align recently designed a new workspace for Eden McCallum, as the leading management consultancy sought to re-locate its existing team into a more flexible workspace, whilst remaining in a central location in London's west end. Having found a 6th floor space in Orion House on St Martin's Lane, minutes from both Covent Garden and Leicester Square underground stations, the company came to align to space-plan and design the new 6,000 sq ft footprint, following on from the successful working partnership developed when align designed the company's previous offices on Air Street. With many of the firm's senior partners and analysts spending a good proportion of the week out of the office, the brief to the design team was to create a workspace that combined fixed desking with more agile working practices, while also making it feel open and comfortable and creating a variety of productive working spaces.
"Eden McCallum's brand values and therefore its directive for its look and feel hadn't changed," Gurvinder Khurana, Director and Co-founder of align commented, "in that a quiet, understated and sophisticated environment was requested, with an interesting, human-scale and unregimented feel. What was different was the challenge of creating a more flexible and agile office within the new footprint, whilst incorporating all the variety of staff requirements - from team to group, semi-private and private working - and ensuring it still felt spacious."
The design team planned for the requisite number of fixed desks in the outer, window-lined area of the space for those who wanted a daily repeat station and then made the central area of the footprint completely open.
"It was important to give the new space a heart and so we opened up the central area and created a kitchen and dining space, together with a breakout area and touchdown space with one high table and one low - for working, eating and playing," Gurvinder added. "The client had really discovered how useful a breakout space was for internal company culture at its previous Air Street premises."
Creating a feeling of spaciousness meant maximizing light and breaking open the cellular aspect of the inherited office space, as well as being playful with color. The space-plan includes an open-plan office area, plus closed and open meeting spaces, solo working booths and private phone booths for discreet conversations with clients and consultants. These are particularly important because Eden McCallum's business model is all about offering its clients the very best independent consultants, with only one in ten applicants making the grade, meaning discreet and rigorous interviewing plays a major role in the hiring process.
Arrival at the premises brings visitors to a reception area, which doubles as both a welcome point and business lounge, where three two-tone blue Mango pods from Boss Design are located, so that any team member can use them for quiet, concentrated work. The welcome area features the company's branding against a painted petrol blue background to the left, along with a waiting/lounge area zone, featuring three Vitra chairs and a re-worked existing storage wall, with new white doors. The existing lobby space was reduced to allow for a one-person phone booth to go in too, built around a column for effective use of space. The scheme features three booths in total, all with sound-absorbing, round acoustic panels on the inside walls.
To the left of the arrival / welcome area, the circulation route leads to three enclosed meeting rooms, followed by a board room, as well as an open meeting area opposite for agile working, meetings or to eat and drink, located near a tea point. The open meeting area is a focal point of the scheme and features Osborne & Little 'Trailing Hummingbirds' wallpaper, a highly dynamic design that almost gives the impression of being a mural. The furniture here includes one Jensen booth seat from Verco, inherited from the previous office, alongside a brand-new matching seat, except that the two-tone fabric palette has been inverted for contrast. The booths are quite solid in feel and balance out the more feminine feel of the paper. Two huge-scale pendant lights with white shades from Albion Court hang directly above.
The meeting rooms' designs are kept simple, with single painted walls as highlights in pale grey, blue and purple. The glass doors and walls continue a theme from the previous office with bespoke manifestations by align, created anew for this office. "We developed more nature-based interpretations this time around, based on leaves, as there is less feature wallpaper here and so the manifestations also provide a soft feel for the rooms," Gurvinder Khurana explained. The board room, however, features a subtle new white and gold wallcovering - the Lounge Lux design by Engblad & Co.
Interest and segmentation are created in the open office area by a number of floor-to-ceiling hanging felt acoustic sliding panels with a striking fret-cut motif, in alternating aqua and teal panels, created by Edinburgh-based Friends of Wilson. Two are located just beyond the welcome desk, with three further panels beyond. Flooring in the general office area is a selection of four different carpet tiles from the Per Contra range by Milliken Carpets, along with a woven tile from Karndean.
The kitchen and breakout areas feature DooWop pendant lights from Louis Poulsen in varying shades of blue and white, plus a white and multi-tonal blue colourway throughout the space, with petrol and navy blue storage bordering the kitchen area, along with two colours of splashback blue tiling, matching both the DooWop lights and the Friends of Wilson screens.
"Sited just beyond the kitchen is a new, flexible, touchdown area, created for the first time for Eden McCallum, where the company's consultants can drop in easily to work," explained Gurvinder Khurana. There are two touchdown tables: one is a high-level Frovi and one a lower-level Frovi Relic table with an olive-green Fenix top with a fingerprint-repelling finish and a black base, so that it stays matt and clean. There are also booths located between the touchdown area and the hot desks, giving consultants and staff another private and discreet landing place. These are Haven seated wrap-around pods by Senator.
Photography: Adam Woodward