Designed by Mass Operations, this Hollywood Road office of a Singapore-based property investment firm draws inspiration from original raw conditions of the existing space, the neighbourhood and beyond. Sylvia Chan writes.
In this open plan office on Hollywood Road, moveable glass partitions with black steel frames define the main work area and the meeting space. In addition, a monochrome palette highlights the textures of the different elements of the office, while exposed and rough concrete structural beams, pillars, and flooring stand in contrast with the refined furniture and lighting fixtures. “We intentionally mixed the rough industrial textures with refined and curated textures. For example, we have bare concrete next to high gloss carpentry, and glass partitions with black frames next to brushed aluminium cabinets. We find the juxtaposition of the rough and the sleek interesting,” says Viviano Villarreal Buerón, founder and director of Mass Operations.
To expose the original raw conditions of the space, the designers have peeled off the vinyl flooring introduced by the previous tenant. The concrete structural slab was only smoothened and polished to give it its final finish, says Villarreal Buerón. “We believe there are aesthetic values to basic, honest, structural materials which are often covered up by materials of different qualities that do not reflect integrity,” he says. He adds that through getting rid of the additional layers of materials, the space reconnects with the honesty and beauty of the original.
In contrast with the rough concrete walls and flooring, the desks in the office have white glossy surfaces. They are composed of a recycled wood pallet base, steel and glass structures, and high gloss timber tops. The design was inspired by the sculptures of American minimalist artist Donald Judd. “I got to experience Judd’s work firsthand when I visited his ranch in Marfa, Texas. His aluminium and concrete boxes are particularly interesting, reflecting his explorations of the inner space within each sculpture. His sculptures lack pedestals. They reveal in a very honest and beautiful way their construction processes through joints, separation of elements, and the thickness of the materials,” Villarreal Buerón says.
In line with the ambition of the investment firm to expand from four to 12 employees, the 115-metre-square office boasts an open layout with moveable full-height glass partitions framed in black steel. The sliding partitions will allow part of the meeting space to merge with the main work area to form an expanded and open workspace when needed. According to Villarreal Buerón, the open and naturally lit space coupled with its flexible configuration also promotes an efficient and enjoyable workflow.
Apart from the rough finishing and the meticulously designed furniture, the office also features a mosaic wall with the outline of prominent real estate icons with proximity to the site, thus bringing the city into the interior. In addition, the mosaic wall makes reference to the mass transit railway stations of Hong Kong, which widely employ mosaics as a design element. The wall’s green and white colour combination was chosen to mirror the branding of the investment firm.
This office has not only been designed to promote work efficiency; the meticulous interplay between rough and refined textures, and the unique references made to the surrounding neighbourhood and beyond, has resulted in a workspace that stands out from the norm.