Photobox Group, Europe’s leading digital consumer service for personalised products and gifts, and parent of the Photobox, Moonpig, Hofmann and posterXXL brands now resides in its state-of-the-art headquarters at Herbal House in Clerkenwell, London.
Working with London-based design and build firm Oktra, the personalisation group converted the historic former printworks and artists’ studios into a landmark 37,000 sq.ft offices at the heart of London’s creative and digital centre, showing a firm commitment to the UK as a technology and business hub by the Group, who’s four brands operate across fifteen markets.
Oktra and Photobox Group developed the office around an analysis of the company culture and ethos, planning an environment that supports collaborative and agile ways of working across the 400 employees located there.
Photobox Group opted to maintain and showcase the industrial roots of the site with exposed original concrete walls, pillars, ceilings and an original crane hanging over the reception contrasting with clean, modern and colourful design and furnishings throughout.
The four floors are colour-coded using the CMYK formula at the foundation of all print shops. These floors surround a vast industrial atrium as well as a dedicated events space viewable from anywhere in the HQ, which will be used for all-company meetings, knowledge-sharing events and meet-ups for the tech and creative industries in London.
Following the design of the Photobox Office, Oktra has been recognised as a 2019 finalist in the SBID Awards in the category of Office Design. They completed the development, design and Fitout of not only the office, but its services, such as the café. It was completed within 18 weeks.
An interview with Dominic Dugan of Oktra:
What did the project involve?
“It is a workspace for multiple companies all working under one roof with a common goal. One of the challenges of that was how do you define a brand, separate them, and celebrate them individually? We found that the answer was to understand them fully so they have a workspace that works for all of them. I think we’ve achieved that, based on the fact that it’s an amazing building, and also that the client really involved everyone before the design process. Before we got the brief we interviewed a lot of people who work there and held design workshops because we really wanted to understand what the client wanted to achieve with this relocation.”
What are the most significant features?
“As a designer you’re probably expecting me to talk about really cool looking things, but I’ve got to be honest, as much as I’m happy with the design, the significant feature for me was about the people in the space. Prior to this relocation there was a very negative opinion about the space our clients worked in, but that behaviour has completed changed in the new space. Now there is a very positive behaviour in the work place and part of that is because they’ve been brave enough to give up over 25% of their office space to an agile way of working, and that’s come about not just because of what we did, but from their ‘agile coaches’ and the way they worked with us to help develop the brief.
“Yes, it’s an office, but now people have changed the way they work and that’s because they wanted to collaborate better. We’re not the main reason, but we prevented it happening again with the new design – design is an enabler.”
What were the challenges?
“Enabling the team to work better together whilst changing the way they work. One of the client’s objectives was to attract talent, and now they’re using the building and design as intended they too.”
What does it mean for you to work on a project like this?
“It is hugely rewarding because it was a chance to work with a client who wanted to engage in the design process, ultimately for the greater good. Being up for the SBID awards also means it’s another level of recognition that defines why companies should involve the workforce as part of their ambition to build a more positive culture; if it improves their lives than I think the design has made a difference.
“Design definitely works but it can easily date. Good design is something that’s easily adaptable and can change to suit people. It’s intelligent design, it’s not high design and this project is something that was long term, will benefit the user and change their behaviour over time. I think that’s one of the biggest successes of the project.”