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Inside Fruit Towers: Innocent’s London HQ

Global juice company innocent needed their London HQto reflect the company’s growth and changes in its European operations since the building was first occupied in 2011.

31/07/2020 4 min read

Project Team

  • Client

    Innocent Smoothies

  • Design Consultants

    Wylde Interior Architecture & MONTROC Consulting

  • Furniture suppliers

    Connection

  • Other Suppliers

    Artworks Solutions

Innocent worked with a collective comprising  MONTROC ConsultingWyldeIADice Workplace Interiors and GEMCO. Together, the team designed a concept of a new Fruit Towers with a selection of spaces for specific activities to encourage the company to be more agile and flexible, creating an environment that enables fast-paced business whilst fostering the sense of community that is at the core of innocent’s company values.

Innocent were already using an unusual team arrangement when MONTROC and Wylde IA were appointed. Affectionately known as ‘deskies’, everyone at innocent is allocated to their own desk community rather than the traditional arrangement by department or function. Adopting this principle, MONTROC and Wylde IA helped innocent to boldly reduce desk numbers. Four floors of densely packed desks were transformed into clear agile workspaces.

The reduction in desk numbers made space for collaboration and independent working positions across each floor. The three floors were reorganised to improve desk spacing, which enabled Wylde IA to design a space providing numerous alternative places to work and collaborate.

‘Carrying out an in-situ refurbishment at the same time as changing a space that innocent felt was almost – but not quite – right was a tricky undertaking,’ says Tracey Wylde, Director at Wylde IA. ‘This was a re-tuning exercise on a big scale and a true leap of faith for the client.’

The client wanted to move away from the traditional office set-up of individually assigned desks and bookable meeting rooms, to reflect changing working practices and pressure on desk and meeting space.  They spent time gathering input from the entire London team of 300 people in order to develop ideas to evolve the company’s ways of working. Feedback from the team found that staff wanted more variety in the types of space available.

Twenty ‘Change Champions’ were selected by the People Team, by discipline or ‘deskie’ community, to represent the workforce. The job of the change champions was to engage with the project and play a vital role in discussions around the development of the new ways of working – which was then fed back to their communities to ensure good communication across the company. This worked exceptionally well, allowing Wylde IA to re-tune the layout of each area in response to the feedback.

A wide selection of Connection furniture was specified for agile working, including Rooms freestanding structures furnished with TV screens, and centro tables and benches dotted throughout to provide practical spaces to meet, collaborate and spread out work. Multiple spaces for informal meetings are defined by a variety of Dixi wing back chairs, Mae low and high back chairs, all upholstered in innocent-worthy colours, completed by Omni and Flow coffee tables.

‘Innocent are committed to sustainability in all aspects of their business. One of their key strap lines is, ‘Here at innocent, we want to leave things better than we find them.’ As the project developed, we spent significant time discussing sustainability and credentials of manufacturers and suppliers,’ says Tracey.

The area that was difficult to compromise on was task seating. In order to operate a successful agile environment, one of the key elements is, of course, the task chair – it must be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ and easy to adjust as people constantly move around the office sitting in different places. ‘Innocent had a whole building’s worth of high-quality chairs that were exceptionally difficult to adjust. After a lot of discussion, they embarked upon the exercise of selling them to other companies with the proceeds going towards the purchase of new chairs specifically designed for agile working areas,’ says Tracey.

‘In relatively small floor plates, it’s easy to degenerate into a jumble of products, people and asymmetric views across the floors and to the outside world. We devised a method for landscaping each floor using three-dimensional furniture elements, working with their chosen AstroTurf brand, which innocent felt was central to their culture,’ says Tracey. ‘We introduced vibrant acoustic horizontal ceiling and vertical hanging panels, together with a change in floor finish to accentuate and hold in place the new elements.’

The result is a stunning office environment that encourages collaboration, where employees have adapted extremely well to the changes in their ways of working. New spaces are now being used for catch-ups, decongesting the meeting room booking system, with video calls taking place in areas that are free of disruption.

‘We have always been acutely aware that our environment is a big cog in shaping our culture. We use it to nurture community, foster a transparent and communicative culture, and ensure we have fun whilst working hard – so ever since we starting selling smoothies in 1999, we’ve had a great place to work that has naturally evolved over time,’ says David McKay, Head of Culture at Innocent Drinks.

‘Whilst Fruit Towers reflected our brand really well and was a pretty decent place to come to every day, one thing we hadn’t evolved was the traditional set up of the building: (individually assigned) desks everywhere and bookable meeting rooms. The result of this is over time is that desks attract clutter and remain largely unused whilst people are in rooms (that you no doubt have to book 2 weeks in advance after asking various people to shuffle rooms).’

Wylde IA were able to focus on the flow and design of each floor to support the requirements discovered during the change consultation process. Everyone supported the need for quiet individual positions, collaboration and non-bookable meeting spaces in a variety of different settings, without losing the visual connectivity across each floor.

‘Everyone supported the need for quiet individual positions, collaboration and non-bookable meeting spaces in a variety of different settings, without losing the visual connectivity across each floor,’ says Tracey. ‘It’s clear to see how the integrity of innocent, and their absolute refusal to compromise or stray from their values, has enriched and inspired the change management and design process to achieve the best possible outcome.’

Photography by Nick Smith and Marek Sikora

Innocent Fruit Towers from Wylde IA is a finalist for Project of the Year, Workplace Interiors at the Mixology20 Awards.

See the full list here.

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