Several years ago when Shannan Whitney first approached the practice, the fact that it then had little commercial experience was exactly what he was looking for. As project lead Joshua Mulford explains, “He wanted, a fresh different take on the office, to bring in the level of detailing and craft we would normally apply to a house. What he really didn’t want was a duplicable and repeated brand interior.”
Chenchow Little’s response has been to create a stage-like setting of velvet curtains forming pods that, as Mulford says, “Float like jellyfish through the space.” The pods have been arranged as two curves to create a waving negative space across the floor’s diagonal. The reception counter has been placed at the centre of this void to effectively afford both front and rear access equal status. With the rear entrance comprising both a Heritage wall and ugly old roller door, Chenchow Little proposed filling the lower portion of the roller door cavity with a short wall of original bricks found on-site, to create a window. The void was then finished with a pink trim to match the most immediate of the pods.
The pods themselves are sublime. Executed in Velluti velvet (James Dunlop) in shades drawn from the building’s era – olive green, dusty pink and indigo – the pods’ presence shifts dramatically. “We chose the colours to suit the look of the turn of the century building in a contemporary way. The three colours work together as a family of layers, where in combination they are the strongest,” says
ircular working and meeting pods are arranged with wrapping perimeter curtains, creating both installation piece and spatial purpose. Once it houses a full team, 25 people can intertwine across the 3 pods of varying size, encouraging collaboration and allowing flexibility for different team sizes and the staging of increased staff levels.
The curved geometry is a counterpoint to the warehouse grid, and diagonally links the existing street and rear precinct entry. The placement of each pod guides circulation and movement, drawing the visitor towards the central reception area.
Velvet curtains inject opulence and surprise to an office interior, and are paired with low-tech materials such as birch plywood and industrial concrete paint. The majority of joinery and furniture is custom-designed in plywood to continue the circular geometry and reduce the palette of materials. Vintage 1900s colours such as olive green, indigo blue and pastel pink were selected to reflect the buildings heritage and denote each pods function.