Selfridges department store on Oxford-Street in London’s Marylebone has been a shopping haven for fans of respected brands for 111 years. In those years, the company has evolved and changed hands many times, most recently in 2003 when it was acquired by the British-Canadian Galen Weston family.
As retail has changed dramatically over those years, so have the requirements of how and where the company’s executives, buyers and merchandisers work. The company’s head office, in the Selfridges building on Duke Street, has now, after two years of overhaul, emerged in a completely new form.
To re-think the 19,700 square-foot (1,830 sq. ft) office space, Selfridges hired its go-to architect Alex Cochrane. Cochrane’s office has designed, for example, Selfridges Men’s Designer Floors and Personal Shopping areas, as well as the world’s largest eyewear department in Selfridges new Accessories Hall.
The new offices focus on maximizing flexibility and encouraging cooperation between the various departments. No-one has a permanent spot among the 125 works stations as everyone gathers their belongings at the end of the work day and stores them in their personal locker. In the buying and merchandising area this makes particularly perfect sense as most of the team members in this group have very busy travel schedules, are used to nomadic life and don’t require a permanent office.
Separate, more enclosed areas exist in the form of pink-glass phone booths and sound-proofed blue-fabric-paneled meeting booths that can also double as quiet offices.
Of course, there are the obligatory playroom, kitchen, lounge and outside terrace, all encouraging teams to spend unstructured time together.
Much attention was paid to sustainable design elements as well. Renewable wood paneling, solar panels, local, reused and reusable, as well as green certified materials were prioritized.
Kitchen counters and benches are made of boards of compressed recycled paper, and acoustic wall-linings and seating are structured of boards made of recycled plastic and bottle tops. Discarded building boards were re-coated and re-used, and floor surfaces were made from 97 per cent raw and natural materials.
The meeting room acoustic paneling is made from 100 per cent renewable and discarded wood, all lighting is low energy, and kitchen appliances and AV monitors were selected for their A+ rating.
This great new playground matches the working style of the company’s head office teams of today perfectly. We can only imagine what the first Selfridges head office looked like 111 years ago, but it is safe to assume that with its dark paneling and heavy leather chairs it matched the working style of that day just as well. Change is good. Tuija Seipell.