It’s been a while since we were last in this part of east London. We don’t remember it looking and feeling like this though. Maybe it’s the fact that the winter sun is shining or maybe it’s the brand new Pret a Manger that has added something? Actually, there’s one thing that surpasses both of these – the vibe.
Resonate Interiors was appointed by Ipsos MORI, the market research company, to design its new central London office in Thomas More Square, just a stone’s throw from St Katherine’s Dock. And, like we said, unlike the last time we were here, there is a real vibe to the square on this fine morning. We’d hazard a guess that this is almost entirely down to the square’s new tenants, who have injected that much-welcomed buzz and fervor – the newest of whom is Ipsos MORI.
Part of the Ipsos Group, Ipsos MORI is a leading full service UK research company with global reach. The group specialises in brand communication, advertising and media research, consumer, retail and shopper and healthcare research, customer and employee relationship management research and social and political and reputation research.
Resonate’s Pernille Stafford meets us at the 4th floor reception space, and begins by telling us that her client relocated from its previous offices in Borough Road and Minerva House into this one central location, so there was a workplace strategy to move the teams from both buildings to sit cohesively together. The teams are now situated together across four floors in this newly refurbished building.
“We’ve added light fittings from Scandinavia, timber floors from Wales and in reception we’ve got a two-tone floor…”
‘They had already found the site and had just about done the deal when we pitched for this,’ Pernille gives us a little background to the project. ‘We were one of 10 and we were against some of the ‘big guys’. The project involved both this site and Harrow,
so you’ve got approximately 65,000 sq ft and another 20,000 sq ft in Harrow, running in parallel. It was quite a challenge because we only had six weeks on site.
‘We inherited a lot of base build and the challenge was to make the space as interesting and bespoke as we could, whilst keeping much of that base build. News International was in here before Ipsos MORI.
Ipsos MORI briefed Resonate for a creative and relaxed interior, but executed cost-effectively, Pernille tells us. As she has already explained, the client wanted to maximise on the existing CAT B fit-out and enhance these features to provide a new and collaborative environment.
‘We had inherited a test-fit plan and that had all the people here next to the atrium – but that meant that we couldn’t use that circulation space. This is a real ‘doughnut’ building. What we did was change that by moving people out to the perimeter and then added ‘chain’ partitions and a bespoke walkway carpet, which gives continuous circulation and places for people to sit. It’s really nice because this means they now interact a lot – it has completely changed the way they work. Some teams were coming from a dated Victorian building on Borough Road, so this move to an open plan space where everyone can see one another has massively changed the levels of communication.
‘They wanted something quite cool and relaxed. To be honest, the space is heavily populated – which did present something of a challenge. We have tried to make it a little quirky – we’ve added light fittings from Scandinavia, timber floors from Wales and in reception we’ve got a two-tone floor, which has been designed to resemble the bar graphs they do as part of their surveys. There is
a slight Scandinavian feel to the space, I suppose. Nothing really matches in terms of the furniture – and it’s not supposed to. This means they can move things around and allows the space to be really, really flexible.’
The team clearly rose to the challenges thrown at them, delivering a bright and fresh office interior with a 90% open plan environment for the 750 staff. The design features, highlights and landmarks allow the staff a sense of place and ensures there is not too much repetition as you walk through.
To this end, the atrium light and connectivity is now maximised by allowing seating and walkways all the way round. This acts as a separator from the workplace by hanging decorative chains, which provides a great backdrop to the eclectic seating areas. The new space provides the opportunity for employees to get away from desks for impromptu meetings and quiet working.
80% of the existing carpets and ceiling tiles were reused. Supplementary and clever use of bespoke design carpet in-fills has been used to provide distinctive walkways around the floor. The lighting in these areas is enhanced over and above the base build to lower the levels of light and provides more intimate settings for the atrium seating areas.
“The tea points and café were also an important part of the scheme, providing staff with a place to dine within an alternative space.”
The existing meeting rooms on the open plan floors were given a ‘face-lift’. Resonate selected large graphics for all rooms, making bold and strong statements, as well as adding character to each of these rooms, which also feature clever acoustic light fittings that absorb some of the noise from a busy office environment.
Speaking of meetings, it here on the 4th floor that Ipsos MORI has its public and client facing space. The theme here is essentially contemporary, eclectic and comfortable design that would appeal to a wide range of visitors and not be ostentatious in anyway.
‘This is where they have the meeting room suite for all their seminars, briefings and client meetings,’ Pernille continues. ‘The people who come through this space are major heads of business and government departments. It’s a fascinating business. We spent a lot of time with Ben Page, who is the CEO here. He’s very energetic and has very definitive ideas about everything – so that was really good fun. I should also say that we had a great client team here. Jones Lang Lasalle were the project managers, and they were excellent. They were very strict with us all – but had to be because we had tight, budgets, tight timelines and the client was also extremely busy.’
Furniture also played an integral part of the project. Working in collaboration with Rainbow Office Design, Resonate selected Dynamobel bench workstations. When supplemented with a huge range of unique and eclectic pieces, all in contrasting fabrics and finishes, they add character to the scheme as well as allowing the user to connect with the arrangement on a personal level.
The tea points and café were also an important part of the scheme, providing staff with a place to dine within an alternative space. The impressive café houses 100 seats in various settings, from bar and banquette, through to bench and café. This again allows for interaction, collaboration and for staff to enjoy time away from the desk. It is no great surprise that the space has been a huge success with staff.
As mentioned a little earlier, Ipsos MORI was so pleased with the designs for its new central London offices that they briefed Resonate for the completion of the new Harrow office as well. The same theme and design ideas were used in Harrow, which became a transformational project as the office had always been of a very basic standard. By shifting space around, Resonate was able to create a business lounge, which occupies the corner of the 6th floor, therefore benefiting from the amazing view of the Harrow Hills! Again, breakout space was provided in the central part of the working floor to allow the teams to collaborate and get together both over a sandwich but also for impromptu meetings. The teams were previously located in two separate buildings and are now consolidated into one building.
And from what we hear, both workspaces are polling pretty high among Ipsos MORI’s staff. We can see why.