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Plastic Pictures talk to us about finding their perfect creative space in Aldgate

From its London base, Plastic Pictures creates films, photography and animations for some of the world’s most well-known brands. Its long list of clients include the likes of Amazon, Unilver, BT and Thomas Cook.

With this impressive roster of customers, it was essential that the team found a new office that visitors would enjoy spending time in. Kontor helped Plastic Pictures to find its ideal workspace in Aldgate East. Sara Cooper tells us about the search in their colour changing space.

What is the best thing about having found your ideal workspace?
It’s given us breathing space, the headspace to be creative. Before, we felt boxed in. It’s open plan, all on one level which allows us to collaborate in an efficient way. It has also given us room to grow, which is really exciting. We’re 18 people now and we have 28 desks in total. If we need to add to the team or bring in freelancers, we have space to do so.

Where was the company based before this?
Well! When we started almost eight years ago, we worked from a summer house that I built in my garden. There were three of us and we didn’t want to take out a business loan or sign for
commercial space too quickly.

It was a lovely place to work and quite large really! But over the next 24 months, we got so busy that we had eight people working there, which was quite crowded. When clients started asking for meetings we took them to Soho House, but we realised that we needed to bite the bullet and find space of our own.

Our first lease was a 1,000 sq ft old stable house in Camden. It was basically two up, two down house so we converted the downstairs to an open plan space and had studios upstairs. This was great for five years when we reached ten or 11 employees. We weren’t overcommitted with rent and it worked well.

Why did you decide to move?
Things ramped up even more after that and space got tighter as we added more desks. We looked ahead and realised that we if we were going to grow as a company we needed the space to grow with us.

That’s when we found Kontor. I was initially attracted to Kontor’s branding and how dynamic the company looked. I like that it was a small team as I felt as though they’d really get what we needed – and they did. They showed us a range of properties, some out of our league but we loved seeing what else was out there to aspire to.

How did you find the search for the right space?
There definitely aren’t as many suitable workspaces as you’d think and prices have shot up over the years. That’s why we needed to use Kontor. They showed us spaces that we wouldn’t have been able to find online.

Kontor were also really valuable during contract negotiations – helping us find the property was the easy part really. They successfully helped us get a good contract and Jack was heavily involved in smoothing out so many details between the landlord and building management. This part of the service really made me feel it was worth working with Kontor.

Why did you choose this workspace?
It’s in a great, central location – Aldgate is a quick journey for all our employees from around London. It’s surprisingly quiet though as we’re down a quiet street. As soon as we walked in, we knew we could build the two editing suites we needed as well as have the open plan space. It was a blank canvas. As it’s an industrial warehouse space we were drawn to the light we get from taking an entire floor. It has period features but has all the modern factors we need such as fibre internet.

How are you finding the space now you’re in?
Our clients really enjoy coming here. International clients who base themselves in clubs like Shoreditch House or Soho House while they’re in London love walking across and hanging out here. Our team loves the space too! That’s why we wanted to build a large communal area, with a kitchen and enough seating for everyone to enjoy. People can get away from their desks to eat lunch or sit in the leather chairs to chat about a project. It was very important to us to create a creative space away from computers.

We’ve spent quite a lot on plants and hanging baskets to create a relaxing atmosphere. We have
vines growing up the columns that will eventually reach the ceiling. We wanted to bring a freshness to what is quite an urban, dense area of the city.

Do you have plans to grow into the space over the next few years?
Absolutely. We wanted to move into a space that we knew would suit us for several years. It might be a bit big now, but it’s an investment in our future.

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From the design of art galleries around the world and inspiring open offices, architect firm Matheson Whiteley has quite a roster of projects under its belt. Donald Matheson and Jason Whiteley launched their practice in 2012 and have already created a leading brand.

Donald Matheson talks to us about marrying the old with the new, what will influence tomorrow’s workspaces and why collaboration will lead the building industry to new heights.

What is the focus of Matheson Whiteley?
A lot of our interests come from Jason and my combined experience, our training as young architects. We met at Herzog & de Meuron, working on projects such as the extension to the Tate Modern. Herzog & de Meuron is one of architecture’s leading design voices and they gave us a sense of what we could achieve. They don’t have a house style as such; their work is a response to the realities of a project and brief.

We have adopted the same focus at Matheson Whiteley. We listen to clients and try to bring a sense of professionalism, keeping in mind the realities posed by cost and design limitations without letting them bring the project down. Instead, we use limitations to introduce a quality that a client might not have developed themselves.

Who are your clients?
We’ve been working with some great clients in largely three areas. Firstly, we were lucky early on to get involved in workplace design. In 2013 we worked with Ogilvy & Mather to design their new workspace at Sea Containers House for ten media companies, which was a big project for us. It was a collaboration with BDG the workplace specialists.

The client was up for something really architectural and permanent, to create an exciting space. The collaboration with BDG worked very well, it meant that while they focused on requirements such as the briefing and space planning and we could focus on the design and detail of the architectural interventions.

The second area is our work in the arts, with galleries and artists, influenced by my experience working at Tony Fretton Architects, while the third is residential. People often approach us with their projects following a commercial project.

How has the architecture of workspaces changed since you became an architect?
Compared to a few years ago, clients today are far more interested in architecture in its purest from. They want to create buildings with permanence rather than introduce a lightweight design. There is a real attraction to reusing the great qualities that already exist in a building.

Take the recent project we did for the branding agency North in Clerkenwell. They took on a long, tall room as their workspace and wanted to keep the sense of openness that it provided. They really challenged themselves in terms of their space requirements and decided not to have any enclosed meeting rooms. It’s a project with no doors – one space flows into another with simple, architectural space dividers. Projects such as this rely on a client taking a leap of faith that the design will work in practice.

Are other types of buildings impacting workspace design?
Absolutely. People are finding other places to work, rather than behind a desk and a computer, such as restaurants and cafes. We’ve introduced influences from these into workspaces, for example creating more open spaces at Sea Containers Houses, with has been very welcome and successful.

Clients in the creative industry put a lot of emphasis on creating a relaxed environment that stimulates people as a means to attract employees. Spaces are taking on different uses all the time. Ogilvy & Mather introduced a particularly wide staircase, for example, which has come to act as an auditorium for presentations, relaxed meetings and so on. These types of social activities are proven to be extremely valuable in how we exchange ideas.

What are you currently working on?
Quite a variety of projects. We recently won a competition to design a ground floor showroom for Alexander McQueen’s new headquarters in Clerkenwell. This gallery space will be a backdrop for all the brand’s work.

We’ve recently completed a great project on Haymarket in the West End to give a 1960s building a new lease of life. It was more about removing the additions of the last few decades, stripping it back to show the quality of the building beneath.

We’re also working on a project for an art gallery in Stuttgart to create a café space that will appeal to the people locally and bring them closer to the work of the gallery. We’re looking at what really lies behind the success of classic European cafes, how what is often an unplanned atmosphere can attract people to a space.

Is there a building or area of London that particularly inspires you?
The stretch of Regent’s Canal leading from the bottom of Kingsland Road in Hackney towards Victoria Park. There is such a combination of businesses, people and life all knitted together.

It’s amazing how London’s waterways have evolved and endured since they were created. The canals were built for industry. Today the buildings alongside them often house manufacturing alongside people working. Manufacturing still depends on the creativity and skill that talented people can bring. How can we humanise very large buildings and make them pleasant places to work that benefit the community? This is forming an interesting project that Jason and I now teach at Kingston School of Art.

What do you see for the future of workplace design?
The focus on human beings will continue. Design will be about how a workspace supports the balance between working and doing what makes us happy. Spaces will be more stripped back and robust, to create new uses.

These trends will be supported more and more by technology, which is really exciting. For example, in the new Tate Modern there is a highly intelligent distribution of power and lighting to give the performance spaces real flexibility. This is great in a cultural space and I can’t see why this won’t translate into workspaces.

The White Collar Factory is another great example of technology. The designers have reduced energy consumption through a state-of-the-art cooling system. This was made possible through collaboration between different elements of the building industry, and we’ll see more of this in the future. Engineers are becoming much more involved with designers and they are learning from each other’s expertise. This is what it takes to make projects such as this happen.

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Connect Ventures talk to us about finding the perfect space to reflect their brand

For Connect Ventures, finding the right workspace was crucial. The venture capital firm has invested in some of Europe’s most dynamic growing companies, including CityMapper, Boiler Room, mobile and web prototyping platform Marvel and coffee brand Pact to name a few.

With a busy schedule of new companies and entrepreneurs to meet, it was vital for the team to have a welcoming space for holding meetings. While other businesses might be focused on space for desks, to Connect Ventures it was more important to create a space that reflects their brand.

The team moved into their office in Shoreditch 18 months ago, aided in their search by Kontor. Connect Venture’s managing partner Sitar Teli explains why finding the right space was essential.

What was your number one priority when searching for your own workspace?
Location. It was critical for us to be in East London, close to Old Street station. This was vital because we wanted to be in the heart of the start-up community.

Here, we’re close to Google Campus, Runway East and other co-working properties in the area. We’re surrounded by the companies and people that we have backed and might be interested in backing. This is absolutely the perfect location for us.

How important was the look and feel of the office?
We were certainly after a particular look to the office, such as a wooden floor, brick walls. It feels much more like a start-up office. This reflects the types of businesses we’re meeting every day.

We also needed the space to be relatively big. Although we were only a team of four at the time, five now, we needed at least three meetings rooms. Space that could be used for events was also important, so the office needed to be larger than otherwise.

How did the search go?
Working with a company such as Kontor was critical for us throughout the search as we’re a small team. A couple of our portfolio companies had worked with Kontor so they came highly recommended.

The team Kontor were great. Every set of details they sent us about properties fitted our requirements. They also proactively highlighted aspects that we should look at, such as the fact that it was slightly above budget but might be worth it for a certain reason. Or we should consider this space for a specific feature.

Did you need to change much to make the office how you wanted it?
An important part of our criteria was the ability to make the space our own. In fact, when we first took this space it was just a bare shell.

Kontor recommended a fit-out company, ThirdWay Interiors, and they were great. We worked closely with them on the whole design so that it became a comfortable space that reflected our brand.

What advice would you give another firm looking for a permanent workspace?
Use someone like Kontor for sure. When you take into account the amount of time we saved, as well as Kontor’s ability to get us in to view spaces that weren’t even on the market yet, there’s no question that working with the team was worth it.

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Workspace of the week

De Beauvoir Block – a space that helps solve the growing demands from London’s creative industries

Benyon Estate’s De Beauvoir Block is bringing a whole new cross-section of the creative industry to De Beauvoir Town. The scheme totals 30,000 sq ft and provides light and airy workspaces that range in size from 300 sq ft to 2,500 sq ft. Central to the scheme is the private café, which gives occupants a relaxed, informal extra place to sit and work.

The development firm worked with Shoreditch architect Henley Halebrown to create the property which is almost fully let even though it only opened in July. The only spaces left are a few units offering up to 24 desks.

Benyon’s commercial manager Josh Summers talks to Kontor about plans for the scheme and growing demands from London’s creative industries.

What was your initial plan when you first started developing the property?
Specifically, the aim of De Beauvoir Block is to bring the creative industries together. Current tenants are immersed in industries such as fashion, PR, photography and so on, who were all looking for an attractive, well-priced workspace.

We were very conscious that we wanted this development to be commercial only rather than residential. Although there are amazing pubs, cafes and so on, De Beauvoir Town needed something to bring more people to the area. Few people have really heard of it yet so this is a way to make it more of a destination.

How did your plans evolve as the scheme grew?
Initially, there wasn’t a café/desk area in the plan. As we were carrying out development we realised that it was integral to have a central hub for tenants.

One main reason for this is because as we visited a lot of offices as research, we saw that people often used half their space to create a comfortable space to relax in and crammed their desks into the other half. We realised that if we offer a café for tenants then they can dedicate more of their own space to desks. It adds flexibility that people don’t get elsewhere.

Why did you decide to create a building with multiple workspaces rather than one large office?
We knew there was huge demand for this type of space, offices of varying sizes that accommodate growing businesses. We designed the building so we could offer larger offices of 2,500 sq ft, as well as units of 1,500-2000 sq ft, others of 1,000 – 1,500 sq ft and then 13 smaller units on the top floor of about 300 sq ft which are aimed at startups.

The whole model is designed so a tenant can take a desk, move to a smaller office and then grow into the larger spaces as they come available. It’s almost an entire self-contained offering for companies as they scale. The largest demand so far has been for spaces of 300 sq ft.

Why have current tenants chosen to locate here?
The main feedback we’ve had so far is that people think elsewhere in London they could pay twice as much for an office that just isn’t as well designed.

What other benefits are there to being in a managed workspace?
We have a shared meeting room which is proving very popular. Lots of people book it out for the day to entertain clients. Even if a business has a small office, they can take a client to the café then into a booked meeting space and generally sell themselves much more effectively than if they only had their own small, private office.

Do you believe buildings such as De Beauvoir Block are the future of London’s office market?
Absolutely. For example, we now see that having a café or space to relax is integral in a large office block. The idea has really taken off. We’re shying away from opening the café to the public to try to make a profit, as we want it to be a factor that appeals to tenants. There is enough buzz in De Beauvoir Town as new cafes and pubs open as it is.

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Workspace of the week

Arhitekt 11 transform former factory into workspace for Estonian media company Äripäev

For Arhitekt 11, the inspiration for planning the Äripäev office was the very special factory building built at the beginning of the 20th century. Äripäev is Estonia’s most famous and largest business newspaper, radio and publishing company and needed to transform the space into an open office for 280 employees. The chosen space, Luther’s Machine Room, is a former Luther plywood manufacturing plant, one of the largest industrial buildings in the Baltic States from that time.

A modern, open-plan office for 280 people has been created in this historic space with activity-based working principles. The working landscape is on the outer perimeter of the space, moving to the centre there are open and closed meeting rooms and in the centre is a public space with a library and work-cafe. Existing materials like limestone walls and concrete posts, beams, and ceilings have been preserved and cleaned. In order to exhibit the unique constructions of the building, there is a small atrium between the ground floor and the main floor, from where a whole constructive post can be seen from top to bottom.

Inspired by the birch veneer produced in Luther’s factory in the first half of the 20th century, plywood boards are used as a finishing material for the meeting rooms which are stand-alone objects inside the space. Inner streets form between the objects, where the light from the top and the trees create an outdoorsy feel. The biggest challenge was to achieve the acoustics needed for working. Since there are not enough wall surfaces, all closed ceilings are covered with acoustic wool boards. There are also many acoustic materials used in the furniture – the screens on tables, the backs of cabinets, telephone chairs. Acoustic measuring and feedback from employees of Äripäev are proof that the results are satisfying.

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Kontor x Fred Rigby: Announcing the Kontor Desk collection

Kontor, in collaboration with London based designer Fred Rigby, are pleased to announce the launch of the Kontor Desk collection.

Driven by demand from our clients and a gap in the market for a well designed, affordable, modular and fully customisable product we set out to create the Kontor Desk.

Perfect for startups, scaleups and design focused workspaces.

From a single desk to a bank of your choice, being modular allows for greater flexibility to easily scale numbers up and down and take with you when you move, saving money and reducing waste.

Pick the design, the colour and material of the top, the colour of the klamps and type of wood. Allowing you to customise the Kontor Desk to your design aesthetic and brand colours.

The collection is importantly both designed and manufactured in London, delivered in under two weeks and made out of solid FSC sustainable wood.

Prices start from £300 a desk

The Kontor Desk collection also includes storage solutions and meeting room tables.

contact@kontor.space for sales or if you have a specific requirement. For further information please see our design pack here.

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90Min & Minute Media talk to Kontor about finding their perfect space

90min’s new office absolutely wins on location: overlooking Liverpool Street Station, it’s seconds from the underground and a short walk from Spitalfields, Shoreditch and the City. It is also in a listed building – go back a few years and you might be surprised to find such a forward thinking digital publishing company replete with film studio in such a location.

90min is a global football media and technology company, which produces content to be distributed across social media channels. With 60m monthly users across web, mobile and social, the company is expanding fast.

Kontor helped 90min to find their first own workspace this year. The search was certainly not quick and grew more complicated as the team continued to expand. We chat to Duncan McMonagle, SVP Partnerships, and Kata Wielgus who headed up the search.

90min is part of Minute Media, which started in Tel Aviv – where else does 90min have offices?
Duncan: Tel Aviv is our spiritual home. We have about 35 people in New York, three or four in Singapore, a studio in Manila and remote people around the world, working in specific cities such as Los Angeles and Tokyo. That’s a lot of time zones – no one sleeps!

How long has the brand been operating in London?
Duncan: About three years now. We started as two or three people in a borrowed office in Soho, grew to 12 people in the first year and within 18 months were searching for an office space.

We looked in Soho initially, but the problem was that by the time we found a space we liked, we were outbid, by which point the team had grown and we had to start the search again. By the time we were 30 people, an office in Soho was just too expensive.

While looking, we took an office in WeWork Chancery Lane. Initially, this was for 16 people, but we grew so fast we got three more offices, one for people, one for a studio and one for content work. It didn’t work very well being spread out in different offices – you couldn’t really chat.

So, room to grow was a number one priority for your office search?
Kata: Absolutely. We’re 36 people here now and we’ve got space to add more.

Duncan: We’ve just done our 2018 planning and we expect to add another ten or 15 people by the end of next year.

What other priorities did you have?
Kata: Proximity to a station – even five minutes was too far. Here we’re above an entrance to Liverpool Street which is great.

Duncan: I wanted a space that would allow me to throw a ball from my desk at anyone in the company – it doesn’t happen often, but the option is there!

What about location – you initially wanted Soho but you ended up near Liverpool Street?
Duncan: There’s always a trade-off – could we find a cool space in a handy location that we could afford? We did want Soho as we’re a start-up media business, but WeWork in Chancery Lane was handy. We found that area wasn’t as dynamic as we wanted, which is why we went further east. Here, the area is really buzzing.

What was the space like when you arrived?
Kata: It was a blank canvas, we’ve made it our own. Now we have glass fronted meetings rooms, the soundproof studio, a great kitchen area, our own art and branding on the walls. We used our in-house designers – they came up with some bold ideas that I had to process somehow!

Duncan: It was a collaborative project really, the whole company contributed. Kata and the designers created the vision, but members from each department gave their insights.

How has the workspace impacted the team?
Kata: It’s made a huge improvement to everyone’s morale. People have lunch together at the long table, we squeeze on! Everyone’s relaxed and talks more, which boosts productivity.

Duncan: WeWork was great but it wasn’t home. We wanted a place where we could hang our own pictures, establish our own culture. This is perfect. The pool table in the middle has been a particular success. I didn’t know if people would use it, but everyone does.

How did you find the office search?
Kata: Much easier with Kontor’s help. I met with other property companies, but Kontor is different – they’re diligent, they really know the market and understood our brief. Jack was very patient; he didn’t try to push us into any inappropriate properties. It made a difference that he really got to know what we do as a company and showed us what we were looking for.

Did you encounter any problems?
Kata: Only to do with fit out! We decided we wanted two freestanding phone booths for calls. We ordered them from Hong Kong, waited three months for them to arrive and then, because we’re in a listed building with no cargo lift, we couldn’t get them up the stairs!

Duncan: It was such a shame. They were even in 90min bright orange!

Do you have any advice for another fast-growing company looking for an office?
Kata: The number of desks you can fit in is the most important thing. Go for the biggest size you can. Also, the more specific you can make the brief the better – but you have to know where to compromise.

Duncan: We started out wanting brick walls and a concrete floor – I think this floor is vinyl and the walls are white! You need to realise what you can do to make it work. This place absolutely ticks the boxes for location, convenience and size.

Now you’re here, what’s next for 90min?
Duncan: Global domination! We started out wanting to be the biggest digital publisher in the football world, we’ve done that and now we’re aiming to be the biggest in sport. Next year we’ll extend beyond that further. We’ve got a platform that really gives people a voice and we want to open it up.

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Workspace of the week

ODOS Architects designs Slack’s new London HQ

A row of skylights offering extensive views of London’s skyline influenced ODOS Architects’ design for Slack’s first UK offices, the creator of the workplace messaging system by the same name. Slack’s London office is located on the top two floors of the former BBC Radio 1 broadcasting building on Great Portland Street, and is the company’s second European base.

The San Francisco-based company opened its first European office in Dublin in 2015, but relocated to a bigger space earlier this year in the capital. ODOS Architects, which has offices in London, Dublin and New York, also designed this space for the company.

For Slack’s new offices, which span 540 square metres, the architects chose a largely monochrome colour palette that reflects the company’s desired aesthetic: “mature and timeless”.

An pale oiled oak floor laid in a herringbone pattern is offset by black-stained timber and dark leather upholstery. Planting set between rows of rooflights spills from the upper to lower floors, adding an accent of colour to the workspace.

The rooflights are surrounded by protruding black frames that offer seating nooks offering office workers views of the London skyline, and form what the architects call “eyes to the city”. “We lined the portals so as to reflect and extend the view of the London rooftop horizon and capture the movement of passing clouds, planes and the city’s birdlife,” explained the architects.

“This intervention as with many others in the space serves to create inspiring work spaces and opportunities for social interaction.”

In contrast to the brightly and naturally lit offices, an ominous black corridor is illuminated by harsh strip lighting arranged to create a gridded pattern.

“This is a space of contrasts,” said architects. “An all-black and highly reflective gallery space with perimeter light bands serves to create a space with a somewhat otherworldly quality and one which contrasts and compliments the brighter spaces at either end.”

Slack branding is kept minimal, with one company logo lettered in a semi-transparent grey by a skylight, and another in solid white on the reception. Launched in 2013 by Flikr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, Slack was set up to offer a digital workspace where employees can communicate with each other. The company has seen a rapid expansion, with new offices opening in Manhattan and Dublin this year, in addition to London.

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We talk to Geckoboard co-founder Paul Joyce

The office of tech company Geckoboard oozes Shoreditch cool. Its huge windows mean the top floor space is light and airy, with a design-led fit out that makes it a space that you just want to hang out in. It’s an ideal space for a growing company like Geckoboard, which provides an online dashboard displaying a business’s key metrics in real time.

Kontor helped Geckoboard to find the space earlier this year, which is sub-let from food brand Hello Fresh. We talk to CEO and Co-founder Paul Joyce about his search for the perfect office.

What’s the background to Geckoboard?
I had the idea for the business in March 2010 while I was working in financial tech. I initially started the business in my spare room, but soon I was spending so much time on it that I left my job and started to run the business full time.

In October 2011 I took three desks in a shared space. We were there for six months until I closed a funding round and we found our first own space.

In 2015 we doubled staff numbers, added more in 2016 and will add more in 2017. Now we’re close to 40 people; we had three job offers accepted this week so we’re growing fast. Most of the team work in London, but we have remote staff members all over the world to provide support, for example in Mumbai, Seattle, Hawaii.

Why did you start looking for a new office last year?
We were outgrowing our office, although we had also taken the office next door. We had already reduced desk sizes to make better use of the existing space – they were big to begin with though!

It was also a very cheap office; it was a badly maintained block, leaking ceiling, mice, security problems. It was perfect for what we needed when we took it, but the company had matured and we wanted an office that reflected that. We don’t have clients come to visit so that wasn’t a priority, but we wanted a space that was comfortable for employees.

My business philosophy is not to spend money that we can’t afford, but we have grown revenues to the point that we could afford a better office.

What were your main criteria for a new office?
We needed room to grow even more. We didn’t want to feel cramped again quickly.

The other pinch point was that we needed more meeting space. Before, we only had one meeting room. Here, we have three great meeting rooms and also access to the theatre and spaces in the rest of the building.

We didn’t want to change the location of the office. People come to work from all over the place and they’d signed up to travel to this area. It’s also a great area to be in.

Sub-letting from another company is a cross between a managed space and your own lease; what were you looking for?
We were open minded about the type of lease, but wanted to commit to at least three years. It gives us the ability to plan our future without the worry of having to move again, but it’s not too long as we know we’re going to grow. We can fit more people in here easily so it’ll be ideal for a while yet.

Hello Fresh organise a lot of the maintenance and so on, so it’s almost a managed space, but we brought our own furniture to make it our own.

Why did you speak to Kontor?
It’s daunting finding a new place, particularly if it’s not your core competency. It made sense for us to partner with someone who knows the lie of the land.

With Kontor we had an initial consultation about what we were looking for, such as area, type of space, and Jack came up with a list of proposals. We were looking in an area that stretched from Liverpool Street to Clerkenwell and Kings Cross, so we looked at more than a dozen places in two days. They were great at showing different options.

Why did you choose this space?
As soon as we came out of the lift, I said “sold”. This is it. It’s so light, it’s comfortable, there’s room to grow and excellent meeting rooms that we sound-proofed ourselves.

Finding the right space is important for recruitment. If you want people to spend time in the office it has to be a comfortable environment. We’ve never been a battery farm aiming to get the most out of people, but we want people to enjoy being here.

Now you’re settled in your new space, what’s ahead for Geckoboard?
We grow when there’s revenue to grow, which is fast at the moment, so we’re only going to get bigger and more established.

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CaSA showcases cost-effective office design

A hammock suspended in midair and tables with integrated storage systems are some of the space-saving details that Colombo and Serboli Architecture have added inside this series of low-budget community co-working spaces in Barcelona.

Colombo and Serboli Architecture, also known as CaSA, was asked to transform five unused commercial properties in Baró de Viver, an area of the Spanish city with a high rate of unemployment. The aim was to create workspaces for local entrepreneurs. The budget was very tight, so the architects developed a series of versatile furniture designs able to suit various activities.

“We had to translate the laudable target of the initiative into space, transforming five never-used, neglected, bricked and empty premises on the ground floor of social-housing blocks into attractive, vibrant workspaces where small companies would want to set up their offices,” said the team.

“The project had to make the most of the spaces, give visibility of the co-working to the neighbourhood, communicate openness, and keep content safe in an area with security problems.”

Two of the five spaces are positioned next to one another, so were joined together. This created enough extra space to provide a kitchen, but not enough for a lounge space – so CaSA instead decided to make one that was raised up in the air. They built a simple steel frame and wrapped netting over it, creating an elevated hammock. It is accessed via a simple staircase, made by folding up a single sheet of perforated metal.

“One can contemplate the trees outside whilst hanging there,” said the team.

Each of the workspaces has its own distinctive colour, which is applied around the base of the walls, and also features on round acoustic panels that hang from the ceilings. This helps to give each all five spaces their own identity, but also ties them together. Work surfaces are provided by trapezoid-shaped (as well as rectangular) tables, designed to suit different configurations. These feature gridded metal backdrops, so people can attach papers and plants to them, but they don’t block views.

Modular LED lighting systems attach to the legs of these desks, and can adjusted to face in different directions. These are joined by chairs and small tables provided by furniture brand Kettal, including the Jasper Morrison-designed Village chairs.

Other details were kept as they were, including the concrete columns and exposed ceilings – although mesh shutters were added for security.

Called Sinèrgics, the spaces are now used for a variety of different occupations, from bicycle repair to textile design.

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