B3 Designers had to rethink usual office lighting for this visual effects firm, London, whose specialists need to work in the dark…
Designer: B3 Designers
Client: Moving Picture Company
Size: 300 sq m
Duration: Four months
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Lia Vittone
B3 Designers has redesigned the London offices of creative studio Moving Picture Company. The Soho-based company is a leader in the VFX (visual effects) field and has been creating spectacular visual experiences in the film, advertising and entertainment industries for more than 25 years. So tasked with creating an inspiring and adaptable space for the post-production company meant that B3 Designers had to re-evaluate some of its design thinking to provide a suitable workplace for MPC.
The design team was given a brief to create an inspiring, welcoming, creative and comfortable workspace that was representative of an innovative and established, global post-production company. The challenges of the project presented themselves early on. 'As a large portion of the MPC teams work quite closely on visual effects, they value the ability to alter the level of light in the space to let them to make it quite dark as and when needed,' says Mark Bithrey, design director at B3 Designers. He says that workspaces, including B3 Designer's own studio, typically aim for high levels of illumination, and ideally include ample natural night, so here an alternative solution was needed to allow a controllable light source.
The reception area features a poured concrete desk and blackened timber cladding
'In the workspace area we selected oversized can lights to disburse soft light above the desks and brighter fluorescents above them. We also ensured all lights were on dimmable switches to ensure the teams could amend the lighting as needed.'
While the workspace features both light and dark work settings, the design scheme also took on contrasting vibes. Featuring a variety of materials such as galvanised steel, melamine-faced ply, scaffolding boards, iroko timber, concrete worktops and resin flooring, B3 Designers has delivered bold aesthetics using intense contrasts between light and dark as its core inspiration. 'This to us was representative of early film language and the early film-making process,' explains Bithrey. 'This inspiration was applied to deliver what we had envisioned for the client, which was to create an impact and a sense of arrival.'
Dimmable can-light pendants hang over desks
MPC's front-of-house space is authoritative, dark and cool, with a visual focus on the reception desk with its poured concrete top and blackened timber cladding. Move on to the staff area and a more casual space is revealed that uses such features as melamine faced ply desktops and scaffolding boards for joinery and wall cladding, industrial bulkhead wall lights in stainless steel and exposed steel conduit detail. Long, uniform, shared desks with oversized can light pendants overhead provide the required adjustable light levels for the animators.
In the director's office timber-clad walls sit around the iroko desks, vintage teak tambour units, mid-century Danish sofas reupholstered in Bute fabric and Ercol chairs, all adding up to a lighter feeling ambience.
Reupholstered mid-century furniture, wood cladding and carpeting aim at a lighter feel in the director's office
The communal desks in the main workspace are directed towards a wall painted by Banksy, a second gift from the artist after his original artwork in the building, a small rat, was accidentally painted over.
'MPC helped Banksy with a promo and, as a thank you, he sprayed a little rat on an interior wall,' says Bithrey. 'This was unbeknown to the MPC's director however - who thought it was vandalism - and the stencil was quickly painted over!' The main wall of the workspace is now adorned with a bigger Banksy, who came back to do it after hearing about the incident.
The artwork by Banksy replaced an earlier - and smaller - work mistakenly taken for graffiti and painted over...
B3 Designers has delivered an 'easy flow' space, enabling staff to move around and use the space efficiently. 'As hospitality designers, we are accustomed to planning circulation and looking at how people will use the space,' says Bithrey. 'Working with MPC has been an opportunity for us to create an atmosphere of hospitality in a workspace and deliver this environment to an audience who spend a great deal of time in it.'
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