We’re in central London’s Warren Street and are fully focused on our next meeting.
So much so in fact that, as we enter our destination, we almost say good morning to the ‘security guard’ – who on closer inspection is actually a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Liam Neeson. Thankfully we don’t think anyone noticed – so we’ll just keep that to ourselves.
The reason we’re ‘greeted’ by Liam is that we’ve come to look at the UK headquarters of Entertainment One (also known as eOne) – the world’s leading independent entertainment company, which operates in the UK, Ireland, Canada, the US, Spain, Benelux, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea, creating and distributing films, music and television programmes. These include everything from major box office hits such as The Twilight Saga and 12 Years a Slave, to popular children’s series such as Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, as well as award-winning television series The Walking Dead and many other media productions.
Following years of significant growth, eOne sought to relocate its UK headquarters in London to accommodate the expansion. The Interiors Group, working with project manager Knight Frank, was given the brief to create a forward thinking office space to reflect the company brand.
‘eOne were originally working with Knight Frank and another design firm and they came up with a lot of space analysis,’ Kathryn O’Callaghan, Head Designer at The Interiors Group, explains. ‘The company is growing at a rate of knots and had outgrown previous premises – they were really dotted around, with buildings in Dean Street in Soho and Golden Square – so this was also about pulling everyone together.
‘We originally pitched, taking the original ideas and turning them on their head. We gave them some really different options – especially for the reception and front of house areas. We had an extremely short timeframe here – about two weeks – and I think the client wasn’t getting to an end result that they were happy with in the timeframe that they had. We had fresh eyes – and they needed someone who could both design and build the project. They are a very technology-based business, so it was a real challenge to get everyone across at the same time on the same date and having them up and running here.
‘The furniture was also a huge element – they started afresh, which was lovely, and they donated all their previous furniture to charity. We’ve been able to use the space – which is around 20,000 sq ft – to add some elements such as major breakout areas and the meeting suite. This is also the first time they’ve really been able to create zones for each of their departments. This is really about allowing them to work better.’
‘We originally pitched, taking the original ideas and turning them on their head. We gave them some really different options…’
Being one of the world’s leading entertainment companies, eOne wanted a reception area to reflect the business going into the future. Aside from Liam, we find bright and brilliant informal seating areas, a sleek reception desk and high quality finishes.
Oversized Tom Dixon copper mirror ball lights have been placed as feature lighting, while Aqua grout has been used universally throughout the project to pick out the client’s branding, creating a futuristic look. Kathryn and the interiors team also specified Bolon’s Wing collection for the flooring. Two colours from the range are cleverly used and laid in varying directions so that the grain picks up the light in a different way. We notice that the wing design is used with the accent blue taken from eOne’s corporate colour – while the Wings are also set-out to act a form of wayfinding to guide visitors through the space right from the entrance of the reception through to the meeting suite.
‘Working with the client on this arrangement was a wonderful experience,’ Kathryn enthuses. ‘Shortly after we completed this design, Bolon Wings won an award for the ‘Surface of the Year’ – which really cemented how great the flooring design looks in reality.’ We’ve no idea which prestigious award Kathryn is referring to!
Before we move on to look at the working heart of eOne’s new home, Kathryn is eager to show us what is one of the most exciting and also challenging spaces here at Warren Street – and another major new facility for eOne. ‘I love the screening room – which was a first for us,’ she enthuses. ‘It is a big screening room and it was amazing to work with the specialist designers on this. They essentially created the box and we then specified all the finishes. The acoustics are incredible here and this was a massive challenge – but the results are absolutely amazing.’
We leave the quiet of the screening room and head through to the buzz of the heart of the space. ‘They have three floors here – the ground, the third and the fourth,’ Kathryn tells us. ‘The building is shaped like a doughnut with a large atrium in the middle, which has allowed us to make use of the natural light throughout the building and add smart breakout areas on each of the floors.
‘Because it is a doughnut shape and we do have rows of desks, they were very conscious to not make the space feel like a call centre. We’ve added small breakout areas and different informal working zones wherever possible, such as high-back sofas. It was a challenge to fit everyone into the space, but we’ve been able make use of ‘dead spaces’ and break up the rows of desks.’
The impressive major breakout areas are situated at the heart of the three floors. This leads onto an amazing external terrace, creating a relaxed feel with high wooden benches and farmhouse chairs. Pendant lights hang from the embossed ceiling rafts, framing each of the high benches and creating a focus to the seating areas. ‘These guys work long hours, so it is important that they have somewhere nice to come, to get away from their desks,’ Kathryn explains. ‘The nice thing is that everything is being used – and nothing has been moved around too much!’
‘Because it is a doughnut shape and we do have rows of desks, they were very conscious to not make the space feel like a call centre.’
The colour palette throughout the office space is kept stylishly monochrome, featuring cool grey tomes, with colour brilliantly provided by eOne’s own promotional artwork. We cannot believe just how many amazing movies and TV shows eOne has been responsible for!
A really nice touch is that the meeting rooms are even named after the company’s movies – the King’s Room, for example, is subtly branded with promotional material from the King’s Speech.
We’ll leave the final speech to the client. ‘The Interiors Group
completed our rapid 20,000 sq ft fit out on time and on budget,’ Adam Hurst, Finance Director at Entertainment One UK Films, says. ‘They listened to us, took our design to reality and created clean and contemporary spaces, which have transformed our working environment. The team were excellent to work with and we’re delighted with the end product.’