The British furniture brand turned an ordinary commercial space into something playful, unique and reflective of its heritage.
May 20th, 2016
All photography by Alex Chomicz
When Timothy Oulton’s retail presence began to grow internationally and its team expanded, the team knew it was time to move from their cramped Gough Street offices in Hong Kong’s NoHo to somewhere that reflected their creative spirit. They found the perfect space in Wong Chuk Hang’s One Island South, nestled amid furniture brands, fellow designers, and other like-minded creatives.
In-house Architect, Simon Laws, headed the mission to transform the Wong Chuk Hang commercial space into an office that would embody Timothy Oulton’s position as the “creative nexus of the Halo Group”. The aim, says Timothy Oulton, the brand’s Founder and Creative Director, was to “create somewhere where people could feel relaxed and happy. The centrally located but minuscule and separated Gough Street offices needed a replacement that encouraged better communication and random interaction, while making the most of large spaces.”
The Gough Street location had consisted of three separate offices, which meant the team was physically divided – something that went against the brand’s family-oriented culture. “The new space has really nurtured that culture. Everyone gets together for lunch at the long communal table overlooking the mountains; it’s a fun, social space,” says Oulton. “As we’re now all in one place it’s easy to pop in and see someone face-to-face rather than send an email. It’s more personable, which encourages a very cohesive way of working.”
The design for the space also encourages creativity. “We didn’t want it to feel like a traditional office,” says Oulton. This comes through from the minute you step inside the space. “The entrance is pretty dramatic, clad in tufted leather with a mosaic marble floor, so you feel like you’re walking into somewhere special,” says Oulton.
This space consists of an open walkway that leads into the office itself. On the walls hang printed portraits of Oulton’s “top 10 movers and shakers”, which includes Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger and Winston Churchill. The three meeting rooms sit at the end of the hallway, clad in glass and wrapped in a brass Union Jack.
It is items like these that pay tribute to the brand’s British heritage, while other elements emphasise the brand’s playful nature. There is, for example, a giant horse in the main meeting room, and a secret door leads to the Design Studio, which was created by Michael Yeung and Bastian Tillard, both of whom work as designers for Timothy Oulton.
The Design Studio is more subdued than some of the other spaces, with a black palette as the foundation, giving this room a cool feel that lets the designers focus on what they do best. Timothy Oulton furniture has its place here too, though: there are Aviator Tomcat chairs dotted around the room, and the long central table was a custom piece, made from aluminium in the brand’s signature riveted finish.
The materials all came from the brand’s workshops in southern China, and much of it was reclaimed – including the scaffolding planks that have been repurposed here as office partition walls. “We’re interested in making pieces with character and soul,” says Oulton. “Reclaimed materials have a story to them, isn’t it more interesting to eat at a table made from century-old timber from an English mill, or have a coffee table built from the propeller of an old fishing boat? Also, it makes every piece authentically unique, every piece of wood is weathered in a slightly different way, and it actually gets better as it ages and takes on its own patina.”
The biggest challenge on this project was the timeline: the team had just three months to turn this around in. And, as this is a commercial building with regular office hours, most of the work had to be done outside of these hours. Despite this, the team managed to complete the project within the allotted timeframe, with fun and utterly original results. Says Oulton, “Good organisation and a cooperative contractor are always the key to a successful outcome.”
Timothy Oulton’s headquarters are located at 17/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang. Its Hong Kong gallery is located at 15 St Francis Street, Wan Chai.
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