An architecture firm’s office serves as the ultimate portfolio piece. No matter how nice the project photos on a design team’s website might look, when a potential client comes by for a meeting, they’re seeing how that firm actually operates. And before signing a contract, it helps to feel as confident about a design team’s aesthetic vision as one does about its work culture.
With its new Hong Kong headquarters, dubbed Contempo, architecture and interior design studio via. has created a compelling showcase of its creative process — and thrown its doors wide open to the surrounding community.
Based in an industrial brick building, the firm’s two-storey space is divided into a lower level for work and an upper level that acts as a kind of flexible cultural hotspot, reached via a Scandinavian timber staircase. On the way up, a wall niche acts as a podium for a choice selection of the studio’s maquettes.
Interdisciplinary pursuits are a big part of via.’s philosophy — it gets its name from the idea of design as a path “where all aesthetic disciplines converge” — and the multi-purpose gallery-slash-event-space upstairs allows it to showcase its team members’ various artistic pursuits, as well as to foster new creative partnerships with others in the city’s arts community.
Already, the crisp white space (contrasted by the occasional fluted glass partition or exposed concrete wall) has hosted exhibitions dedicated to canvases and sculptures, displayed alongside in-house furniture designs by via.
Of course, no gallery is complete without a gift shop. At via., a corner retail nook — distinguished by its dark green walls and terrazzo floors — also sells prints, candles and sculptural trays created as part of the firm’s side-project, a lifestyle brand dubbed One K Edition.
If the upstairs of via.’s Hong Kong office is where it displays the fruits of its labour, then downstairs is where it really flexes its creative muscle. Yet here, too, the firm is committed to fostering a vibrant community.
Desks for focused individual work are complemented by bright communal areas like a café anchored by a three-metre-long travertine bar. This lunchroom area also opens up to an outdoor terrace.
Furnishings throughout the office level act as a further showcase of Hong Kong’s design culture. A walnut bench is courtesy of local furniture studio Twenty One From Eight, while a banquette repurposes old seating from Hong Kong’s Hoi On Café.
All in all, via.’s Hong Kong office space perfectly conveys the company values: work hard, yes, but also take time to step away from your desk and explore other creative pursuits.
With its community-minded space, the architecture and interior design firm proves that it values creative exploration as highly as work.