Esprit de Corps - a workplace that spells contemporary and comfortable
The communications group Cossette recently underwent a rebranding exercise, involving both a name change - to Esprit de Corps - and a dynamic new headquarters in central London. Designed by Edge Architecture + Design, the main challenge was creating a central staircase to open up the space and link both floors together, (rather cleverly, the steps are wide enough to accommodate informal meeting areas too).
The interior design brief essentially involved housing the various agencies within the group - namely, advertising agency MCBD, design and branding company Identica, digital agency Dare, direct marketing specialist Elvis and PR agencies Brando and Band & Brown - under one roof. The former John Lewis office building's H-shaped layout, helped give each firm its own space within the office perimeter.
Flooring Concepts was given the brief for an "edgy" floor finish. Alarge section of the office features exposed raised access flooring metal tiles which, while looking rather cool, didn't have sufficient acoustic properties. Bolon therefore made an excellent choice; with the best environmental Botanic collection selected - both for the plain tiles on the floor and sheet on the ceiling throughout the office space.
This involved approximately 800m2 of Botanic cillia - a very natural colourway, and the striped Botanic Lotus carpet for the walkways and corridors, which helps signal the office's natural circulation route, and contrasts with the haphazardly arranged desks. Launched in 2010 - Bolon Botanic is already a significant collection, as it incorporates a revolutionary new plasticizer made from modified vegetable oil.
The designers aimed to challenge the perception of a typical "meeja" office - although couldnt resist certain fun elements, including picnic tables, astroturf and a ping pong table. The upper level features a snug space filled with Chesterfield sofas, easy chairs and task seating and pouffes - embodying the desired boutique agency effect, while acting as a counterbalance to the more corporate office elements.
Besides blurring the brand barriers, the traditional workplace hierarchy has also been challenged; there are no management offices and almost everyone has a seat near a window. "There's a lot of neutrality and the space feels like it hasn't been over designed" says Rachael Cadey, Managing Director of Edge Architecture + Design. The aesthetic has been dubbed "new urban", contrasting the rough with the smooth... the vintage with the contemporary.
The result has seen the transformation of a standard corporate office into a stimulating environment for a multi-disciplinary agency of the 21st century.
Photography: Thierry Cardineau