Nine elegant floors accommodate the various beauty and fragrance brands and training facilities
Client: Estée Lauder Companies
Architect: MCM Architecture
Base-build architect: Sheppard Robson
Fit-out contractor: BW Size: 13,006 sq m
Duration: March 2014 – April 201
Words By Emily Martin
Images By Simon Upton/The Interior Archive
When Estée Lauder Companies moved to its new HQ in Fitzrovia, it brought together its complete UK workforce to one building, including the many beauty and cosmetic brands under its umbrella name. Occupying nine floors of a Sheppard Robson-design building, MCM Architecture was briefed with delivering a family-feel workplace for not only its day-to-day staff using the building but also for trainees based all over the country who visit, while also expressing multibrand identities and catering for a 90 per cent female workforce.
The entrance leads on to the main reception desk, with a dedicated staff entrance set to the left
The resulting scheme is a beautiful, agile work environment, showcasing a community feel that has been recognised as one of the best workplaces in London at the annual British Council for Offices (BCO) regional property sector awards.
Working spaces include this relaxed set-up
A spacious hotel-style lobby greets visitors, meeting Estée Lauder Companies’ brief of wanting to ensure a welcoming space for staff and the 100 or so visitors a day. ‘Some of the trainees visiting have never been to London before, nor have they been to such a big company; it can feel very intimidating especially if they are young,’ says Lauren Crilly, project leader, MCM. ‘There is a dedicated entrance for them to use, so they can come into the building and know where to go [the second-floor training facility].’
Staff can have hair and nail treatments while at work
But before going up as they would, I head to the lower-ground level, via a spiral staircase, which leads to the staff restaurant, employee store, nail and blow-dry bar. Centred under an atrium, the space lacks natural light and ‘therefore we wanted to give the space something better’, says Crilly. Staff use these areas to meet, work and relax, with wifi and a phone signal throughout the whole building, where laptops, not desk space, are assigned.
Staff can have hair and nail treatments while at work
A London Underground theme features on the lower-ground floor to include metro tiles and motifs seen on Tube and bus-seat upholstery, showcased on a ceiling lighting feature. The light responds to mimic natural daylight and even people walking past. ‘This is also the function area, for parties, so the lighting can be programmed to flash all different colours too,’ adds Crilly.
The training space on the second floor has its own reception
Back up the spiral staircase, to reception level, you find yourself facing a striking cantilevered and gold-trimmed staircase. Crilly says ‘the spiral staircase and some of the interior elements were designed and installed by Sheppard Robson, so we had to incorporate this into a colour palette for Estée Lauder Companies, which includes golds and greys’.
MCM designed this cantelevered staircase for the new building
The second-floor training reception is light and elegant in form. A London theme continues with a feature picture wall of eclectic views of the capital. An open space, refreshments and name badges lay ready to welcome visitors, In the training rooms cosmetics are displayed in cases with a correlating brand screen next to them. The screens double up as sliding doors to open or close off the rooms as needed. A staff kitchen also features here, as they do on every floor of the building.
Open plan is the style for the work areas
Up to the fifth floor, via a lift, and you step out facing the atrium. Each floor has its own brand identity, which is immediately obvious when reaching the floor. ‘But it can all be changed very quickly if needed,’ says Crilly.
Estée Lauder’s signature Blue Room, based of the original office of Estée Lauder and featuring in all of the company’s buildings
‘If, for example, the Jo Malone floor needed to be used for Clinique, then screens to the meeting rooms and the floor itself can be easily changed to display the needed branding.’ This floor is geared more to the daily users of the building, with the space divided up into community hubs. Open-plan desks, areas of soft seating and rooms of varying sizes comprise the various working environments.
Meeting rooms with soft seating offer an alternative to desk working
‘We placed all meeting rooms at the core, freeing up the perimeter’s natural light for open-plan or individual and small team working rooms,’ says Crilly. ‘There was also the need for full-length mirrors in cellular offices and meeting rooms, which is a requirement for staff working in the cosmetic products industry.’
The eighth-floor (executive floor) includes a large conference room, a ‘sky lounge’, cafe area and a roof terrace with panoramic city views. It also features a ‘Blue Room’, as does every Estée Lauder Company's office building, which is based on the original office of Estée Lauder and uses more traditionally designed interior furnishings – and a few antiques – against the sleek, contemporary scheme of the rest of the building.
The lower-ground staff cafe features a ceiling lighting system that compensates for the lack of natural light in the space
‘Anybody can come and use the space up here, but we were worried that as it is the offices for senior members of staff people would stay away,’ says Crilly. ‘But I was delighted to see that this floor, in fact, was one of the most used when the building was first occupied.
‘From all levels, whether a trainee or an executive, the company wanted a work environment that reinforced a sense of community. And that’s pretty special and amazing to see in such a huge organisation such as Estée Lauder Companies’.