Inside the Design: Propercorn by Living in Space
Over the last year we’ve seen more residential designers than ever turning their hand to commercial projects. While the trend for the soft workplace has been well documented, we’re now seeing this reach new levels of blurred lines between the work and the home that’s affecting everything from the choice of building, to space layout and concept design. This, coupled with an increasing number of non-traditional offices such as co-working spaces, is opening doors to a new arena in interiors.
We spoke to Tanyth from residential studio Living in Space, who were recently commissioned to design the new canal side office for Propercorn. As one of the fastest growing start ups in Europe (listed in the FT) it’s interesting that they chose a residential studio for the project.
“It was quite a big pull for Propercorn that we aren’t strictly a commercial design company. I think because we do residential mostly, we naturally come across more personable and can be more responsive to them as a personality as opposed to a strict brand.”
How did you develop the concept for the space?
It was personality that led the design concept, and then we thought about how that personality could be maintained in a functional space, that is densely populated, and how it could grow. So it was almost like looking at it as a residential space. Propercorn very much have the personality of a family, but are growing rapidly.
How was this process different from residential design?
When we look at a residential project we chat to every member of the family and when it came to Propercorn we actually applied the same approach. We chatted to Ryan and Cassandra (the founders) and sent out questionnaires to the heads of each team so we could really take in to consideration what they needed and understand where they were winning or losing with their previous property. We had to consider how we could section off different areas so teams could have privacy, but also have a shared space where everyone feels welcome – which again, is actually just the same as a home!
Probably the biggest thing difference for us was the health and safety that’s involved in an office as oppose to residential. Which is obviously so important to be on top of. But in terms of design it was surprisingly similar. The workplace is moving into being such a more personable experience. People are working flexible hours, and if they’re coming in to the office outside of normal hours then they need to be able to feel comfortable and at home.
Propercorn is famous for being a ‘personality’ brand. Do you think this made it easier to apply a residential approach?
There were certainly brand considerations, like Pantone colours specific to Propercorn had to be utilised as much as possible. They also have a very strong brand ethic of good, heathly lifestyle and are highly community-driven. But as you say, Cassandra and Ryan’s personalities are a strong part of the company and the the brand ethic is very authentic to them, and they were a lot more involved in the design than you would normally get on a commercial project which was really helpful.
How did the company personality influence the product selection?
It was very clear from the start that the team didn’t want a replicated look, the space had to be unique and feel like themselves. This meant that unlike some commercial projects where you want a succinct look, exactly what you can get from a couple of suppliers coming together, with this project we needed to lose all sense of someone else’s signature look. eporta was brilliant for this as there is access to so many products and suppliers without feeling pigeonholed by just one look. Using the smaller suppliers was not intentional, however they just had the products we were looking for!
What were the biggest challenges?
Timelines! It is always timelines and the knock on effect of delays. With commercial projects in particular a company needs to be able to pack up one night and start working in the new space the next day. There can’t be delays on the final install. The nice thing though about going through eporta is that the suppliers are always so keen to help, I often get much better responses than going direct which helps the projects and my stress significantly!
And what was your favourite moment?
It just has to be the unveiling. It was a rather special moment as often you hand over the keys and return a little later to see how they feel, but with Propercorn we got to be there, as Cassandra and Ryan brought the team down the canal on a barge to reveal the final result. Seeing how much the team meant to them, and them giving the team a space that truly reflected them was emotional to say the least!
And finally, we checked in with Ryan, co founder of Propercorn, to see what they envisaged and how they’re finding the space now…
We wanted a space that reflected our team and our brand, we weren’t looking for a stereotypical start-up look, it had to be homely. Cassandra and I both grew up in large families and wanted to recreate that communal atmosphere in the office, as well as an open plan space without the feeling of hierarchy. One of the things that drew us towards Living in Space was their experience within residential design. They really listened and understood our needs and immersed themselves in our vision and made us think hard about how we wanted to use the space.
The result has been massive. Company culture is one of the most precious things to Cassandra and I, so finding a space with an incredible location and enhancing that to fit our personality is perfect. We’re chuffed when people visit the office and their reaction is simply “wow!”. It is certainly the nicest office I’ve ever worked in. We even have what I class as our own mini amphitheatre. It is one of my favourite spaces (alongside the kitchen of course!) where we can all go for a weekly team meeting and really bring the team together.
Take a look at some of the suppliers Living in Space used in the Propercorn office: