We think we’re pretty close to setting a Mix record for most Clerkenwell showrooms visited in one day. Now you know how much we love the borough and its residents – and also how much we’re ‘into’ sourcing new products. We have to admit, however, that the cold, wet weather is adding to our showroom visit numbers, as we avoid the constant freezing drizzle.
Normally we’d be less than happy, therefore, if we had to head back out onto the streets to go and source a project story. Today, however, we’re extremely happy (and relieved) that not only are we promised a great story, we also only have to make a swift dash across to the jewellery hub of Hatton Garden.
Having managed to avoid the latest cold-inducing shower, we’ve come to see the latest in serviced office style facilities. Headspace, a newly launched flexible working space has, we’ve been assured, an emphasis on style – and first impressions do nothing to make us believe anything different.
The building, which was built in 1907 by architects Niven & Wigglesworth, is a Grade II listed space, which has been redeveloped to restore its classic features, including floors, staircases and original marble columns. Regular readers will be only too aware that we have a genuine fondness for old meeting new, classic meeting contemporary – and we’re pretty certain Headspace is going to reveal exactly this to us. In spades.
We’re met at reception – where our eyes are immediate drawn to a large, cool bespoke neon sign – by Headspace MD Jonathan Rosenlblatt, who can tell us more about the Headspace concept and the facility here on Hatton Garden. ‘We took a lease over three floors here,’ he reveals. ‘It’s a Grade II listed building, and we took three very standard office floors – white, walls, blue carpet tiles – and decided to fit the entire space specifically for creative and tech businesses. We wanted the space to be a lot more aesthetically pleasing than a standard serviced office space.
‘That’s precisely why we chose the interior design firm we did – Luxe International – because they usually work with bars and hotels, rather than with office space. This was a conscious decision, as we wanted to create a completely different environment to other offices.
‘We worked through a whole mixture of finishes. Glass was important because it gives that natural light. In fact, I’m pretty sure that everything we’ve got here is sourced within the UK. I’d like to say that was by design, but was actually a bit of a coincidence, which we then started to run with.
‘This area is becoming increasingly design focused, so we really needed to create the right space here…’
‘We put in timber effect flooring alongside the glazed partitioning. I was quite adamant that, although there would be glass dividing each of the offices, we needed lineated space – hence the use of the frames throughout the system. We then have that industrial feel with ceiling beams. I suppose we wanted it to look like an office – without looking like an office!
‘This area is becoming increasingly design focused, so we really needed to create the right space here. We originally looked at spaces in Clerkenwell and Farringdon, and also King’s Cross – and then Camden and slightly further east, towards Shoreditch. I love this area though, it has a lot of character to it.’
The ground floor level beyond the neon lit reception features those individual glazed offices, together with a small suite of larger office spaces. Jonathan tells us how the space works for Headspace’s residents. ‘You have a self-contained office – which can range from three person offices right through to 15-person space. We offer all the furniture – the desks and chairs here are from The Senator Group.
‘Because of the creative nature of the companies we attract, most people tend to work off laptops, so we didn’t really need anything larger than 1,200mm desks – and we haven’t had a single complaint about the size of the worktops. Each desk comes with a built-in pedestal, so there is plenty of personal storage space for everyone. We have to be as efficient as we can with the space – and I think, proportionally, the desk size works here.
‘We sourced the meeting room furniture separately – just so we could create a different feel. You also get free access to 10MB and telephone lines – and if you need more then we have the capability. There is sensor-controlled lighting throughout – it has to been fitted out to a very good standard.
‘We ask for a minimum commitment of three months to give as much flexibility as possible, although on the whole everyone has committed to either six months or 12 months. There is a sliding scale – if you commit to a little longer then you get a little bit off your costs.’
Jonathan and the team have undoubtedly created something different and special here. This space has individuality and character – two things that are so often lacking in traditional serviced office facilities. As we walk through to the first floor, we admire the brilliant, contemporary artwork and talk more about the original features – such as the marble staircase – and the history of the building. We’re so glad that many of those features have been left to speak for themselves rather than ‘enjoying’ a 21st century make-over.
The first floor features more glazed individual office banks together with meeting rooms that, although traditional in nature, have a contemporary feel and decoration. We also find cool breakout areas, with the seating provided by a relatively young British furniture manufacturer called JDD. In fact, all the soft seating and pods throughout the facility have been provided by JDD – certainly a name to keep an eye out for.
‘Meeting rooms don’t need to be boring rooms,’ Jonathan considers. ‘So we decided to use tables provided by a company called Vintage Industrial Furniture. We could have used normal meeting room furniture, and made these rooms look quite sharp and polished and corporate, but I love this kind of feel – I think it really adds to the character of the space. Also, and we need to remember this, we have a different kind of client here.’
‘Meeting rooms don’t need to be boring rooms…’
Moving up to the second floor, we see the true flexible nature of not just the design but also the Headspace culture. Much more open plan in nature, we find ourselves in the heart of a working day for the residents here. While some work ‘normally’ from desks, others have iBooks on laps or are perched and clustered in informal meetings. There’s even music blasting out! This, we quickly realise, is unlike any scene we’ve seen in a serviced office facility.
‘If I’m honest, this is a pretty low-cost way of projecting that different image to both your clients and your staff,’ Jonathan admits, with a smile. ‘I do think you have to be of a certain mind to appreciate this environment – and indeed want to come and work here.
‘The whole point is that it is different, it is relaxed. We have a bunch of like-minded businesses here now. We’re not looking to force any working culture on anyone – it’s highly organic and it’s exciting that a real community is starting to form.’
So there you have it; if you’re a young, creative business looking for space in and around the Clerkenwell area, there’s more than one diamond in Hatton Garden.