When the designers at Stockholm’s Note Design Studio first saw the 1920s-era building that The Office Group (TOG) had asked them to transform into a new co-working space, they were initially struck by its distinctive features. Upon entering the edifice — called Summit House — near London’s Holborn subway station, however, it was a different story. “It had all been renovated,” recalls designer Charlotte Ackemar, who worked on the refurbishment. “It was basically a white box. It was like its soul was missing.”
The design team looked to revive its former spirit by conceiving a sophisticated take on the Swedish Grace movement, a pre-functionalist style of modernism developed in the Nordic country and akin to art deco. At Summit House, where the project’s scope stretched across five storeys and nearly 4,200 square metres, this manifests as a bold and imaginative use of shapes and colours.
Different shades of green in the meeting rooms, for instance, transition into caramel-coloured tones in the plant-filled ground-floor work area and along the panelled corridors on all five office floors. Ridges and modules, meanwhile, are repeated on table bases and walls, while the custom black, cream and terracotta terrazzo in the reception area contrasts with the space’s linear architecture.
Another striking touch is provided by the sculptural tiered elements found throughout the project. There’s the stepped architectural framework that envelops the reception desk, used again to soften and add interest to the ceiling of the ballroom (a large co-working lounge on the ground floor). Here, the tiered feature also doubles as a clever way to elegantly conceal mechanical systems.
“We applied materials such as different mirrors to play the role of art, creating a timeless feeling while bringing richness and texture to the spaces,” Ackemar adds. “The interiors have this soft atmosphere to them.” In work-hard, play-hard London, it’s a welcome and effective respite.
For Summit House, the Swedish firm transforms an expansive heritage building into a unique office space with residential flair.