After designing 18 Feet & Rising’s work desks, Studio Octopi were commissioned to work on the fit-out of their new 5,300sqft offices in central London.
Appointment to completion of the fit-out was only a period of two months which was quicker than the time it took to design and build the 18 Feet & Rising work desks. To achieve this timeframe the client transferred full creative control to Studio Octopi. Only a brief four words were issued by the client; emergence, vortex, action and illusion.
CEO, Jonathan Trimble stated “all final approval decisions were granted to Studio Octopi. 18 Feet would collaborate as equal creative partner but not as client.’ It was agreed that the project would emerge on site.
We identified three principle zones within the agency: work, socialise and pitch. Each zone was then supported by a secondary tier of: read, make and plan. The zones were defined by black stained plywood walls and woven vinyl flooring. These act as theatrical devices in function and appearance. As with theatre the design enhances the presence and immediacy of the experience.
The work desks were arranged within a cog form. On entering the agency, the end of the cog disappears out of view. It is difficult to perceive the space denoted as a work zone, there is an illusionary aspect to the design. Power and data was taken off the existing overhead supply and distributed to the desks throughout the low plywood walls. Break out spaces are scattered to the perimeter provide views across neighbouring buildings. To the inside of the cog, the kitchen opens onto a central café seating area. There is no reception; the café area fulfils this role.
Joining the two units is a small opening. Views through the opening reveal the tunnel, the entrance to the boardroom. Approaching the entrance to the tunnel reveals more theatrics. The tunnel walls and sloping soffit are lined in ply however the supporting timber structure is visible on the other side. The tunnel reduces in height and width over its 7m length. The strong light at the end of the tunnel picks out the plywood grain and woven vinyl flooring. Within the boardroom the plywood stained walls form a backdrop for the imposing views of the Post Office Tower.
The client embraced the temporary appearance of utilitarian construction materials. As London’s fastest growing independent ad agency, it’s likely the design will be replaced within a few years. On this basis the fit-out is surprising, a little unnerving, and in places whimsical.
“It’s just incredible what happens when people are set free. They did things we never could have imagined and probably would have never approved.” Jonathan Trimble.
Bolon makes London more creative
Bolon has now established a strong foothold in London with its unique, woven floor coverings. The popularity of this international design brand is particularly high among the media, advertising and other creative industries. Its floors are appreciated as a modern, innovative alternative, especially to textile floorings which are traditionally used in public spaces in the UK. Bolon's weaving technology brings a dynamic look and textile feel to its floors. They have excellent wear resistance and user-friendliness and offer architects tremendous creative scope to produce vibrant and innovative interiors. Studio Octopi, which is currently one of the top names among London's architecture firms, sees major potential in Bolon's collections. Its most recent project with Bolon is the office for advertising agency, 18 Feet and Rising, which is a spectacular setting with its ingenious simplicity.
"We are always on the look-out for original flooring for our projects. Textile, linoleum, rubber floors - most floors, in fact - are not architecturally expressive enough. They are too flat, too institutional, offer too few opportunities. Bolon, on the other hand, feels like tailor-made clothing. We have recommended Bolon to five advertising agencies so far and all of them have chosen Bolon – one strong reason being its proactive approach to customer-tailored solutions," explains Chris Romer-Lee, who is co-founder of Studio Octopi.
18 Feet and Rising is one of London's fastest growing and most talked-about advertising agencies. The company moved to new, larger office premises in 2011. Bolon was used as a central feature in the design of this space. Chris Romer-Lee says, "They needed a look that matched their creative business and enhanced the agency's unique position and portfolio".
The office on Clipstone Street is striking because of its original simplicity. Studio Octopi subdivided the agency using black stained spruce plywood. They created a variety of spaces within the open plan office, culminating in a striking tunnel leading to the meeting room. Specially-designed tile configuration from the Bolon Artisan collection highlight various areas in the agency. A parquet-style, diagonal motif contrasts with rotated full tiles. The Bolon Limited collection was used in the tunnel and meeting room. Chris Romer-Lee goes on to say, "When the light fell on the tiles, the effect was far more dramatic and vibrant than we could have hoped. We wanted to create a more direct response in the tunnel and meeting room and the elegant dark-brown Bolon harmonised fantastically with the stained plywood”. This project would not have been possible without the close collaboration between Bolon and Studio Octopi. "Bolon and its partner in the UK, Flooring Concept, have given us support and guidance all the way, from the first samples to the final product and installation. They opened our eyes to the possibilities afforded by simple, low-key colours and shades," says Chris Romer-Lee in conclusion.
Project: The advertising agency, 18 Feet and Rising
Collection: Bolon Artisan (Slate), Bolon Limited (Brown)
Area: 500 m2