MoreySmith’s central London office champions a sense of belonging
As interior design specialist MoreySmith moves into a new office in central London, the firm explores ideas of belonging, health and safery, flexbility and community in the workspace
The swift decline and practical obsolescence of the traditional office has been remarked on by many, not least the millions of us who are now adjusting to very different patterns of life and work. But what of those whose job it is to shape those very spaces? One architecture and interior studio that’s had to face this particular reckoning rather sooner than others is MoreySmith, a London-based firm with copious experience and awards to its name and clients that include Sony, LVMH, JP Morgan and Coke. This summer, the studio moved into new, self-designed offices in central London, set across three floors of a renovated Victorian warehouse, close at hand to the company’s other workspace, which is retained as a creative studio.
Linda Morey-Burrows is adamant that although density is down, some form of human connection is essential. ‘I do think that social space will be increasingly important,’ she says. The MoreySmith offices include plenty of flexible, collaborative spaces, a place to eat together and a Yoga space. While expansion was necessary due to the success of the business, so too was the need to improve social distancing. To that end, no staff sit directly facing each other, with 2m of clear space between each workstation.
‘People will want their own persona space but they also want to be treated well,’ she says of the industry in general, adding that ‘the desk could even die [completely] with new technology.’ Instead, MoreySmith imagine offices becoming more like hybrid spaces, akin to a library or university study area rather than a rigorous call-centre rows of desks or cubicles.
Their new workplace allows the studio to practice what it preaches, with plenty of greenery, sunlight, and a natural but pared back palette of materials (it is after all a place for experimenting with different finishes and fixtures). Artwork is also given price of place, with ‘5th March 1972’, a 7.5m long piece by Bob and Roberta Smith, serving as a focal point, with its textured surfaces of recycled wood.
Sustainability is just as important as the quality of the space itself and Morey-Burrows and her team have taken care to re-use and re-purpose existing furniture and fittings wherever possible, including ex-display lighting systems and a reclaimed timber floor.
With their own space encouraging a more ascetic and focused attitude towards coming into the office, MoreySmith is also decoding a new future for their clients. ‘I’ve been looking at what materials are better for reducing virus transmission, like wood, untreated leather, copper,’ she says, adding that more research is needed into anti-viral design.
‘I think that bigger brands and companies will have to work even harder to make their workspaces more attractive,’ she says, ‘it’s a bit like the struggle facing retail [before COVID]; those that did well created a more experiential shopping experience. The office is the same. Belonging and community are needed to draw people in.’ As for themselves, MoreySmith are proud to have created an office that ‘everyone was excited to come back to.’ §