While immensely popular in the UAE for those looking to buy or rent property, the Propertyfinder Group is quickly becoming a leading property portal beyond the country’s borders and reaching out across the MENA region.
In establishing its powerful regional presence, Propertyfinder opted to develop its headquarters in Dubai’s Media City with the help of Swiss Bureau Interior Design.
According to Joakim de Rham, CEO and co-founder of Swiss Bureau Interior Design, the brief initially asked for an office that reflects not only financial stability but also the cutting edge technology that is being developed within its walls.
Propertyfinder CEO Michael Lahyani requested that because the company is no longer considered a start-up, but rather a very well-established company with more than 100 employees, the office should provide reassurance to those that enter it. Lahyani also insisted that the office refrain from being overly corporate and stuffy, and should consist of a contemporary, young and funky feel. He envisioned a homey atmosphere, so as to create a cosy environment for his hard working staff.
“As a fast growing company, Propertyfinder asked us to design a project considering the future growth of the company by maximising the work stations in each department but always considering a very cool and innovative design that should be original, reflect the company identity and should not leave the visitor indifferent,” explains de Rham.
He adds: “They also asked us to consider the employees as top priority and bring to the design some solutions that will make them happy to come in to work. Therefore, we had to think about some elements such as the vertical garden, a large pantry, but at the same time always being aware not to use too much space—so we could not have a Google office type.”
According to de Rham, inspiration for the office’s scheme came from the company and CEO himself. To the design team, Propertyfinder is the epitome of innovation, technology and practicality.
“Knowing his company ethics and staff inside and out, Michael worked very closely with us to achieve the perfect environment aesthetically and functionally,” says de Rham. “Michael has challenged us immensely to further push our creativity to the limit. So we had to combine all the elements Propertyfinder conveys keeping in mind the balance needed between design and work space.”
The completed project consists of a fusion of generously featured surfaces, shapes and volumes that de Rham says are in harmony with the surrounding environment. Upon entering the space, visitors and staff alike are greeted at the lift lobby where they are led into the reception area through a glorious wooden tunnel that displays the company logo on one side. At the end of the tunnel, the welcoming reception area, which is playfully shaped like a traditional house, captures your attention.
“One can immediately start to notice a diversity of moods created throughout the office. Within the noisy buzz of the main sales hall, is the contrasting calmness of a full length green wall,” explains de Rham. “A minimalism of elements is represented through the generosity of the full-length planes surrounding the sales hall.”
The design of the office allows for a variety of meeting hubs, with each establishing different ambiances, including an outdoor-themed meeting room, a chic framed wooden box which serves as the main meeting room, cushioned phone booths as well as informal meeting areas positioned along the windows that boast impressive views of the city.
A hidden door allows entry to the pantry area, which is a vast space that provides room for staff to socialise and relax. According to de Rham, giving the pantry so much space was an investment with a large return.
He says: “One of the most interesting spaces is the pantry, which is really the ‘cool space’ of the office. Essentially, it is where the staff can relax, play snooker or PlayStation—but it can also be used as informal meeting spaces. In this way, we have saved space by not creating small meeting rooms that are generally not used. Therefore, we can call it a hybrid space. This pantry is a big investment in terms of surface, but at the end, the return is larger as it ensures the happiness of the staff to work in this environment.”
Throughout the office, main materials are marked by the natural blend of elements used to reflect a homey-outdoor theme. The green wall system installed by The Kontainer consists of hand-picked plants, while green moss and soft oak parquet add soft touches to the warm environment. According to de Rham, the high traffic zones are covered with a woven material supplied by Bolon in both brown and green, which coincides with the nature theme. Glass frames, interesting partitions and unexpected door handles are small details that bring the whole picture together.
“We wanted a touch of nature in the office to really bring life to the space,” says de Rham. “It started with only the reception and spread slowly until we found ourselves with a 15m long green wall spanning throughout the entire office! At night, the green wall reflects on the surrounding windows; in turn, one feels like they are sitting in the middle of a forest.”
As for furniture, Swiss Bureau Interior Design sourced office chairs from Duram, while it reached out to high-end brands like Moooi, Magis, Tacchini, Tecno and Superstudio for furniture and lighting. The open office also contains workstations from Cubes and Co.
According to de Rham, designing for a company that was still expanding provided quite a challenge. “That in itself made all of the other usual challenges that much more difficult,” he says. “There are of course the usual challenges of timing, especially with a project with so many details. We at Swiss Bureau like to create innovative details for each project.”
As de Rham puts it, the end result of the office design represents its inhabiting company perfectly. He adds: “The spaces were designed to inspire the staff and create a homey environment to reflect their already close work ethic. All the spaces were created keeping in mind a team-working and team-building atmosphere. Each department has custom made touches to further enhance productivity and give the staff a ‘feel good’ overall vibe.”
Fast facts about Propertyfinder’s new office:
Propertyfinder is no longer a local startup, with more than 100 employees, the company is branching out of the UAE’s borders and becoming a well-trusted portal across the MENA region.
Reflecting the corporate growth, Propertyfinder’s CEO wanted an interior scheme that not only reflected the seriousness and stability of the company, but that also reflected the youthful spirit of its technological developments.
Designed by Swiss Bureau Interior Design, helmed by CEO Joakim de Rham.
The offices main design feature is the 15m long green wall installed by The Kontainer.
The interior scheme includes a homey and natural environment that is comfortable for its staff, as well as memorable for its visitors.