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Retail design inspires J’adore Models HQ by Workshop Design Studio

The debut project from the multi-disciplinary practice finds its home in Manchester’s hip Ancoats area, showing the client’s continuing commitment to the fast-growing city.

22/11/2022 3 min read

Photography: Gunner Gu & Dan Hopkinson


Having outgrown its previous building, the core requirement of J’adore Models’ new workspace was to create an environment with a real ‘wow factor’ that would be on a par with the offices of the agency’s international retail clients. Both J’adore Models and Workshop Design Studio considered the move a unique opportunity to create an exceptional space to embody and amplify the brand and its values, as well as being a space people were excited to visit and work in – both enhancing staff wellbeing and helping the agency to continue to recruit the best talent, whether onto its team and onto its books.

“We looked primarily towards retail environments rather than other offices or showrooms for inspiration,” Workshop Design Studio’s founder Peter Milburn Brown commented, “and this shows in the end result through elements such as dark wall colours, retail-style track lighting and the inclusion of biophilic and set dressing elements.”

For the interior aesthetic, the brief called for a spacious and relaxed feel with a New York loft/industrial vibe, punctuated by natural interventions, from planting and timber to natural materials such as wicker and rattan.

The front-of-house was designed to be more of a co-working environment and creative café space, with background music always playing. The reception was to be high-impact and create a strong impression for visitors on arrival, whilst the space-planning had to incorporate areas to meet potential clients, interview rooms directly adjacent to the arrival and waiting area and an open kitchen as a central hub and to provide refreshments for visitors.

“We wanted to make sure people fell in love with the place instantly on arrival,” says Milburn Brown. “It needed to feel as if you’d come to a real destination; a relaxing place where you felt to belong straightaway, which is what the whole #JadoreFam agency is about. We spent many hours talking through and sketching potential layouts with the client to understand the processes required for a model agency’s front and back-of-house functions to get that all-important flow right from the outset. Only when the functionality was resolved, did we move onto the aesthetic look and feel.”

Visitors are met at a Scandinavian-inspired bespoke reception desk, which has a timber joinery front in vertical ash battens and was designed by Workshop Design Studio and manufactured by Carlick Furniture. All meeting rooms feature glazed walls with a Crittal-style, dark grey metal framework by Nash Glass. At the rear of the ground floor, directly behind the reception, is a kitchen-bar area for guest refreshments, with a seated island unit, whilst, directly above, a hanging shelf is made of industrial-style metal tubing and housing additional planting.

A highlight area of wall surface at the back of the bar is lined with alternately glossy and matt pink tiles from Casa Ceramica. Structural columns are painted a paler grey, whilst the flooring throughout is a Forbo Marmoleum Concrete with acoustic backing, offering the look of concrete, whilst also scoring highly in terms of sustainability and acoustic performance.

Workshop Design Studio removed the low ceilings with lay-in grid tiles as well as the surrounding poor-quality plasterboard, revealing huge-scale steel supports which fitted perfectly with the required industrial feel. A dusky pink concrete finish was used as a highlight colour on the main wall – which contains model portraits complementing the fuchsia pink signage – applied with a Venetian-style, brushed finish.

Furniture is deliberately mixed, both for an eclectic feel and to ensure any new pieces work well with two existing Chesterfields in deep olive green and burgundy, inherited from the agency’s previous office. These are joined by new items including caramel leather armchairs, a cast concrete coffee table, cane and rattan weave chairs and aged rugs in in faded, contemporary colours from Woven’s Louis De Poortere collection.

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