London really is a city of first-world extremes. Just half an hour ago we were surrounded by the monolithic towers of the City. Now we find ourselves entering a peaceful wharf, in a serene part of west London.
Gentrification is clearly the word on the street in this borough, with smart independent coffee shops standing alongside craft shops and designer baby wear boutiques. The grand houses here have received sensitive facelifts and even the road surface itself is getting a make over.
In fact, if we didn’t know why we were here, we’d be quite surprised to find – just hidden from the main room – an impressive, modern little business park. We’d be even more surprised to learn that one of the residents is amongst the coolest emerging brands around.
Deezer is a leading global music streaming service. It allows users to listen to music content from record labels including EMI, Sony, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group on various devices online or offline.
Available in more than 180 countries worldwide, Deezer gives instant access to the largest global music streaming catalogue on any device. Deezer is the only music streaming service with Flow, the unique mix of all your old favourites and new recommendations in one ever-changing stream. Based on an intuitive, proprietary algorithm and created by people who love music, it’s the only place to hear all your music back-to-back with fresh discoveries tailored to you.
Making music happen since 2007, Deezer is a privately-held company, headquartered in Paris, with offices in London, Berlin, Miami and around the world. All in under a decade!
We are met outside the new Deezer London HQ by Winkworth Interiors’ Ashley Winkworth and Karen Fox, who were responsible for the dramatic transformation of the facility here.
Ashley tells us that Winkworth Interiors has itself achieved huge success for more than a decade. Its carefully selected team designs and builds impressive office interiors, a number of which have been nominated for prestigious design awards. Ashley puts this down to a simple formula: ‘A management team consisting of highly intelligent personnel with broad commercial experience who understand the fit-out process and how projects are put together,’ he tells us. ‘Having a genuine underlying empathy with your client is an important asset when providing the right solution.
‘Ultimately an office is a platform for carrying out ones business and thereafter attracting and retaining staff for the purpose of a profitable outcome. Get this right and it sets a platform for a successful business.’
Winkworth Interiors operates in a broad but important sector. ‘The area where the client wants high design, utilising some of the most current and best interior design but value engineered to align the end product with the client’s budget.
‘This is what defines Winkworth Interiors and the results speak for themselves when you look at the end product delivered and the high level of repeat business.’
‘Deezer are really on the radar over here now – especially now they are advertising on TV on Saturday night,’ Ashley explains as we walk to the front door. ‘I think their image is probably a bit cooler, a bit more off the wall than the other music download companies out there and the UK has become a real focus for them.
‘What we were tasked with doing was in many ways working with a standard client brief – we want to produce this wonderful space here, but we don’t really want to spend any money, well we do, but we don’t! So we find that line in the middle – the best job you can for the money.’
‘There are now about 50 people working out of here,’ Karen tells us as we make our way into the space. ‘It was originally quite industrial – and then the landlord decided to take all the industrial elements out of the building and refurb it into a modern office. To be honest, it took all the character out of it. One of the things we wanted to do was to put the character back in, and we’ve tried to do that on a limited budget.’
‘I think the job itself is absolutely great,’ Ashley enthuses. ‘It’s still got suspended ceilings in it – which is a shame – but they are serving a function. We have created an industrial look using black metal framed partitioning, laid a great floor throughout that replicates highly weathered oak floorboards – we wanted to move away from carpet, as many clients are currently doing – and we’ve included exposed brickwork on the walls to complete the look. The lighting, which was less than adequate, was supplemented with a high impact, low cost scheme throughout, which is massively important to the end result. We’ve addressed all these elements and then worked with Deezer to dress the space in a really cool, unique way.’
Ashley tells us that Deezer UK began life in nearby Shepherd’s Bush – a space that they still occupy and is currently home to the company’s customer services team, while this new building is now home to the creative side of the business as well as being the UK headquarters.
Upon entering the space, the very first thing we notice is the brilliant Marshall amps wallpaper which, we’re told, was incredibly difficult to get hold of and can only be used under license by Marshall themselves. It was well worth the hassle though as this fit-out is all about impact!
‘The building incorporates a ground floor main office and then we have a mezzanine floor above. The idea is, because this is a European operation, you’ve got a lot of European executives flying in and out. So we have given them a meeting area here and different desk set ups, sub-divided into different functions, and then you have a series of meeting spaces and offices upstairs, which enable these guys to come and set themselves up.’
We take a peek inside the meeting room just to the right of the entrance, where large-scale graphics of a concert crowd cover the entire far wall. Despite the lack of natural light, wall wash lighting illuminates the space perfectly, while the furniture is suitably non-corporate. We particularly like the dark timber table from Task here.
‘We really pushed with the lighting,’ Ashley continues. ‘It might work fine here with normal lighting in August or September – but it will be a different story in November or December’.
‘Fresh air ventilation was also a bit of an issue as some of the new rooms do not have opening windows – so we’ve run metal ductwork along the space and through to the upstairs, which adds to the industrial look.
‘This meant we had to be cost-effective with the furniture,’ Karen adds as we move through to the main working space. ‘We worked closely with Task to develop the tables, where we’re able to supply one unit for four people rather than four individual desks, making it very cost effective. They look quite cool actually – there are fewer lines, they’re not broken up, there’s just one continuous surface making it aesthetically streamlined.’
‘The nice thing about working with Task is that they are incredibly flexible,’ Ashley tells us. ‘This really helps us create highly individualised solutions both in looks and performance and cost competitiveness. Task wins hands down time after time.’
Walking through the ground floor space we pass an antique-styled industrial desk, which acts as the reception desk (and has amazing lights suspended from metallic plumbing gauge pipework above it). We also find funky, lifestyle images on the walls and two more amazing meeting rooms – the aptly named Yellow and Blue rooms, which each boast carefully curated record cover artworks to match the colour schemes. We’re pleasantly surprised by how many of the albums we own!
And it’s not too long before we’re surprised once again. Heading up the stairs to the mezzanine, we find a bright and brilliant space featuring a series of meeting rooms /private spaces, together with a bright red coffee bar and generous breakout space. As we wander through, we’re told that one of the meeting rooms here doubles as the boardroom, and boasts the very latest technology, including a twin-screen Cisco videoconference system
We take a seat in the breakout space and are joined by Christian Harris, Deezer’s VP Northern Europe, who’s clearly a happy client. ‘We work with a lot of partners from a lot of different sectors – generally well established sectors like telecoms – and they like to come to a place that’s a bit more media, a bit more music and a bit less corporate. This gives a really good brand impression for us – which wasn’t the case with our old office. That’s why we wanted to make a real effort with this space.
‘We work closely with the record labels – they are the main providers of the music that we offer. We try to present ourselves as a bit different – certainly different from our main competitors – and you can see that from our adverts and also the look and feel of our working environment. We also need that different workspace from a staff retention point of view. This is a very competitive market and we need an environment where people want to come and work on a daily basis. It’s not enough – especially here in London – just to offer someone a decent salary and an interesting role – you have to think about the entire package, including the workspace.
‘Attraction and retention of good people is incredibly important to us. We’re a massive producer of music and a massive consumer of music – and we’re looking to capitalise on that. We needed an office that reflects this – and I think we now have one!’