ΓÇ£BlingteriorsΓÇ¥ Trend Brings Luxury to Serviced Offices
Ultra creative, luxury office space is no longer restricted to corporate giants with gigantic design budgets. Business centres are hiring the designers behind GoogleΓÇÖs offices to style their space; theyΓÇÖre curating their own art collections; theyΓÇÖre taking a creative approach to d├⌐cor. We explore the rise of ΓÇ£blingteriorsΓÇ¥ in the serviced office industry.
The rise of the serviced office blingteriors
The Estates Gazette recently coined a phrase for this phenomenon ΓÇô ΓÇ£blingteriorsΓÇ¥. In the article, David Thame points to Office Space in TownΓÇÖs Alice in Wonderland offices as an example of this trend. Designed by Peldon Rose, whose previous projects have included offices for both Google and Friends of the Earth, the business centre is a seriously statement-making space: teapots hang suspended from ceilings, faux topiary archways frame the business lounge, and a series of themed meeting rooms take tenants and their visitors on an adventure into the imagination of Lewis Carroll.
While clearly not for wallflowers, the centre has garnered just as much interest from would-be tenants as from the media. Office Space in Town announced a 98% occupancy rate for the centre last month ΓÇô just three months after opening.
Office Space in Town may have the only workspace Wonderland complete with Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but theyΓÇÖre not the only serviced office company launching carefully ΓÇô and creatively ΓÇô themed space.
Take Ventia as an example. The London-based company provides boutique business centres, but recent additions to their portfolio have raised the bar with the addition of strikingly themed space.
Their business centre in Clerkenwell, which launched last year, is styled around a forest theme to create a welcoming environment. The result is a Narnia-eque space: stag murals adorn the walls of snug areas while a snow scene acts as the backdrop to a space which looks like an ice cavern ΓÇô albeit a very cosy one.
The design came about partly as a response to the challenges of working within a Georgian building, as Susannah Baker, interior designer for Ventia explains: ΓÇ£My inspiration for the theme came from the two basement rooms. I wanted to transform them into an informal meeting space but was aware of their size and that windows were not an option. I wanted to create a warmth and a depth to the space that would invite you in, but not crowd you.ΓÇ¥
Temporary offices become long-term solutions
VentiaΓÇÖs creative approach is ideally suited to the kinds of media, creative and tech companies which call Clerkenwell home.
But itΓÇÖs not just media and creative agencies which are attracted to design-led space. Serviced office provider Landmark Plc, which operates five centres across Central London, specialises in providing designer space which appeals to corporate clients. The tone is more sober (there are no giant rabbits or oversized playing cards), but the interiors are just as impressive.
Last month, the company announced a 92% retention rate among its client base; clear proof that their approach to office presentation is producing highly desirable space.
As Richard Gill, Landmark PlcΓÇÖs managing director, says: ΓÇ£Our design approach has always been to create an immediate impact on the client from the moment they walk into one of our centres. They are genuinely extremely positive about the surroundings, with majority of our viewing feedback stating ΓÇÿinspiredΓÇÖΓÇ¥.
In addition to the designer furnishings, Landmark also owns a 400-piece collection of art and antique toys, a selection of which is displayed within its business centres. The artwork within a given office is normally changed when new tenants move in. This attention to detail coupled with a commitment to continually refreshing the interiors is a key differentiation point for the Landmark brand and an important part of the package which encourages their clients to stay.
Indeed, while serviced space may offer short-term licence agreements, high-end options like those offered by Landmark feel anything but temporary.
Style with a serious purpose
WeΓÇÖve already seen the backlash over Google-style offices in the media; so what about those who believe that blingteriors are a case of style over substance?
As Jitesh Patel, CEO of Peldon Rose reminds us, the starting point for all such projects is a high quality working environment: ΓÇ£The building has to be functional first, and then the ΓÇÿblingteriorΓÇÖ added like a fa├ºade.┬á Although potential occupiers are attracted by themed spaces, the functionality of the space in terms of cooling, ventilation, break out spaces, bike stores, etc. all have to work first.ΓÇ¥
That ΓÇ£fa├ºadeΓÇ¥ serves a serious purpose too, from staff recruitment and retention to brand messaging. officebroker CEO Chris Meredith makes the case for blingteriors in the capital:
ΓÇ£London might have a huge talent pool, but itΓÇÖs still a highly competitive market for top talent and those employees have certain expectations about how their working environment should look and feel. The physical working environment is becoming increasingly important for attracting and retaining the right talent, as well as setting standards of behaviour and driving culture.ΓÇ¥
Furthermore, the increasing emphasis on high-end design within the serviced sector means more opportunities for businesses to find a space which aligns with their brand. For some, that might mean a colourfully furnished space with a bold theme, while for others itΓÇÖs about understated luxury.
Blingteriors ΓÇô limited to London?
For now, the majority of these designer spaces can be found in London, where serviced offices command premium rates and there is significant demand for high-end space.
Will we see this trend filter out to the major cities? Both Manchester and Bristol have some notably design-conscious space already, while The Office Group, which has built up a reputation for quirky space, is set to open a business centre in Leeds. This will be only the second time the company has ventured outside London with its distinctive design-led approach.
One thing is clear: everyone we spoke to agrees that the blingteriors trend is here to stay. officebrokerΓÇÖs Chris Meredith neatly sums up the overarching reason why: ΓÇ£It tells people ΓÇÿweΓÇÖre not a white-wall, square-box kind of company.ΓÇÖΓÇ¥
And who, after all, wants their business to be bland?
Blingteriors ΓÇô passing fad or here to stay? Let us know what you think in the comments below.