Pallavi Dean Interiors has designed an office space with elements of a hospitality project.
Made up on contrasting values, the design team paired “hard’ corporate values” such as professionalism, integrity, quality, excellence and efficiency with “softer, more human values” such as nourishing and nurturing people and relationships; courtesy; maturity and authenticity.
“The trick was to blend them together seamlessly. As office designers, the danger with designing around company values is that we sometimes resort to tokenism: stick a fusbal table in a corner to tick the box that says ‘fun place to work’. We were very conscious with this project not to fall into that trap. For this client, the corporate and the human values aren’t separate, they co-exist. The same had to be true of the office,” explained Pallavi Dean, design director.
“You see this particularly in the material and colour palette – the mood boards look more like a hospitality project than a typical office,” she added.
What are some of the elements featured in the project?
PD: We’ve gone for natural white travertine, the veins in the stone draw you into the office space. There’s a light oak herringbone floor and custom designed walnut joinery that sections the space.The glass walls partition the space while allowing natural light to flow throughout.
To make sure the space didn’t feel echoey and hollow, we’ve balanced these hard surfaces with an overload of soft finishes like rugs, upholstery, wallpaper and plants and a minimally detailed plasterboard ceiling. The colours are predominantly neutral browns, creams and taupes. In short, we sidestepped the latest fads in favour of timeless elegance, intelligent design, quality materials and craftsmanship.
The effect is that the first thing you feel when you walk through the door is a sense of quality and excellence. But not in an intimidating way, it’s warm and welcoming with a sense of calm authority. This is not an office designed to impress. It’s a serene environment that inspires people using it to think, collaborate and create their best work.
This particular client has a very keen design eye. We find designing ‘with’ the client instead of ‘for’ the client always results in a design that is in direct response to the requirements. We love this collaborative approach!
What are your favourite design features and why?
PD: If there’s one word I love about this project, it’s restraint. There’s nothing flashy or bling. As a designer it can be hard to resist the temptation to go for grand gestures and statements, but often the only purpose they serve is to impress other designers! It’s good practice to hold yourself back sometimes. It’s a different kind of design challenge: creating subtle yet provoking vignettes by using material and intersection points as the guiding design feature -such as the view into the boardroom through the sweeping double doors.
Then there’s the custom joinery. We’re proud to work with carpenters who can create such detail, such quality craftsmanship right here in the UAE. In many ways, the intersection and junction of materials is the highlight of the show. No two surfaces directly touch: there’s always one degree of separation, be it a shadow gap, a recessed light or a metal strip. We even paid attention to minute details such as the different directions of the vein on the wood for the carpentry and the flooring. You also see it in the white travertine wall that stretches from the entrance to the large window overlooking JLT: we made sure the lines of the travertine flowed in one direction, drawing the eye to the gorgeous view.
Lastly, there’s the space planning. We’ve embraced the latest psychological research on office productivity to create open, collaborative spaces where people can ‘swarm’ together for huddle meetings, and quiet, isolated areas where people can disappear to focus on ‘deep work’ tasks.
If I had to pick one element I particularly like, it’s this: we inserted a wooden box in the heart of the space housing the public front of house areas like board rooms and private zones to the front of the office creating distinct public and private zones – with clear sight lines and visual access to all areas through glass boxes and framed vignettes.