What does your office space say about you? How a place of work is furnished speaks volumes about a company and its people. Architecture and design writer Alyn Griffiths speaks to the experts at Workspace about the furniture that surrounds us.

The best office designers carefully source items that embody a company’s organisational culture, rather than heading straight to IKEA or an established office furniture supplier. Dodds & Shute is a design consultancy with a decade of industry experience working with architects and interior designers, based at Workspace’s Vox Studios.

“The most important thing for us is to know our client and understand what they want their furniture to say about their place of work,” says Creative Director, Nick Shute. “How do they want their clients to feel when they turn up for a meeting and how does it make their staff feel about working there?”

The trend for wacky workplaces that emerged as a result of the tech start-up boom in the early years of the millennium has been superseded by a more sophisticated approach to workplace design that promotes, comfort, flexible working and a homely feel. Slides and ping-pong tables have given way to lounge-like breakout areas and kitchens that function as key spaces for impromptu gatherings and conversations. “The workplace has become much more of a social landscape and, as such, needs to include spaces for all aspects of social interaction and existence,” says Liz Close of interior design studio Generate, based at Workspace’s HQ in Kennington Park.

 “If you want your teams to go above and beyond the nine-to-five, you should ensure they have the home comforts that support them in doing so.”

Inevitably, designers looking to create this homely feel in commercial spaces are increasingly turning to brands that specialise in residential products rather than traditional office furniture. When working on projects for start-ups or companies in industries such as marketing, graphic design or social media, Dodds & Shute likes to specify furniture and accessories that haven’t been used before in this sector. Choosing products from young design brands like Menu, and &tradition enables them to build environments that feel fresh and unique. 

CM Delta based at Grand Union Studios use this colour popping wall to showcase their clients

For the increasing number of small- or medium-sized creative agencies looking to design their own offices, striking a balance between affordability, style and flexible functionality is a key consideration.

When creative marketing and PR agency Grammatik at The Pill Box was looking to move to larger premises, furniture supplier Opendesk matched desks and storage systems from its range of locally made plywood products to the requirements of Grammatik’s workforce.

“When you have a new office and you want a look and feel that’s planned and not just thrown together, it’s hard to achieve without hiring an interior designer,” says Grammatik CEO, Ian Tomalin-Hall.

“If you want quality and something that really fits your needs, you have to go bespoke, and Opendesk is a great middle ground for growing businesses.”

Opendesk offers innovative designs such as its Breakout Table that can be used for stand-up mind mapping sessions, hot-desking, team meetings or lunches.

The team at Opendesk

Bespoke office solutions are increasingly seen as a vital part of a company’s identity, as well as a way to improve employee satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and staff retention. Furnishing these spaces requires a thorough understanding of an organisation’s character, combined with a knowledge of the design industry that goes beyond the standard office catalogues and interior design magazines. 

Output Group at The Record Hall use mood boards around the office to inspire

“An office space doesn’t need to be filled with the latest gimmicks or design fads to be a great place to work,” concludes Liz Close. “It’s about creating space that allows the people in it to unleash their full potential, which means offering much more than just a desk, chair and four walls.”

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