This is a place where people draw on the walls and sit in corners. But rather than being a nursery environment, it’s a grown-up office hoping to help its inhabitants and their clients imagine the future.
Fjord London was bursting at the seams at its Fitzrovia address: two Georgian terraces knocked together to form 500sq m. And, with its lease coming up, it was time for the design and innovation consultancy to relocate. When its parent company Accenture bought Karmarama in 2016, it was noted that there was an office in the independent creative agency’s Farringdon building that would suit Fjord.
The third floor, which is a split-level floorplate, is double the size of Fjord’s previous home. But size isn’t everything, and the existing 1980s-style interior left a lot to be desired. “It had basic carpets and lights, a low ceiling, and was completely open plan,” says interior designer Jenny Jones, “and the narrow staircase between floors created a bottleneck.”
Jones, who had worked with Rem Koolhaas and Richard Rogers, and was most recently on the board at Conran & Partners, set up her practice four years ago. Fjord appointed Studio Jenny Jones having built up a relationship with its founder over breakfast. After doing a breakfast talk at Fjord, Jones was asked to explore how the Fitzrovia office could be improved. When Fjord later decided to move, it took Jones and the insight she’d gathered. Just 11 months lapsed between the appointment of Jones’ eight-strong project team and completion, so her earlier involvement saved the project time.
Fjord, which designs digital products and services for clients including Finnair and Unilever, is a network of 27 offices worldwide. To soak up its corporate atmosphere, Jones took field trips to three outposts: Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinski. “We looked at how the project spaces were working,” she says. “They ran the full gamut from fully open plan to rooms.”
Fjord London’s studio lead, Celia Romaniuk, explains her priorities for the new space: “For us, the real focus was less about the materials and more about how the space would work for the 100-strong team.”