A little further on, it forms itself into a reception desk.
This wacky interior has just been described as one of "the UK's most exciting and inspirational places to work" in a survey by The Times and Gestetner, an office technology company, and it comes as rather a surprise in an unprepossessing 1980s office building in south London – which, of course, was the point. "Advertising is a creative industry, and the client wanted something that was fun," says Kathryn Findlay, partner in Ushida Findlay. "So I designed a system of organic geometry that flows through the space." As well as its practical uses, the 450 mm wide ribbon leaves the reception space open so as to make the most of the views out to the Thames and Battersea Bridge.
Established in Japan, Ushida Findlay is now a London-based practice, and was featured in the Architecture Foundation's recent guide to Britain's most promising young architectural practices, New Architects 2. By adopting cheap materials such as mild steel, PVCu, rubber, painted floors and laminated mdf, and using them in imaginative ways, the practice has been able to stretch a limited budget. In fact, the firm was able to improve the existing open-plan offices and other spaces at a cost of £26/m2, or £1.1m all told. Orange laminated desks, purpose-designed in a crescent shape, can be used singly or paired together. Meeting rooms are partitioned off by simple shower curtains.
Cheap materials and the pervading sense of fun come together in the plastic seat pads in the reception. "At first we thought of stuffing the pads with medical jelly, but that was too expensive," says Findlay. "So in the end we used Rowntrees' fruit jelly."
The seat pads are indeed orange, strawberry and blackcurrant in colour, and they exude a faint fragrance to match.
client Claydon Heeley architect Ushida Findlay services engineer Fulcrum Consulting quantity surveyor Mike Porter Associates main contractor Interior