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A Memphis-inspired workplace from Modus

Modus has recently completed the large-scale fit-out for their client in the heart of London, influenced by travel and the colourful boldness of the Memphis Group.

06/05/2020 3 min read

One of the world’s leading travel companies, Travelfusion was ready to execute the next stage of its growth strategy – including a visual reimagining of its brand within 70 St Mary Axe.

Moshe Rafia, CEO of Travelfusion, knew that moving the company’s headquarters into this prominent location meant the design needed to be suitably ambitious and visually arresting. As Travelfusion has built a reputation as an industry game-changer that does things differently, Moshe wanted this to be reflected in the design. To realise this vision, Moshe enlisted the help of project manager and VARdesign founder Elli Vardy, who worked alongside Modus to develop and new design concept.

Travelfusion, Modus

In order to create a space to reflect Travelfusion’s progressive culture, Elli and Modus balanced two themes – travel (of course!) and the Memphis design movement. The colourful and vibrant styling of the 1980s Italian movement was originally a reaction against the status quo, fitting for the forward-thinking culture of the client. Falling out of favour with the minimalism of the 90s, Memphis seems to be back in vogue in recent years, and is combined here with travel-themed elements, resulting in a unique and contemporary design. Balancing the two was a fun yet challenging task, Modus tell us – to ultimately create a space to impress.

The patterned ceramic tiles, angular wall prints, striking printed fabrics and luxurious terrazzo-effect flooring all owe their inclusion to the Memphis revival,’ said the Modus team. ‘The kitsch breakout area furniture underpins the theme without tarnishing the space’s contemporary edge, while a suitably varied colour scheme pervades through the space.’

The colourful and vibrant styling of the 1980s Italian movement was originally a reaction against the status quo, fitting for the forward-thinking culture of the client.

In addition to Elli and the designers, Modus’s graphic design team played in a key role in achieving Moshe’s vision. To reflect the travel theme, they created arrow graphics for the concrete flooring – simultaneously creating a circulation route between different areas of the office and giving the impression of a tarmac airport runway. Wayfinding wall signs were also created with icons to accompany the circulation route, inspired by authentic British Airport Authority signage.

As Travelfusion values communication and teamwork, Moshe wanted the design to imbue a buzzing atmosphere and support collaboration. To achieve this, Modus opted for an expansive open-plan layout combined with multiple meeting rooms. The shared desks foster a team-led, egalitarian environment, while the meetings rooms offer extra spaces for private conversations and creative collaboration.

Interestingly, another key aspect of the layout design was its direction to the sun. Instead of designing the layout in line with the existing floorplate, Modus shifted the perspective by creating a space that faces true north – an innovative design decision that reflects Travelfusion’s progressive ethos and brings the bold, colourful Memphis aesthetic to life.

Environmental impact

‘Moshe was adamant that he didn’t want to create any unnecessary waste in the fit out of the new space. With this in mind, wecatalogued all of the furniture and living plants that Travelfusion had in their existing space,’ Modus tell us. ‘The team then worked to incorporate as much as possible into the design, ensuring maximum usage.’ Not wanting to throw away perfectly good furniture, Modus introduced their CSR partner Business2Schools – giving Travelfusion the opportunity to donate the surplus furniture to the rehoming program run by B2S that delivers the furniture to schools around the UK.

To reduce the purchase of new collaboration and brainstorming equipment, the design made use of the existing metal riser doors, which were covered with writeable paint, automatically making them a magnetic surface too. The design also utilised Tarkett – Street Tracks carpet, which meets high environmental and sustainability standards.

The resounding feedback has been a sense of awe, pride and wonderment when showing people around the space.

Support of HR attraction and retention strategies

‘Since moving to 70 St Mary Axe, the team have commented that they feel privileged to work in such a beautiful, bright, well-appointed space that is infused with light and colour. The resounding feedback has been a sense of awe, pride and wonderment when showing people around the space,’ said Modus.

‘Travelfusion has always put their people first and it’s instantly recognisable. The open plan design, supports the culture of collaboration, focusing on connecting team members and driving engagement through positive interactions in the various meeting zones. Valuing communication and teamwork, it was a conscious decision not to include offices for senior management.  The goal of their transformation was to create a vibrant space that enhances the health, wellness and productivity of their team. Reinforcing the feeling that they are a part of an exceptional, dynamic business.’

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