Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Reinventing an existing space for a leading luxury accessories brand

A leading luxury brand based in London were facing multiple challenges.  They were running out of space, their HQ did not do justice to their brand and their team’s workspaces were not laid out to allow for creativity, collaboration and productivity.

They called us in to reimagine the space on a modest budget, and to provide clever solutions to their space issues and save them a costly and time-consuming office move.

Fiona Livingston, co-founder of Studiofibre, explains the creative design approach:

Q - How do you go about ensuring stakeholders visiting the space are immersed in the brand from the moment they step through the door?

As a business grows organically, branding is often an element that gets overlooked.  The effective branding of a space goes far beyond any corporate colour or logo.  A space should bring the DNA of a brand to life and project its culture via clever design details, allowing visitors to the space, and those that work within it, to experience it and interact with it at every level.  With this particular brand, humour is a key element of its character.  We have taken this humour and woven it into design detailing, interior styling and the bespoke furniture we are creating.  Visitors and staff alike will experience the quirky and unique identity of this brand from the moment they enter the building, and which will continue to every corner of the space.

Brand immersion | Studiofibre for Farfetch HQ

Q - First impressions are crucial.  How do you ensure a positive and on-brand first impression for key stakeholders visiting the space?

As well as humour, this brand is characterised by its inclusivity, social nature and relaxed approached to style and luxury.  We decided to turn the reception area into a social hub for the company, which gives the area a buzzy yet, casual vibe.  The staff are the brand ambassadors who literally bring the space to life as they use it.  The antithesis to a formal, sterile reception area, this space is more like a concierge area:  an inspiring space that is the beating heart of the HQ and where all visitors are immediately welcomed into the brand’s community.  The design of the reception desk is also crucial.  It it the first thing a visitor sees and has to encapsulate the brand in one glance.  Every reception desk we create is totally bespoke - and creatively translates the essence of the brand in a highly memorable way.

First impressions | Studiofibre for NotOnTheHighStreet.com

Q - Social spaces are important - but so is privacy for the design teams, and customer service teams dealing with sensitive client data.  How does this work within what is essentially an open plan and collaborative space?

The key is to ensure that those teams that have to work behind closed doors are encouraged out of those spaces in order to reconnect with the rest of the teams as often as possible.  Making this work in practice is down to the careful planning of the flow of the space.  Its important to maximise the opportunities for people from different teams to bump into each other.  Research has proven that these sort of impromptu encounters often lead to productive, unplanned meetings which increase collaboration and productivity significantly.  This is achieved via the strategic planning of tea points, restaurant areas and other social and informal meeting spaces.  

Social spaces | Studiofibre for Farfetch Global Offices

Q - How else do you ‘future-proof’ a design scheme to allow for further changes within the business?

So often you see teams crammed in as a company grows, with little thought given to the bigger picture of productivity and staff morale.  Where people sit has a crucial impact on how people interact and therefore how productive they are.  We have a service called STUDIOFIBREdna, where the space available is analysed against the current and future needs of the business. We then use this extensive research and the data we gather to inform our design scheme as we plan adjacencies, flow, social and meeting spaces and storage requirements.

Its also important to plan flexible and multi-purpose spaces and social facilities which allow for future growth in headcount.  We have done this in past by taking design cues from stage sets, meaning that walls can be moved and spaces repurposed when required.

Q - Is it a harder job to reconfigure an existing space rather than designing a new space from scratch?

There are advantages and challenges to both routes.  In this case, the brand is lucky enough to be based within a building that is full of character.  Many beautiful details have been covered up over time, and we are now able to reveal the true character of the building, exposing elements such as original beams and fireplaces.  The chance to restore something to its former glory, whilst ensuring it meets the needs of a 21st Century workforce is an exciting prospect.  We are not only injecting the brand into the space, but also putting the original character back into the space along which has to work alongside the physical manifestation of the brand's essence, which makes for a rather unique and intriguing project.