Tara Davies and Esther Kinnear Derungs set up their modelling agency Linden Staub in December 2015. They needed a specific workspace, with areas for computers as well as photoshoots and conversations. Eight months after Kontor helped them find their ideal space, we discover how they’ve settled in.
(To see a 360° walkthrough of Linden Staub’s space click on the top right pic!)
How are you finding your new workspace?
Tara: We love it! We use the space for everything. We even have family dinners in the evenings here. It’s just a great space for hanging out.
What were your priorities when searching for an office?
Esther: Natural light and space, lots of space as our photographers do shoots here. We wanted an office that could be compartmentalised because we need it to feel communal, but with defined areas. We didn’t want girls to walk in and have to sit with us at our computers while they wait. Our area is now split into a work area, a lounge area, a food/dining area and the studio that has a glass partition wall.
Tara: The models hang out here all the time, they keep food in the fridge or lounge on the sofa. If you have one model in it feels like 10, they have so much stuff, so it was important we had a comfortable area. Then we have studio area and can always shut the door if we need a private room.
Why did you decide to set up in Shoreditch?
Tara: We didn’t mind where we were in central London, but we’ve got girls coming in all the time, on their own or with families, so it had to be accessible. We looked at a workspace we really liked along the waterfront between Old Street and Angel, but we couldn’t imagine girls leaving the office at 5pm in the winter and walking in the dark.
This is our dream location; so convenient and such incredible buildings. Plus, the majority of our clients are based in east London nowadays, so this location makes the most sense.
How important was finding the right workspace to suit your brand?
Esther: Very important, its advertising for our brand. If a girl visits a shoddy office with her family, they’re not going to think we’re a very good agency.
The whole message of our brand focuses on empowerment of women, so we needed to reflect that. For example, we’ve never worked anywhere with a dining area before, but we’re firm believers that it’s not healthy to eat at your desk. Now at least once a week we all sit together, chatting, flicking through magazines. We meet girls at such a young age that we had to have a space to bring them to that is homely, that has a family atmosphere while remaining professional.
Have you had good feedback from employees?
Tara: They love the space. If you work somewhere and you’re proud of your workspace, that’s going to be uplifting and you’ll be more productive.
Were you looking for flexible space?
Esther: We didn’t realise when we starting looking that we’d need to sign a lease for several years, so we had to find a space that was a bit flexible. We did look at some co-working spaces such as WeWork, which didn’t suit us but made us realise we needed to be able to use space in different ways, have places to interact with each other.
Did you have any knowledge of the property market before looking?
Tara: Not a clue! We told Kontor that from that beginning and the team were brilliant. They showed us exactly the spaces we were after – before, other agents had shown us a load of basements, even though we said we needed natural light. They didn’t seem to take us seriously as a new, young modelling agency. Kontor were able to show us this place before it even came to market and the costs came in below budget.
Do you think you’ll stay here a while?
Esther: When our lease is due to finish here will probably be the perfect time to reconsider what we need. If we do need more space it will be an upgrade, the same vibe but larger. We love the aesthetic here – we’re supposed to return it to its original condition at the end of the lease, but the landlord loves what we’ve done so much he’s said we’ve added value!