Estée Lauder

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Every now and again we start hearing murmurs of a new workplace scheme that sets new benchmarks in terms of innovation, flexibility and integration of technology. The Estée Lauder Companies’ new London home at One Fitzroy is undoubtedly the latest to fit this bill.

We’ve heard that there are incredibly innovative, intelligent meeting spaces, for example. There are also fantastic training facilities, apparently. Well, today we have the opportunity to take a look around this much-vaunted project and see for ourselves why The Estée Lauder Companies is the name on the lips of so many people in this sector right now.

Even before we’ve entered One Fitzroy we’re aware that we’re about to experience something quite unique. As we wander through Fitzroy Place, past smart new eateries and bars, we can see activity on the first floor – in the shape of someone getting a haircut.

Walking into the open and incredibly generous reception space, we find three girls ahead of us who show QR codes to the ladies behind the sleek reception desk and are immediately guided to the far end of the space. Our first glimpse of the advanced integrated technology we were expecting to see here.

We meet with MCM Architecture’s Creative Director Paul Scrivener and an Estée Lauder Companies representative. Unlike the three girls in front of us a minute ago, we head to the main lift shafts immediately in front of us. The reasoning behind this will be explained to us a little later.

‘One Fitzroy brings over 25 brands together under one roof. They are all premium brands but with their own distinct personalities and positioning.’

Our hosts smile ironically at one another as our lift arrives to take us to the top of the building. Although as beautifully finished as any lift we’ve seen, the sustainable design of the lift system means we have been allocated a rear lift without the amazing views afforded by the other glass lifts here. Not that we feel too short-changed; as soon as we disembark onto the 8th floor we can see out across the spectacular atrium, where we get a glimpse of several of the floors below us.

We move through to the equally spectacular barista bar space, where we sit and chat over a coffee. ‘When we started working with The Estée Lauder Companies we were looking at this building and also another site,’ Paul recalls. ‘We did some initial test plans on this building and, looking back at those designs; they are remarkably close to what we’ve done here. The company was in four or five buildings across the West End – they were really lovely townhouses but didn’t support the collaborative working ethic very effectively.

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One Fitzroy brings over 25 brands together under one roof. They are all premium brands but with their own distinct personalities and positioning,’ Paul continues, ‘but this is an Estée Lauder Companies’ headquarters building, so the challenge was to come up with a scheme that would also allow each of the brands to express their own unique identities against a backdrop for The Estée Lauder Companies. We solved this with concept of the ‘brand hubs’ – dedicated brand spaces where the essence of each of the brands is brought to life.

‘Branding of the shared meeting and training rooms was also a consideration. If you’re training for Aveda, for example, you need an Aveda branded training room. We therefore had to come up with a way in which these shared spaces could be rebranded at the touch of a button. The technology is incredible. The flexibility of the shared spaces is maximized with concealed cupboards which slide across to reveal a different brand’s product displays and digital signage that enable the space to transform from one
brand to another.’

‘All these details have made such a difference,’ we are told by our hosts. ‘Before, we often needed to outsource our training to a hotel, but now all colleagues at the Point of Sale – those people who face customers every day – have got their own dedicated training facilities on the 1st and 2nd floors.

‘They also have their own dedicated entrance, up through the amazing brass staircase.’ It is now clear why those aforementioned girls headed in a different direction earlier, QR codes in hand. ‘They now have two floors that they can call home.

‘The lower ground has the café, the employee store and the hair and nail bar,’ Paul tells us. ‘Then we get to 6th and 8th floors, which both have these wonderful terraces, which wrap right around the building – they are going to be great in the summer. You get amazing views out across London.’

‘The 8th floor really does provide a beautiful and collaborative workspace where people can either sit back with a coffee, or hold informal meetings…’

‘It is such a different space for everyone,’ we are told. ‘The 8th floor really does provide a beautiful and collaborative workspace where people can either sit back with a coffee, or hold informal meetings – or even take a yoga or Pilates class. It’s always bustling with people.’

Indeed, as we walk back through to the heart of the building, we can see people meeting and working in a variety of informal breakout spaces. As we move through, Paul points out another important element of the scheme. ‘The family and the heritage are still very important to the company – Mrs Estée Lauder is still an incredible presence,’ he explains. ‘There are several fantastic photos of her throughout the building, and we also have this room that looks slightly different from the rest. It’s called the Blue Room, which is a real homage to Mrs Estée Lauder herself.’

Now let in its entirety to The Estée Lauder Companies, One Fitzroy offers 140,000 sq ft of office space, plus the impressive 4,000 sq ft reception. The incredibly efficient floorplates are approximately 18,000 sq ft each, with those middle floors featuring a vast variety of working and meeting facilities, including generous breakout space, smart open plan office space, brand hubs and those hi-tech, flexible meeting rooms. As Paul told us a little earlier, one touch of a button and one brand is instantly transformed into another.

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The building is now home to some 450 Estée Lauder Companies staff members, the majority of whom – not surprisingly given the nature of the business – are female. Did this fact impact on the design of the space at all? ‘It does feel softer here,’ Paul says. ‘It helped that our own team was predominantly female – it was important that we put together the right team to deliver the right solution. It definitely has a more feminine feel to it. The UK team here at Estée Lauder Companies was wonderful to work with and I think, together, we’ve managed to create something that everyone’s happy with.’

The backdrop Paul spoke of a little earlier features elegant, immaculate finishes and product and material selections, which allow the brands and the products themselves to become an integral part of the décor.

The lower ground floor is less café in look and feel than it is chic restaurant/diner, complete with comprehensive, health-conscious menu, elegant banquette seating and calming mood lighting. Opposite we find the shop, which resembles a high-end duty free store, where staff can come in and pick up subsidised Estée Lauder Companies’ products, and the equally impressive hair and nail bar, where they can, well, get a blow dry done over lunch or before a night out.

The staff here are clearly made up – in more ways than one!