Ward Robinson design and project manage the redesign and fit-out of TH_NK – London Office.
How were you commissioned?:
TH_NK asked Newcastle-based Ward Robinson to design and project manage the redesign and fit-out of their London office having previously worked with Simon Grundy, Ward Robinson interior design director, on both their Newcastle and London offices. TH_NK was established by its founding partner Tarek Nseir in Newcastle in 2004 and opened its London office in 2008.
What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:
TH_NK, www.wearethink.com, is a digital agency based in London, Newcastle and Liverpool. The next 10 years will see the same technological progress as the previous 200, leading to shifts in behaviour like we’ve never seen before - in how we live, work, play and learn. TH_NK works with high profile clients such as Vue, Arup, Warner Bros, Pottermore, LV= and ASOS to create for this future. The brief was to redesign and refit the existing office space - part of a Victorian warehouse in Clerkenwell - to better accommodate TH_NK’s growing team of 110 people working across their three offices. To create a luxe apartment-like setting and private space for workshops with clients as well as displaying TH_NK’s growing collection of technology artefacts - turning the space into a museum which represents the past 200 years of tech innovation. This collection is important in communicating TH_NK’s proposition as well as being decorative - a reminder that things which were once leading edge over the last 200 years are now influencing the next wave of rapid innovation over the next 10 years. Items range from a landline phone booth to the world’s first Macintosh computer, a Sinclair C5 electric car to the first mobile phone and drone. There are display cabinets on each floor, and each item is carefully lit and labelled. The cabinets for the collection account for 60% of the total cabinets in the space. “The brief developed over about a year as we worked with TH_NK,” commented Simon Grundy. “We looked at how the whole space could be used and experimented with various layouts, then refined the details.”
How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:
We’ve moved on from TH_NK’s previous office design which was very stripped back and tech focused, and created a much warmer space with more texture and richer colours. The scale is domestic, a ‘home from home’, and the aesthetic is Scandi-inspired using oak and silky black board for the bespoke cabinets and screening, mixed pendant light shades and a range of seating.
How did your previous experience help you with this project?:
We have worked with TH_NK on several projects over the years and we know each other well. Tarek Nseir, founding partner at TH_NK said: “Simon, and his team at Ward Robinson, have perfectly captured our vision and turned it into a reality.”
Can you explain the layout of the project:
The ground floor and mezzanine were already cut away from the Vine Hill entrance to create an atrium. The entrance opens straight on to the ground floor with informal tables and seating, including custom designed seating, and a kitchen area where clients and staff share facilities. This multifunctional space is used for office meetings, hot-desking and taking breaks. Where the ground floor was cut away it has now been re-filled with structural glass. This still allows light into the basement whilst providing acoustic privacy for the client area below. The basement was previously a number of small rooms. It has now been opened up creating two meeting rooms with floor to ceiling glass partitions off a larger client workshop space which has a snug area with feature fire. A wall of preserved forest moss links the ground floor and mezzanine through the atrium. The height of this space is also emphasised by pendant lights at different heights. The mezzanine is open plan and occupied by the development team. The first floor is also open plan, has a second kitchen and two meeting rooms. The management and administration teams are based here.
What problems or challenges did you face?:
We wanted each floor to have a different function and a different feel to suit that, so there’s variety as you move through the space. To maximise light and a feeling of warmth, all the meeting rooms have glass partitions and a range of pendant lights has been used throughout. Across the rear wall of the ground floor backlit glass panels fitted with colour change LEDs set to mimic a sunrise create a subtle and calming feature.
What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:
Incorporating the collection of technology history within the main workspace was unusual but hugely rewarding.
How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:
Hopefully we are pushing the human agenda in office dwelling forward in creating spaces people want to not only be in but stay and enjoy. Tarek Nseir commented: “The team love it as they have more a more open, connected, creative and relaxed environment to work and think; our clients are choosing to spend more time with us rather than be at their own offices, and our tech museum showcases are a real talking point for all who visit the agency.”
Suppliers: Ege / Andreu World / Polyflor / Graeme Ash Shopfitting /
Photography Kristen McCluskie - credit © Kristen McCluskie www.kristenmccluskie.com