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We have an exclusive for you. Despite reports to the contrary, the desk is not dead! Far from. While this may come as a bit of a shock to Shoreditch’s bearded fashionistas, the desk, the table, the system – whatever you want to call it – is still key to the success of many a project.

Although we’re all for innovative, agile new settings, we’re also acutely aware that a beanbag, a ping pong table or a bar stool does not suit all businesses – far from. Rather than being sector specific, workplace solutions should always – and we do mean always – be tailored to the client’s own business, its culture, its wants and its needs. Sometimes a beanbag will do the job – but often what is really required is something a little more robust.

When Natixis Global Asset Management moved into its first UK office, a 16,500sq foot space opposite St Pauls Cathedral, interior design firm Mf Studio was enlisted to create an all-encompassing space for the UK workforce of 140 people. Natixis requested an elegant and refined London environment – and that is exactly what the company now has.

Natixis Global Asset Management ($870.3 billion AUM) is a multi-affiliate organisation that offers a single point of access to more than 20 specialised investment firms in the Americas, Europe and Asia. The firm ranks among the world’s largest asset managers. Through its Durable Portfolio Construction philosophy, Natixis Global Asset Management is dedicated to providing innovative ideas on asset allocation and risk management that can help institutions, advisors and individuals address a range of modern market challenges.

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Whilst budgets and a speedy design-to-install timescale were key, the overall look and feel of the environment were of course of utmost importance. For its first UK stand-alone office, Natixis wanted a very strong design statement. MF Studio took inspiration from the office’s proximity to St Paul’s, as the cathedral is reflected in the glass façade of 1 Carter Lane. The design concept was to recreate that reflection in the new reception. A photograph of St Paul’s was etched onto a glass using the latest technology in etching, and the subtle image is impressively lit from above and below by LED lights to create a dramatic backdrop.

MF Studio then set about designing and developing a bespoke desking solution, to add a personal and domestic touch to the open plan. Task Systems was brought on board for its unique ability and experience in manufacturing bespoke desking on a large scale. Task created a design in collaboration with Mf Studio to incorporate desktop storage, electrics and custom lighting for each individual workspace.

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With such a large number of people to provide for, it was essential to get the desking right – both for the sake of the utlisation of the space as a whole and also for the individuals who drive the company forward.
It was imperative that the systems allowed the space to work to its full potential.

“With such a large number of people to provide for, it was essential to get the desking right.”

A solution came in the form of a specially created bench desking system, based on the Uni Table range by ICF. Finished with acoustic screens and storage above and below the desk, the system provides concentrated workstations for over 120 in the open
plan space.

Each screen was upholstered in a slick Ice grey fabric, complimenting the colours of Natixis’ own branding and matching the task chairs in the main office. The screen height was carefully considered, and provides privacy while also allowing people to speak with colleagues. When sitting up straight, it’s easy for staff to see above the screens.

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The storage comprises lockable cabinets – one below the desk height for personal belongings and one above for filing and stationery. Also boasting acoustic absorbing panels, again upholstered in Ice grey, the storage further assists in dampening down the sound of multiple phone calls and chatter, so prevalent in open office space.

Each desk was fitted with cool, retro inspired, fitted glass shaded table lamps. Although the space does have lighting at ceiling level, it was felt that the lamps would provide ambient, warm light as well as providing an extra lighting option for those that need it at their desk.

The mix of the acoustic screen, the storage boxes and the table lamp provides each individual at Natixis a high spec, private space to perform concentrated tasks, despite the open plan nature of the main office scheme.

For the private offices, Task has provided Parallel Executive tabletops on adapted, bespoke bases, which add a luxurious touch, alongside the classically styled Una Executive chairs, upholstered in a sophisticated brown leather.

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Each private office also provides for collaborative work at small round meeting tables, also flanked by Una Executive seating.

“Smart breakout areas are dotted around the space, and are furnished with soft seating from Marelli, Boss Design and Lyndon…”

In addition to the working spaces, Task has provided Uni meeting room tables and paired them with a mix of classic Una Executive and Una Management chairs. Smart breakout areas are dotted around the space, and are furnished with soft seating from Marelli, Boss Design and Lyndon, for informal meetings or for visiting clients to perch at.

Natixis is suitably delighted by the results of the fit out. And justifiably so – the project recently won a coveted BCO Regional Award for projects up to 2,000 sq m in London and the South East. Now that’s a well managed asset.