The Office Group (TOG) is a London-based firm whose mission is to turn the traditional concept of “serviced offices” on its head. Their goal: use design to create simple and flexible work environments that cater to a variety of work styles and facilitate productivity. Their latest location is in an impressive Georgian townhouse in the heart of London’s West End.
As a protected listed building, the design had to preserve much of the original fabric and features, while also incorporating the technology required for agile and mobile working. TOG enlisted architects Wells Mackereth to tackle the project.
The result is a mix of historical and modern style that is a tribute to both TOG’s progressive work concepts and the unique history of the townhouse.
Wells Mackereth first restored original elements of the building, such as a grand staircase. From there, they worked to carefully introduce more modern elements that create a distinctive first impression, such as TOG’s emblematic Anglepoise lamp and signature moped.
Removal of several walls improved fluidity, while specialized spaces, such as the drop-in working spaces called “ClubRooms,” provided a functional logic to the space.
Said TOG’s Co-CEO Charlie Green, “On the ground floor, The Quiet Room, The WorkRoom and The Lounge provide three totally separate spaces with different environments in each. This was the first time we’ve divided the spaces so concretely. The Euston office has a glass partition between the Lounge and The Workroom which allows a visual flow of activity, whereas our West End building seals this off and has a much larger Quiet Room. It was a bit of a gamble but the fact this difference is working so well highlights how important it is to know the industries and styles of working that will be happening in a particular area.”
The Georgian heritage and details of former resident, Martin Van Buren, provided the inspiration for the bespoke art scheme from art collective Acrylicize.
The centerpiece in the reception area is a classic portrait-style painting of the former U.S. president making the hand gesture to signify “OK” (he was believed to be the originator of the term).
Acrylicize echoed the ‘OK’ theme in mirrored acrylic pieces and giant traditional American red lettering lining the wall opposite the portrait, reflecting Van Buren’s very own slogan back to him.
Drawing on the traditional craft of pub mirriors, Acrylicize collaborated with graphic designer Alex Fowkes to create a mirror overlaid with a screen print referencing Disney’s, The Seven Dwarves — a reference both to hard work and the building’s street address.
Featuring the iconic ‘It’s off to work we go’ song lyric, the piece also incorporates pictorial elements from the story such as the dwarves’ mining tools and oil lamps.
A tongue-in-cheek ‘WORK HARD’ neon piece was also designed for a nearby breakout space, complimenting the surrounding art and playing on TOG’s laidback approach to the workspace.
Staff and visitors alike have expressed pride in their workspace, with clients lauding the combination of heritage architecture and contemporary design.