Strong working relationships are crucial in the design and architecture world, as trust and understanding serve as the fundamental building block of any project. The new Clyde & Co workplace in Sydney is certainly one project that has successfully evolved out of the long-standing and fruitful relationship between the client, DesignInc interior designer David Taylor and construction group SHAPE.
“This is the sixth Clyde & Co office we have worked on since 2012 and we’ve slowly developed the brief based on lessons learnt,” David says.
Clyde & Co is a global law firm with headquarters in London and offices around the world. The firm established its first Australian office in Sydney in 2012, followed by Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. David has worked on the design of all Clyde & Co’s Australian offices, including two others in Sydney as the size of its operations have increased. It’s newest workplace, spread across five floors of 333 George Street, accommodates up to 270 people with room for growth, and is designed to draw attention to the furnishings, artworks and view, rather than the fabric of the building.
The workplace is configured with offices and workstations on levels 9, 10, 11 and 12; training rooms, a video conferencing room and a staff café on level 12; and reception, client waiting area and meeting rooms on level 15. At 400 square metres, level 15 has a smaller floorplate than its lower counterparts, however a wraparound terrace offers outdoor space and views across to the GPO building, and operable walls allow for flexible space to accommodate client functions and training events.
The client took a traditional law-firm approach to the workplace layout with offices configured around the perimeter of the floorplate and work stations for secretarial and support staff set within. Despite this arrangement there is no lack of light or sense of spaciousness. “We needed to make sure the office walls were as transparent as possible so as not to obstruct the external view and natural light source, so we used a lot of glass,” David explains. “The result is an open and welcoming space with good access to light.”
The level 15 reception flooring, which looks like polished concrete, is an applied finish laid 15 millimetres thick and grinded back to 10 millimetres. This is combined with an inlaid rug that consists of two types of pile to cater for two different functions: coral cut pile in the waiting area where it needs to be more hardwearing, and loop pile around the reception desk where it should feel more like carpet. In the staff café, the black and white rug with geometric patterning is designed to give the space “more funkiness,” David says.
There is an elliptical baffle ceiling in the reception area, and black Zintra acoustic panels and perforated panels to add dimension to the ceiling of the staff café. All lighting is concealed behind the ceiling panels to keep work and training areas as uncluttered as possible.
David’s approach to the furniture reflects the Clyde & Co brand: modern, relaxed and unpretentious. Forms and materials hark back to the clean, organic lines of the mid-century classics giving warmth, comfort and tactility to the space. You’ll find Walter Knoll’s Andoo armchairs in the reception waiting area; Ritzwell’s walnut-framed chairs in the lounge-like meeting room; and the Neos cantilever chair and Wilkhahn F6 cantilever chair in meeting and training rooms. In the café, Walter Knoll’s 369 bucket-seat chair is paired with COR’s Shrimp Armchair in vibrant orange.
Artworks also played an important role in the design, as the former managing partner was also an artist and the firm is a strong supporter of the arts. “We had to create a backdrop for the artwork,” David says, “so there’s not a big emphasis on over detailing in order for it to act more like a gallery space.” Clyde & Co sources the artworks from local art schools, regularly changing them and hosting evenings to sell them.
The success of Clyde & Co’s newest Australian office comes from the strong collaborative relationship between the client, design team and builders. “We’re creating environments that keep getting more and more in tune with who Clyde & Co is and how they work,” David says. “And we’re doing something that they feel comfortable working in, which is the most important part of designing a workplace.”
To celebrate the completion of the build and fit out, David barbequed a three-course dinner on Clyde & Co’s balcony for the design team, client, project managers and builders, serving up cured duck, smoked salmon, cured beef, marinated chicken, vegetarian kebabs and salad. You’ve got to be in it to win it!