A MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In light of the increased traffic on the roads in Cape Town - South Africa, we decided to relocate the Design TACT office to a more central location, out of the stereo-typical "creative hub" of the City Centre, and experience and create a very different working environment amongst the corporate landscape of the Southern Suburbs. This transition came at the appropriate time whereby the business was moving towards a more strategic offering, specializing in design solutions to an array of industries and clientele. We felt a fresh update to the studio would foster a creative space for our staff to feel comfortable pushing the boundaries of design, leading to a more valuable product for our clients. The nearby Cavendish Mall, along with an assortment of coffee shops and restaurants provides a great opportunity for the team to be inspired by local design, while enjoying social breaks and meetings.
The space we signed the lease for was occupied by an engineering company that had a traditional office culture of divided office spaces, segregated areas and a rabbit-warren of dry-walling. However, there existed the the potential to create a very open, dynamic and creatively inspired space for designers and project specialists. At conception, the design of the space was to optimize working dynamics between the design studio and weekly traffic needs, minimize wasted space and unnecessary admin areas and lastly, make use of existing services such as plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning and extractions for cost-savings and budget constraints.
Once we took occupation, we removed the existing internal dry-walling and partitions, disconnected the existing electrical points along with the air-conditioning and stripped out the entire floor finishings. Being a heritage building, the usual surprises awaited us and our contingency amount was quickly absorbed due to the rotten Oregon Pine floor sub-structure and un-even floor levels. Once the floor structure was rectified, we began the conversion of an empty dreary space into a creative, open office concept.
The existing drop-in ceiling provided some cost relief as it could be reused. The ceiling boards were removed, cleaned replace and sprayed matte black to provide a backdrop for our lighting pendants. Once the new central bulkhead was installed to break the black and create a dynamic linear feature, the office had the structural attributes that allowed the peripheral and newly applied planning to have presence and purpose. All the walls were painted shades of the matt-black ceiling with only the central section of the office applied in white to add to the dynamic contrast and purposeful planning. Our office is blessed with large amounts of natural light and full height glass partitioning, this allows the dark environment to stand proud and contemporize it without becoming depressing or overwhelming.
Because of the un-even sub-floor, we eventually decided to lay a loose tiled re-cycled rubber floor to absorb sound and to easily follow and adopt the initial floor structure. The black provided the necessary colour that was practical and functional.
All the new light-fittings are LED spec’d and finished in white acrylic or sand-blasted concrete. Their light appearance totally lifts the dark environment and in their own right became focal features of the design.
Furnishings and Finishings:
All the desks and office equipment are finished in black and white so the monochromatic design methodology carried itself through and unified the entire space. The new wall units were purpose made and finished in white Duco MDF to provide ample storage space with a decorative appeal. Although the space is not exaggerated or wasteful, we’ve still managed to keep important pause areas for staff to relax and a compact kitchen area with a dishwasher, microwave and coffee machine. These spaces flow into one another and certainly provide relief from the studio hub and desk areas.
Staff come first; always find a space that offers more than just a place to work. Your staff need to feel inspired and content, work is more than just 9 – 5.
Priorities on infrastructure; before getting carried away on furnishings. Make sure you have provided the right data and IT equipment. To be able to work efficiently, you need to have your IT in place.
Don’t be afraid of the dark; a dark office environment allows for a better working environment due to lower reflection off monitors and creates a calmer ambiance in staff behavior.