Late last year, we faced a problem that brings many of our clients knocking on our door. We were bursting at the seams and it was not uncommon to see one or two people on laptops working at the kitchen bench at any given time. It was time to find a new home. This would be the client’s most important move yet, catapulting us into our next chapter of growth. This home also presented a real golden opportunity for the design team. Our previous office, a stunning heritage building with exposed ceilings and floors was almost easy to look impressive. But not all of our clients are so lucky and many need our help to make a typical commercial building shine. So, why not use our new home as a showcase to show our clients first-hand what we can really do in a commercial office to make it a welcoming environment. Our directors spent a lot of time trying to find the right space. It needed to be in the centre of the city, where most of our clients are located. It needed to be open and encourage collaboration and interaction between our interiors and architectural teams. It needed soul, a place the staff and our visitors wanted to spend time. When our directors first stepped out of the lift and into the lift lobby at 25 Bligh, it was like a sigh of relief. Amazing views over the city, a solid floor plan, and a blank canvas to work with – we knew we had found our new home. We decided early on that we wanted our office to feel like a boutique hotel lobby but we had inherited a very typical fitout. The existing tenancy had offices down one perimeter, blocking out half of the light and views, and built zones for kitchen, storage and comms rooms along the length, making it feel small and enclosed. The base building carpet and finishes, and the ceiling tile and grid made it feel like a commercial space, but was providing acoustic benefits we did not want to sacrifice.
We demolished all the built zones, save the entry point meeting rooms. This really opened up the floor plate, doubling the sense of space and increasing the access to light. We retained the rich brown timber flooring in the reception and extended it into the breakout space. We replaced the aging carpet with a vibrant mottled patterned carpet tile, which laid the foundation for our elegant palette. The very residential nature of the carpet became a very prominent and crucial feature in creating the intimate design intent. The walls and ceilings painted a deep dominant blue and ceiling tiles replaced with rich blue textured 3D acoustic panels, creating a cozy feel without sacrificing acoustics. Warm bronze paneling and crisp white stone joinery installed to add a contrast in tone to the space. All topped off with a vibrant fuchsia curtain, providing ultimate flexibility to zone off the work and lounge areas. We deliberately steered away from the more typical commercial furniture choices and sought more domestic style furniture, searching high and low for the right solution. Elegantly simple furniture and accessory choices added texture and layer to the space; utilizing soft velvets, tantalizing mustards, aubergines and leathers, black and white photography and graceful table lamps, really capturing the essence of the boutique hotel lobby feel. The end result? Our new home away from home manages to retain all the commercial requirements of an architectural office but not feel like one. The brave choice to remove all walls, install curtains to functionally divide the space and implement smart solutions for working environments means this space will serve us well for many years to come!