align creates sophisticated, grown-up workplace scheme for Eden McCallum in London’s west end Following their multi-award-winning office project forBrandOpus andtheir colourful Tech City scheme for scientific-info rising stars Mendeley, workplace specialists alignhave now completed a very different style of project for Eden McCallum. The new scheme responds to a brief to designa ‘quiet, understated and sophisticated’environment, which would serve as the new London HQ for these leading management consultants.
‘After the exuberance of our last two workplace schemes, it was really interesting to engage with such a contrasting brief’, commentedalign Director and Co-founder Gurvinder Khurana. ‘The challenge was to create a suite of offices that were full of subtle statements and which met the requirement for a ‘fresh, interesting, human-scale and unregimented’ space.
The Client: Eden McCallum is a highly-successful and pioneering management consultancy firm, formed in 2000 by Founding Partners Liann Eden and Dena McCallum, with offices in London, Amsterdam and Zürich. Clients include a third of the FTSE 100; a third of the world’s largest private equity firms and 50 of the global Fortune 500 companies. Formerly based in offices in Kensington Church Street, the move to the new space represents a launchpad for the next stage of Eden McCallum’s corporate development.
The Space: The location for the new offices is a 8,715 sq ft single-storey space on 5th floor of a newly-redeveloped Crown Estates building, facing onto Air Street (where entrance is located) and Glasshouse Street - just minutes from Piccadilly Circus. The premises benefit from great natural light, with windows the full length of both sides, plus a sympathetic base-build delivered bythe landlord’s architects, featuring limed oak and good quality architectural lighting.
Space-planning: Unlocking the challenge to create an unregimented workspace that worked at human-scale was all about space-planning and especially the creation of a range of different-sized meeting rooms, each with its own subtly-different design treatment. The space-plan also includesan open-plan office area with integrated meeting zones, break-out spaces and private phone booth areas for discreet conversations with clients and consultants. These are particularly important becauseEden McCallum’s business modelis all about offering 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.
Design concept: Overall, the scheme features a deliberate and considered choice of materials, balancing a respect for the base build detailing with the integration of the client’s needs for a human, sophisticated and warm spatial experience.
‘The new scheme begins with simplicity and calm’, Gurvinder Khurana explained, ‘via a neutral, off-white base palette. Interest is added by subtle interjections of texture and colour in a range of pale, oceanic blues and greens, as well as a wall of individual feature wallpaper in most of the meeting rooms, especially the smaller ones,along with some great furniturefrom Vitra, Eames and the Bourellec Brothers, quirky accessories and the odd touch of vintage. The flow of varied-size meeting spaces, arranged around two-thirds of the perimeter, prevents the overall environment from any feeling of regimentation.’
‘Gurvinder was great and we really trusted her opinion on what would work,’ Liann Eden, Founding Partner, Eden McCallum commented. ‘I appreciated that she was so thoughtful about every aspect of the design and able to articulate to non-designers how elements of the design on paper would translate into the feel of the new workspace when built.’
Design Walk-through: The lift delivers visitors to the offices directly into reception, where a bespoke Corian desk, with Eden McCallum branding set into the front in antiqued bronze lettering, gives the immediate
impression of a company that is solid and established, yet contemporary. The reception desk chairs are from Interstuhl,with the same task chair also used throughout the general open-plan office. The backdrop to the desk is a wall of white, semi-transparent panel blinds (in Silent Bliss fabric, Colorama 2), whilst, to the left, a smoked oak feature wall has thin, inset bronze strips, adding warmth, linking to the bronze reception desk lettering and also subtly referencingthe antique bronze that visitors have first seen in the building’s downstairs reception. A visitor seating area is comprised of four ‘stone’ leather Nubaseats from Stua, arranged around a set of white Eclipse nesting tables of varied sizes, also from Stua. A hint of a domestic vernacular is given by a wooden standard lamp, made by a Cornwall-based British maker. A dark blue rug is used for the seating area - ‘Night Sky’ Silky Seal (from Chroma) –to add softness and colour.
Overall in the scheme, the flooring is a considered mix of finishes and styles, which are used to demarcate different zones and includewoven grey vinyl from Bolon for the meeting area circulation corridor, plusa sophisticated, darker-patterned carpet by Shaw Contract for the meeting rooms. The open plan general office space is laid with Shaw’sJazz carpet tile, which helps maintain a sense of fluidity in the main open plan area.
The meeting area, which takes up around half of the overall space, is made up of a 6-person meeting room to each side of reception, plus a series of further rooms immediately beyond on the southern side of the space, including an 8-person meeting immediately beyond, as the suite of rooms curves along the corridor. The sweeping geometry of the meeting suite, with the board room following on and then a number of smaller, more individual rooms, creates an effortless flow of calm and considered spaces for staff and visitors. A nature-inspired manifestation film to the outer glass corridor wall of the meeting rooms was designed in-house by align and offers users a balance of transparency and privacy.
These rooms featureVitrasoft shell chairs in ice-grey, plus contemporary wooden credenzas. Meeting room tables throughout are from Orange Box, which are in white laminate in the smaller rooms and walnut in the two larger rooms. All the rooms also feature Tektura write-on wallcoverings.
The board room houses the furniture brought over from the company’s previous office – the board table and chairs – and is a spacious, peaceful room, painted in two complimentary colours of Farrow & Ball green. Beyond lies a series of much smaller, more informal and open meeting rooms, suitable for 2-3 people, each with its own individual feel, giving users plenty of scope to match the right room and ambience to the right visitor.
The smaller meeting rooms each feature a highly individual treatment, with striking furniture, new and vintage accessories and a feature wall in each, with wallpaper used includinga marble grey paper from the Surfacephilia Beau collection, plus the Willow paper in jade green and Driftwood from the Engineer Collection, by Rockett St George. There is also Fresco Birdpaper in ‘natural’ byBarneby Gates and Innocence by Graham & Brown in duck egg. Chairs include the Vitra DSR, DAW and Belleville.
Opposite, on the inner curve of the corridor, a series of dedicated telephone booths ensuresquiet and confidential conversations with clients and consultants. The booths are clad in white oak (picking up on and working with the base build design),with a tall, thin ‘vision panel’ on each door. Booth furniture is HAL white chairs with wooden legs by the Bourallec Brothers and scribed-in white benches with a birch ply edge.
The final zoned area, at the end of the small meeting room row, is a break-out ‘Hub’kitchen and dining space, for use by staff, consultants and visitors. This spacious area features a limed oak vinyl floor, Louis Poulsen feature lights and Belleville chairs and tables from Vitra. The final open area is more traditional office space, with desking from the ‘Scope’ range by Knoll, but which is nonetheless linked to the meeting room treatments via integrated open meeting areas. A feature ‘snug’ seat – the Verco Jensen informal meeting booth – is upholstered in two-tone Blazer fabric with complementing arm cushions and adds interest, whilst also allowingdiscreet conversation. ‘We couldn’t be happier with the design of our new office’, Kathryn Whinney, Operations Director for Eden McCallum said. ‘We wanted the experience of visiting them to be really impressive and we were on a tight timescale, but Gurvinder wasn’t fazed by this and worked extremely closely with us ensuring we got what we asked for and in incredible detail. Overall the experience was made far easier by align and the rest of the firm is very happy to be working in such an attractive and enjoyable space.’