Dutch designer Maurice Mentjens‘ office design for creative agency Born05 creates a ‘journey through time’, balancing historical features with modern and surreal elements.
Based in a historical district in Utrecht, the Maliehuis building dates back to 1637 when it was a simple inn. Subsequently, it has served as a gentlemen’s club, a residence, a school, an office, a bank and a museum.
“Each time [the building was renovated], the mood of the building has been different,” says Mentjens.
He wanted his design to capture its rich history and the transformations it had undergone. This also fits neatly with Born05’s motto “We design journeys’, which refers to the storytelling that underpins its work.
“For me, the genius loci, the spirit of the place, is often the starting point,” says Mentjens. “Visitors travel on a journey along the timeline of the Maliehuis and at the same time they travel through the different disciplines of Born05.”
The ‘journey’ begins in the entrance hall with a orange glass porch designed to submerge visitors in a “warm, visionary world”. The mirrored reception desk reflects the chequered flooring, creating the illusion that the pattern continues and shifts as you move into the space.
The rooms have been stripped of everything that was added post 1970s including wall coverings, ceiling tiles and flooring to expose the historical features. The old wooden beams and floorboards that have been exposed are supposed to imitate a building that has fallen into disrepair, rather than an elegant national historic house.
The original details are contrasted with modern details, such as glass dividing walls and an open black stairway that allows light to filter through the space. Whimsical details include a custom-designed carpet based on the wood grain of the floorboards and a giant book that references Born05’s content marketing activities.
The second and third floors house the creatives and contain branched lighting fixtures that are reminiscent of printed circuit boards. The table in the black meeting room curls up “like a tongue” and continues up the wall with a large screen embedded in it. This is coated in a finish that allows it to be used as a whiteboard, as do the coloured walls in the neighbouring rooms. Contemporary art and furniture is contrasted with traditional mounted taxidermy including a bear and stag head.
Each room is painted a different colour to reflect its use and create its own atmosphere, such as “energetic orange” in the stand-up room; turquoise in the brainstorming room; and yellow in concentration areas. For the large meeting room, Mentjens chose a black and white décor that is neutral and professional.
Concentration areas are decorated in yellow, while the blue of the meeting rooms aims to supports clear and productive thinking. For the large meeting room, Mentjens chose a black and white décor that is neutral and professional.
The top floor or ‘tree house’ holds the company’s relaxation area and bar. It is decorated various shades of green and adorned with plants, wooden furniture and skylights, creating the illusion of being outdoors.