In the Galician language, to do something with xeito is to do something with both skill and flair, which is precisely what Spain’s Enorme Studio has pulled off with its design for the new offices of Xeito Investments, a family-run investment firm in Madrid.
The uniquely versatile space, located near El Retiro Park in the heart of the Spanish capital, was initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic waylaid Europe and much of the rest of the world, but the inherent flexibility built into the plan has proven both prescient and useful.
Revolving around a circular open space offering an unobstructed 360-degree perspective on its surroundings (plus plenty of elbow room), the design makes ingenious use of pivoting, folding and sliding doors, a colourful double curtain system and a range of workspaces (both individual and shared) to ensure maximum flexibility, including any needed privacy.
“The closed spaces are reduced to a minimum,” says Enorme, an architecture and design studio spearheaded by Carmelo Rodríguez and Rocío Pina. These intentionally “isolated” areas include a glass-walled telephone booth (“designed… to be always visible”) and a couple of meeting rooms (one marked by a statement wall depicting “a misty Galician forest” and the other “a smaller dynamic one that incorporates into the common space with a system of sliding doors.”)
Mostly, though, the layout is fluid and unhindered, reflecting Xeito’s ethos of corporate transparency and accommodating multiple needs. Lined on both sides with curving communal workstations, the defining central space, for instance, serves as both a reception area for visitors (when visitors can be received again) and a gathering spot for staff. With a few tugs of the double drapery system, moreover, the space can be configured “for up to 10 different situations,” each providing its own degree of openness or opacity.
When the curtains are completely closed, says Enorme, they create “a blue cylinder” with an entirely cloistered interior; drawing them across only the first half of the perimeter, by contrast, delineates space more precisely, separating public from private areas.
Should Xeito ever need to host to “bigger crowds” for business or celebratory reasons, adds the studio, it can do so by pulling, sliding and pivoting open all the partitions in the office, creating “one continuous room.”
In the meantime, the focus is on employee comfort. According to Enorme, the materials, furniture and systems chosen, including ceramic tiles by 41zero42, MDF panelling by Finsa, curtains and wallcoverings by Vescom and furniture by Normann Copenhagen and Hay, “all [reflect] the same common criteria: sustainability, design [quality] and durability.”
The main objective of their human-centric approach, conclude the designers, was to show “how spaces are able to [posit] collaboration and teamwork as the fundamental motors of projects.” Even during a pandemic.
Featuring few confined spaces and multiple partition options, the design for Spanish investment house Xeito was initiated prior to COVID-19, but serves employees well.