align is a dynamic, innovative and award-winning interior architecture and design agency, co-founded by Directors Nigel Tresise and Gurvinder Khurana. Their offices are in Farringdon, on the edge of both the City of London and Clerkenwell and their work is both national and international.
The core offer of the business is all about aligning clients’ brands and businesses with environments crafted around real people’s wants and needs, seeking to balance brand expression with end-user ergonomics. Clients who work with align encounter a real service culture and willingness to listen, as well as a flexible and pragmatic attitude to design and delivery.
Their client base covers a wide spectrum of sectors including music, media, finance, law, technology, charity and the public sector. As a company they love this cross-fertilisation of influences and how it keeps the studio and its cosmopolitan team constantly open and creative.
Premier Construction spoke to align Director Gurvinder Khurana to find out more about the company.
Tell us a little bit about align. How did it all get started?
“We’ve been in operation as align for five years and we formed the company because we wanted to do business in a slightly different way. Our vision for align was all about creative collaboration. align is very much about absorbing the client team as part of the design team and validating the fact that everyone has an opinion. At the time, it’s also very much about making sure people are getting great value and a personal service.
“We are not a massive business but what we do have is fantastic technical knowledge and a real passion and flair for colour, materials and product, so when you bring those together, you have something that is really quite strong. That combination allows us to pitch against some of the bigger practices because we bring that both big practice-level experience and attitude but with a much smaller, personal service offering.”
What is it about Architecture and Interior Design that you like so much?
“If you look at what we do, the majority is workplace and I think what is really exciting with that is that when I started, it was a job that no one really wanted to do. However, workplace design has now become respected in the way it should. Great design can be achieved for workplaces because people recognise that the working environment really does affect you. That is why I love interior design. Fundamentally, it affects how you feel and I think you can sit in a space, anything from a coffee shop to an office to a bar or a restaurant, and it will affect you at an emotional level. Sometimes you aren’t aware of it.”
Is it specifically the workplace sector that you work in or do you work in other sectors too?
“Probably 80% of what we do is workplace, but we do have crossover and have also done residential, mixed use and some hospitality work. Our view is that you are a designer first, answering a brief and problem-solving, and that is about thinking laterally and creatively, which is what we wanted to do when we set up – challenge the creativity of the brief rather than being single-sector- based.”
What would you say have been some of your stand out projects over the years?
“Omeara is probably one of the big ones. Working on such a great a bar and music venue, with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons as a client, means that we have created something that everyone can experience and that is such an amazing feeling. We’re really proud of Omeara.
“I think BrandOpus is a project that really put us on the map back in 2012/2013. That was amazing in terms of being a standout project because it is unusual to get such a creative developer as Derwent London, who took notes, really listened and really took things on board.
“Mendeley was our first project with Reed Elsevier and it was great because the building had a sort of transformative ‘Madonna’ moment. We really enjoyed that project because it was really creative.
“Spark44 was a really challenging project because it pushed us to be creative within the confines of a base building. There were limitations because of the base build so we had to be creative from our perspective and for that project, we got to play with volume rather than just horizontal space.
“Our latest project is a great biophilic and agile working space for a financial services company in the heart of the City of London. This was a great project, with a very progressive people-centred culture but all the strictures of the financial world. Design is always very stimulating within such a definite framework.’’
What would you say you pride yourselves in as a company?
“We are really proud of our high levels of service and commitment and when you combine that with our technical expertise and our design confidence, you can see why we get to pitch against some of the bigger practices.”