Drinks giant Diageo has turned office space into outer space in a corporate fit-out so futuristic nobody else has got there yet. Must be all that Smirnoff …
A drinks corporation headquarters is an unlikely place to find this space-age "experience pod". But it's just one part of the innovative fit-out of Diageo's new Great Britain and Africa offices in north-west London. The 160,000 ft2 project took two-and-a-half years to complete, at a rough cost of £95/ft2.

"I've had licence to do things I wouldn't normally be able to do on a corporate fit-out," says Rosalind Jones, interior designer with Aukett. As an example she cites the pod – an ultra-futuristic space with high-tech video and audio equipment used to educate visitors about the "personality" of each of Diageo's six main brands: Guinness, Smirnoff, Archers, Baileys, Gordons and Johnnie Walker.

"It was originally planned as a heritage centre, but the company decided that they wanted it to look at the future, and not reflect too much on the past," Jones explains. "I wanted it to be a bit like a spaceship - a white backdrop, neutral, when not in use. When a video is showing, the lighting changes to reflect what's on the screen."

Other unusual features in the building include a stylish bar and 16 themed meeting rooms, one for each of Diageo's brands. Branding is key to the whole fit-out, but the client wanted to avoid obvious and predictable tie-ins, Jones says. "Diageo wanted longevity in the building design, so that changes in the products' logos and adverts, and new brands being acquired won't make the building out of date. So the branding is quite subtle - it's about how you use materials and furniture to be evocative of the brand in a timeless way."