Amos and Amos have referenced London’s historic docks and warehouses for the interiors of new London offices designed for global ideas and innovation agency AKQA. Amos and Amos rose to the challenge of working with a client with exceptionally high standards and a willingness to take risks in order to achieve something original. The result is a richly layered and textured space where almost everything has been custom made – a unique working environment for AKQA in the world of often standardised office design.
Amos and Amos were commissioned by AKQA to refurbish the company’s second floor workspace on St John’s Lane, Clerkenwell. The brief was to create a space that is distinctive and exciting, while at the same time sophisticated and true to AKQA’s ethos. Noting that each of AKQA’s offices around the world is clearly linked to its location, Amos and Amos were determined that their design should be rooted in London – the city considered to be the home of AKQA – and offer longevity and adaptability alongside a clear sense of identity and place. The project takes its cues from historic docks and warehouses, and uses a rich palette of rough, gritty and utilitarian materials.
The offices accommodate a variety of purposes – from regular 9-5 working to late night projects or hosting clients. The space houses 176 members of staff in addition to conference rooms, private offices, project rooms, communal working areas, breakout spaces, kitchens and print rooms. Faced with this brief, Amos and Amos rejected a traditional office layout: their experience as a multidisciplinary agency allowed them to apply their luxury residential, retail and commercial design experience to produce an amalgamation of flexible, beautiful spaces with a large creative hub at the core. The resulting space encourages communication between and within teams, and recognises that creativity and dialogue flourish in informal as well as more formal spaces.
The 1500 sq.m floorplate comprises two wings arranged on either side of a steel column arcade. The arcade comprises 26 steel I beams with Georgian wired glass overhead, evoking a powerful industrial factory aesthetic. At the centre of the arcade sits the main feature of the space – a slatted hub comprised of seven rows of railway sleepers, stacked and separated by an intricate system of steel cotton reels. The timber ceilinged hub offers an environment that is at once intimate and transparent, with eight seating booths for up to six people and a concealed kitchen to the rear. On either side the arcade also contains four breakout spaces, a large communal table and high tables along the window elevation.
Four freestanding steel screens – at first glance reclaimed but in reality bespoke made for the project – are tied back to the reclaimed brick wall behind. These continue the industrial aesthetic while housing a series of workspaces, and separate the arcade from the spaces beyond. From the screens a black timber walkway leads to four conference rooms, accessed through concealed doors with oversized profile steel frames. These rooms have a deliberately residential feel: alongside state of the art conference and AV equipment, they contain bespoke tables, original mid-century sideboards and lighting pendants custom designed by Amos and Amos, set against a backdrop of metro tiles laid in a herringbone pattern and natural sisal flooring.
Moving through the walkway brings one into the main workspaces, here teams share 6.4m long custom designed workbenches, made from raw steel and timber tops to match the flooring. From these workspaces one can access the locker room, drying rooms, private office and project offices, as well as the staff kitchen, print rooms and server rooms.
Loose furniture aside, nothing is off the shelf. Amos and Amos designed bespoke workbenches, conference room and communal tables, as well as pendant lights and flooring. This comprises of 1,750 handmade and handpolished boards laid in a supersized herringbone pattern. 16 versions were sampled– an example of the extraordinary attention to detail and desire for a perfect aesthetic that characterises this project.
Furniture was sourced from over 40 manufacturers and purchased through 24 different suppliers. This varies from original design classic Ercol pieces, G plan sideboards and Arne Jacobsen pendants, to decorated British design talent such as Buster and Punch lighting, Bethan Grey tables, Dare Studio armchairs, to custom designed concrete high tables and AV cabinets. When the right light was unavailable, Amos and Amos designed a brass pendant to hang over the conference room tables.
Ajaz Ahmed, Founder and CEO of AKQA said: “Amos and Amos have created a soulful new home for our team in London. AKQA’s new space encourages collaboration, creativity and agility. It is a workspace where creativity abounds and represents the adaptive and flexible way in which our teams create.” Jaki Amos, Co-Founder of Amos and Amos said: “AKQA are a fantastic client and a pleasure to work with. Their clear brand values and willingness to embrace the unknown, alongside a clear understanding and appreciation of good design, have been critical to the success of this project. We have challenged each other to produce an exceptional working environment, and we are all very proud of the result.”
Photography by Marcus Peel Photography