The Big Question

What is the strangest thing you have come a cross in a workplace?

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ANGELA BARDINO, HEAD OF INTERIOR DESIGN, GRIMSHAW

I was once asked to work an entire space for a client around a very large rice cooker. It was about 3ft tall. I could never find an explanation for why the whole of the kitchen space was designed around this rice cooker – it was really bizarre!

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STEVE TAYLOR, PROJECT DIRECTOR, PELDON ROSE

The weirdest thing I’ve seen in an office was, while working with a major investment bank, the owner – who was a wonderfully eccentric individual – had a cupboard full of voice changing Star Wars character masks. Apparently, he made sure that every new member of staff would wear one of these for at least half a day!

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MARIA CHEUNG, HEAD OF INTERIOR DESIGN, SQUIRE AND PARTNERS

When we moved into our own office – The Department Store in Brixton – we found a stuffed duck whilst we were trying to set everything up and put the furniture into place. We had no idea where it had come from. Eventually, our boss in and said, ‘Oh, I bought it. We were talking about ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ – because there is an upstairs bar and a downstairs facility – the whole goosey goosey gander thing’!

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JOHN AVERY, DIRECTOR, LOM

Last year I discovered a stash of valuable and (I think) quite historically important 19th century oil paintings in a disused executive shower. I won’t tell you where these were, but it was certainly quite a discovery – one of them was 8ft tall!

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TRINA MARSHALL, PRINCIPAL, HOK

I was going to say that almost anything goes nowadays – so very little strikes me as odd. On a personal level though, while working with a large global technology client, I became aware that, after lunch, everybody would go and sleep under their desk. They had all bought in their own pillows and duvets. This was routine – and here in the UK!

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JON RACE, MD, MCM

One that really comes to mind was on one of our projects abroad, where smoking in the office is still permitted. This very high-flying senior exec – who was a heavy smoker – had an anteroom to his palatial executive suite, where he could shower and sleep etc, and in there was a treadmill complete with a customised ashtray!