been voted best workplace in the UK by the Guardian and the Sunday Times.
For those about to develop a nasty case of office envy, however, let me tell you that, functionally, it’s not 100 per cent perfect – the mezzanine level still feels a little cramped, the ceiling height makes me, as just shy of six-feet tall, worry if I’ll bang my head and on the hot June day I visited, it did feel a bit on the warm side. “The space is unusual for an office,” admits Whitmore. “We needed to make sure every potential challenge was eventually beneficial to us. This included adding three mezzanines from it initially being all on one level and utilising the large amount of natural light we have.
“There’s quite a few little corners that aren’t big enough to fit a desk, let alone a meeting room, so we’ve filled them with bean bags, hammocks and hanging chairs so people here can enjoy a bit of quiet time. Those spaces are really important as they allow people to take time away from their desks and think.”
For more formal meetings, Jump has also included two square rooms opposite the kitchen, with beech walls and more grass on the roof to maintain a back-to-nature theme. Innocent’s strong branding is very much in evidence from the moment you approach the offices, in front of which is parked a phalanx of vans decorated with either a cow pattern or covered in fake grass. The company’s advertising campaign belongs to the hello-birds-hello-sky, folksy whimsy school of thought, but at least they’re trying to flog us one of our five-a-day and not some unbreakable 18-month phone contract. Jump, of course, is no stranger to highly successful brands – its clients have included Nike, Levi’s and Red Bull. In Innocent’s case, Fecske says diplomatically, “They are quite opinionated about what they liked and what they didn’t like.” The fake grass from the existing units was continued over into the new ones and, as Whitmore adds, finally, “We’ve used the wall spaces really well and there’s lots of quirky touches around, like the baby photos, the table football and the phone box. The office feels quirky, fresh and innovative. We’re delighted with the finished product.”