Retail design agency, Office Twelve, has just completed its new UK creative studio headquarters in Leicester. As a company with over 40 people based in the UK and Amsterdam, it was a huge project and an opportunity for the creative team to flex its spatial and 3D skills – the same skills that they bring to global brand clients in the retail arena.
The result is a dynamic, open space culture of collaboration and inclusion with room to explore, discover, build and play. We spoke to associate creative director, Julian Collinge, who masterminded the entire project, about the new office and enjoyed a personal tour.
Can you describe your new workspace
"It’s intimate, colourful, inspirational and filled with natural light which we manipulate with blackout blinds that allow for a controlled environment in a glass building. Our previous UK office was in a very rural location surrounded by fields. Moving to a city location we wanted to bring some of that with us, hence the graphic treatments inspired by nature. As the sun moves in the afternoon, a softer light comes flooding through coloured panels. It’s really beautiful.
"Everything has been designed around the people who work here. Generous desking, flexible spaces and state of the art technology sit alongside comfortable furniture, soft lighting and a carefully considered colour palette.
"The entire space has a perfect, logical flow that feels completely effortless."
What do you love most about your space?
"A successful creative environment should nurture every individual and there is a wonderful buzz around the studio. Everybody here is a creative thinker – designers, technicians, production and client services. Creatives are the people who often felt out of place as kids, and I wanted everyone to feel like they were coming to a home from home.
"Although Office Twelve functions as a finely-tuned team, we are firmly embedded in the principles of individual personal relationships. I consider this agency as a big family, and my primary goal as the founder is to ensure that everyone here is happy. Their working environment is an integral part of that happiness, and they’re fantastic people who deserve the very best. It’s a huge contributory factor to producing great work."
Are there any particular features that stand out and make agency life easier?
"Around 40% of the building is devoted to flexible social spaces so people come together throughout the day in an entirely natural manner. The huge kitchen diner is reflective of the way we live now – eating, working and socialising through a series of unwalled zones.
"The use of glass within the open plan environment means that even when closed room meetings are going on, we can all see each other. That in itself brings huge efficiencies and a constant sense of inclusion.
"Generous spaces allow people to choose where and how they work. A series of standing desks through the main studio encourages collaboration where ideas are left open for anyone to pull up and join in. Small groups or individuals can take themselves off to an intimate pod and cocoon themselves away, or gather around one of the many soft seating areas. It’s a far less restrained way of working and has had a markedly positive impact on all of us."
Any favourite bits of furniture, accessories or areas that you love? Can you tell us a story behind them?
"Call me sentimental, but the pool table in the diner was a gift to me from my wife 15 years ago. That table has seen some action over the years and brought a lot of fun into the house. It’s great to see everyone enjoying it with no idea of where it came from or what its history is. And it never fails to bring a smile to my face whenever I hear a huge cry go up over a missed shot."
Tell us more about the local creative scene
"With our other office in Amsterdam, we have a lot to live up to. Leicester is a wonderful, multi-cultural city, but it’s not a patch on Amsterdam, one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. We take influence from that by celebrating the creative process and encouraging open collaboration and a sense of freedom in the way we work.
"Quite a few of the team regularly switch between the UK and the Netherlands. We have the better office in the UK, but they undoubtedly have the better creative scene in Amsterdam."