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Inspired Spaces North 2016 – All the shortlisted entries

Inspired Spaces North, in association with Active Profile and backed by headline partner Capital&Centric and supporting partners Brabners and Zut Media, was launched in April 2016 and invited entries from agencies, organisations and companies across the North.

capital&centricWe were inundated with entries of some truly stunning offices, and after a three-hour judging session, shortlisted a total of 45 spaces.

Here are the shortlisted entries in full:

Inspired Spaces North – The Shortlisted Entries

Inspired Space 1: K7 Media offices

This space was redesigned specifically for K7 Media’s office needs when the company moved in 2014. Located in a Grade II listed building on Dale Street in Manchester that was built in 1903 during the cotton boom, it includes many of the original features including red steel sliding warehouse doors and exposed brick work. “It is impossible to ignore the legacy of the building, inherent in the doors, columns and large windows,” K7’s entry read. “To be using this building again as a leading company in our field, serving high-profile clients across the world feels completely fitting, and of course, humbling.”



Inspired Space 2: Faith PR and Big Shots Cafe

In December 2014, Faith PR moved into Thornhill Brigg Mills, a former 18th century textile mill in Brighouse with exposed stonework and beams, Queen’s trusses and Yorkshire stone flags. All it was missing was a good café nearby – so Faith teamed up with two neighbouring businesses and set one up themselves. Big Shots Coffee Co opened in June 2015 and all staff benefit from a 25% food and drink discount, subsidised by Faith. That and the new office has had a “huge impact” on wellbeing and productivity, the agency says. “The café impresses clients and shows them that we are not only a service-orientated business, but that we also invest in, and run a customer-facing business; we not only talk the talk but we walk the walk and understand the challenges they face.”

Big Shots Coffee Co -111


Inspired Space 3: Loaf Creative‘s studio

Staff productivity and mood has “dramatically” improved since Loaf relocated to its new base in Waulk Mill last year. Co-founders Dave Mullen and Alan Houghton planned and designed the Urban Splash space and all associated furniture, working with local company Concrete Juice who produced and fitted all items for the space, helping to tailor the designs to fit with the materials used and limitations of the space. “From early mornings with the sun flowing into the space through the tens of windows that line the walls of the studio, to the days that rain patters on the corrugated roof over half of the studio, days spent in the space are really special, and the space means a lot to our staff and clients.”



Inspired Space 4: Generator Studios at Gardiner Richardson

The Newcastle agency’s Trafalgar Street studio is home to a team of 30, having moved from a first-floor studio in the same building in May 2015. It’s a space designed by the team – alongside consultants Ward Robinson – to reflect its collaborative approach to work. “We remain as true to our philosophy of removing the boundaries between communications to create compelling, inspiring stories for our clients as we did when we started in 1998 – and our new space reflects our ethos.” There are long, fluid workbenches, movable screens and laptops, clusters of chairs huddled around the fire, a number of break-out spaces and large comfortable sofas on the mezzanine level which can accommodate the whole team. “There is a deliberate lack of barriers,” the agency says.

The loft

working in studio

Inspired Space 5: WMG HQ (Central House)

Central House is the new Harrogate HQ for WMG that the company designed from scratch, specifically for its needs. With floor to ceiling windows offering superb views over the North Yorkshire spa town, the 100 staff on the premises can also make use of walking treadmill work stations, creative breakout areas, ‘silent pods’ to allow people to make phone calls in absolute quiet, a games area and a semi-open plan core area. There’s also a personal photo wall, made up of professionally taken photos of employees with a symbol of their favourite hobby out of work. People have been captured with pets, maps and globes, baking equipment, a vinyl record collection – and even a unicycle.



Inspired Space 6: Uniform

The Liverpool agency says it has doubled in size – in turnover and headcount – since moving to the space in summer 2013, with productivity and collaborative working both improved. A former storage space on Bold Street, the space is split into three areas: the main open-plan studio, a collaboration zone and a social space. “This has enabled us to create a space that combines flexible workspaces, meeting areas, private booths, a workshop, and a large kitchen and social space where the team can eat together, meet socially and the company holds in formal meetings and events.”



Inspired Space 7: SecureIT Consult (Workplace Manchester)

Workplace is a professional shared work space on Oxford Street in Manchester. After starting his own cyber security consultancy from home, SecureIT Consult MD Ayaz Rathore needed a flexible space where he could conduct client meetings. “The inspirational aspect of Workplace is the atmosphere that its owners have created, whether you’re a small start-up like me, or an extension of a larger corporation,” says Ayaz. “They offer a level of hospitality that you’re more likely to find in an upmarket hotel, the feeling of being looked after every day is absolutely priceless.”

secure1 secure

Inspired Space 8: Cosatto Ltd

Cosatto Towers is a historic red brick former textile mill in Farnworth, Bolton, and the home to baby products company Cosatto. All interior refurbishment has been managed in-house, and rooms include a vibrant showroom space, service centre, chill-out room and a range of themed meeting rooms including the Think Tank, The Snug, The Surf Shack and The Drawing Room. There’s also a small gym, while you’ll find birdsong music and coloured toilet rolls in the loo. “Passing through the Team Cosatto doorway into the colourful and vibrant world of Cosatto Towers transforms each member of team into a passionate and engaged player ready to ‘Save the World from Boring Baby Stuff’,” the company says. And if you’re having a bad day, don’t bother with the stairs – take the slide. “We challenge anyone not to have a smile on their face as they exit.”


Inspired Space 9: 10 Associates (The Watermill)

The West Yorkshire branding consultancy moved into the 18th-century Watermill when it was 10 years old – and turnover proceeded to shoot up by 39% over the next 12 months. 10 Associates designed its own office and created inspirational spaces such as The Playground (with its homage to The BIG Idea up in lights), The Reading Room and The Brandschool Room. “As you look out over the mill pond and up the rolling fields and woods (one of oldest in Europe) you realise you’ve arrived somewhere pretty special,” the company says.” “We love it. Our clients love it even more. In fact – how refreshing to work in a space where our clients WANT to come – not only to visit, but to take time out, hot desk and soak up the vibes of our creative community.”


Inspired Space 10: CTI Digital

The Manchester digital agency says its culture has changed “in a positive way” since it moved to the new office in 2014, with turnover up 30% so far. Staff are more collaborative and social and it’s much easier to get a change of environment and working space. Other features include a meeting and learning auditorium with astroturf, a breakout space with pool or table tennis, standing desks, bar, Apple TVs in every room and an iPad-operated coffee machine.


Inspired Space 11: Sheila Bird Group (Missguided HQ)

Missguided CEO Nitin Passi wanted to create the “world’s best office” when he set about designing the online fashion retailer’s new Salford Quays HQ, with the help of interior designers Sheila Bird Group. And it has to be said the result is something else – with tunnels, floating meeting rooms, swings, arcade games, spiral staircases, a money tree, an indoor and outdoor garden and a dancefloor, bar and DJ booth. “Even if you’re madly in love with your job and thoroughly enjoy going into work every day, the one thing that’s going to make you resent it even a little bit? The lack of selfie light tunnel,” says applicant, Sheila Bird Group. “Which is where Missguided HQ comes in – which is almost certainly THE COOLEST OFFICES OF ALL TIME EVER.”


Inspired Space 12: Launch22

Launch22 is a charity providing affordable workspace in the heart of Liverpool city centre. With large coworking benches seating up to 70 people, personal desks, table tennis, table football, roof top terrace and even beer on tap, its members are “constantly commenting how their productivity levels are through the roof” when working at the facility. “The design has been based around collaboration and this has allowed members to inspire one another by experiencing one another’s successes and failures. They learn from each other, help each other and support each other.”


Inspired Space 13: Angel Solutions



At the start of 2012, Liverpool app company Angel Solutions took the unusual step of converting its offices into a circus. Their reasoning? To reflect the company’s “personality and innovation” and create the “wow” factor for their software and service. Visitors can now expect to see a Big Top and gypsy caravan for creative meetings, a grandstand and ball pool for presentations, a full-wall blackboard for ideas and inspiration, fairground mirrors, a popcorn machine and much more. Described as a “great place to work” by The Guardian, even the staff have learnt to juggle. The result? More collaborative and creative working, they say, as well as reduced travel costs: “Because people always travel to us rather than the other way around.”

Inspired Space 14: Baltic Creative CIC



A decade ago, the Baltic Triangle was home only to disused and uninhabited warehouses and relics from Liverpool’s industrial age. Today, it is the throbbing heart of the city’s digital and creative community, largely thanks to the Baltic Creative Community Interest Company. The Creative Campus (The Catalyst Phase) is at its heart, with a café, gallery space, various shed, duplex and shopfront studios – all with a bespoke house/garden style design. “The design and layout contributed to the sense of community and allowed businesses to work closely, collaborate, share ideas and talent,” they say. “The space is safe, secure, green and fun – it’s simply a great place to work!” The waiting list alone now includes over 100 businesses, and there are plans to double the size of the space.

Inspired Space 15: BBC North


BBC North at Salford Quays. Photo credit Craig Holmes. BBC North at Salford Quays. Photo credit Craig Holmes.

Occupied since the great migration north in 2011, Quay House is one of three buildings leased by the BBC at MediaCityUK. Open and broadcasting 24/7, it houses a mixed workforce, including production, digital, technical and support teams working on BBC Sport, BBC Breakfast, Radio 5 live, Radio Manchester and the homepage. Set over five floors, the space is based on an open plan concept where hot-desking is the norm. There are TV and radio studios, digital technology areas, large and small meeting rooms equipped with video conference facilities, spaces for group collaboration, areas and booths for quiet independent work, as well as a staff restaurant and meeting space. On the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, it is close to restaurants, a theatre, museum, the University of Salford, ITV and over 150 SMEs. “It is an open, light, airy building with a futuristic feel,” the BBC’s entry reads. “Quay House has become a model for 21st century media production.”

Inspired Space 16: Lo  + Behold


Alderley Park conference centre, Alderley Edge Pics: Pip Rustage

Taking a shell and designing it around its specific needs, Manchester web studio Lo + Behold (formerly Evolutia) has had a “noticeable increase in productivity” since moving from a “generic” open-plan environment to one where teams are separated into a studio of their own, with cut-outs strategically placed in the walls to carry a small amount of ambient noise and make quick collaboration easier. Each team can decorate their space as they want – colours, imagery, lighting, music – while there’s a breakout area with fresh fruit and locally roasted coffee, table football, arcade machine, a ‘quiet zone’ and Sonos speakers throughout. “It genuinely reflects our values: unique and non-corporate, treating each team member as an individual and being welcoming for our clients.”

Inspired Space 17: Gyro Manchester



The Manchester agency has been at Exchange Quay for 21 years but after considering a move last year, decided the location “couldn’t be matched for convenience/accessibility, image and amenities”. A new 10-year lease was signed and multi-million-pound revamp undertaken, completed earlier this summer. The office is built around a central ignition space with a ballet kitchen featuring state of the art facilities and a games area. There are five meeting areas including a ‘bleacher style amphitheatre’ for internal and external presentations. Retaining elements of its 103-year history (the oldest in the gyro network), the space uses “a very mono palette creating a timeless – modern – forward thinking workspace”, according to gyro’s entry.

Inspired Space 18: Steamhaus


Steam Haus Manchester

Launching last year, owner Daniel Keighron-Foster wanted to make his new company’s space “as cool and as user friendly as possible – but most importantly, ensure it’s an inspiring place for our staff to work”. The company went for a steampunk/industrious art deco theme as it rejects the “usual hi-tech themes of our competitors and the traditional bricks and mortar data centres of old… So we went full-on analogue, something that we all find really exciting!” Everything is bespoke, such as the parquet panels bought from an interior salvage company and made into bespoke desks with Eames-style hairpin legs, which the company subsequently discovered once lined the lab floors of UMIST. “We love the romantic thought that the likes of Alan Turing and Ernest Rutherford will have at one time regularly walked on the very parquet of the desks that we work at every day.”

Inspired Space 19: Superkrush Films



Jam Jar Studios, owned by video agency Superkrush Films, was originally a working mans’ club and had stood derelict for over 10 years before Superkrush owners Chris Taylor and Nick Todd bought the building outright and commissioned a complete refurbishment. The building now houses Superkrush and five other creative businesses, and includes a café space and the North East’s largest purpose-built green screen facility. “From the day we moved in, there has been a great feeling about the space,” they say. “We had seen the work at various stages, from a cold, inhospitable shell of a building site to a bright, airy, happy working environment. The business has flourished and so has the team.”

Inspired Space 20: Reckless



February 2015 saw Reckless relocate to Crook Street in Chester city centre. Its former base in the historic Chester rows had been beautiful – but with the team spread over three floors and nine rooms, hardly ideal for collaboration. The new space – “a slice of New York loft and Manchester warehouse” – adopts an open plan layout which has encouraged collaborative working and communication across departments and all levels of the business, leading to increased productivity and a 72% growth in turnover. The space features a warm décor with burnt pallets and brick finishes around the windows, unique pieces of pop art, a lounge area with Xbox, a bar and the recent addition of some VR headsets.

Inspired Space 21: Dragonfly Contracts (5 New York Street)



Dragonfly worked with the four-storey building’s owner, Bruntwood, to complete its refurbishment, working on the reception, common areas, staircases, lift and the third floor. The main challenge came from access to the building. Some of the steel work used was up to five and a half metres long, but access to this was via a small window on the third floor. Dragonfly organised for a road closure and crane lift for the loading of the mezzanine steel work, eventually completing the two-day job inside a single day. The result is a space with “bags of character”.

Inspired Space 22: Code Computerlove



Code’s 80-strong staff moved into its new 13,000 sq ft space on Dale Street earlier this year. It’s enabled the agency’s move to client-centric teams – where teams are physically sat together, living and breathing the clients they work on. Work areas with large screens enable teams to keep track of flow and view real-time metrics on client work. Other features of the space include a 100-person learning area, a state-of-the-art UX testing lab, a War Room for planning and strategy, and a games and media area kitted out with retro electronics (including a Sinclair C5), table football and a Playstation. “We’ve created a space that fosters a culture of empowerment and improvement,” Code says. “It’s totally geared up to deliver our vision and proposition, methodologies and ways of working with clients.”

Inspired Space 23: ODI Leeds



ODI Leeds, a not-for-profit pioneer node of the Open Data Institute, is a space where anyone can come together to engage and innovate with open data. It was transformed from a husk into the bright, welcoming space it is now on a shoestring. Led by events director Kathryn Connell, the building was stripped back and the outdated office ceiling lighting taken out to give access to brilliant skylights. The tables were reclaimed from Birmingham Central Library (and all the chewing gum scraped from beneath them). It’s now a space that accommodates several events a week. “There is an expectant energy, that great things can be made here. People come together to make change happen, starting small and growing from there. All in this space.”

Inspired Space 24:



Over 100 staff played a part in the £2.5 million refurb of the company’s 63,000 sq ft space – home of its customer service centre – on Quay Street. Each of the five floors is inspired by icons that are intrinsic to Manchester’s rich heritage – including ‘Science and Industry’, ‘The Northern Quarter’ and ‘Manchester Culture’. There’s also a rowing boat on the indoor lake on which to take time out – and the in-house café is a reimagining of Manchester’s legendary Hacienda nightclub, complete with yellow-and-black bollards, multi-coloured uplights, a ‘VIP area’ and tailor-made speaker wall. “This space is designed to inspire the people who deal with our customers on a daily basis to deliver for them… it’s a beautiful space inspired by Manchester itself. Every element of the building captures the amazing diversity of our great city.”

Inspired Space 25: Dragonfly Contracts Ltd (WORKPLACE)



Dragonfly was invited to work on the project for Workplace – a new co-working company based in Manchester – in July 2015. It’s the first of many which the Workplace team want to open across the country and occupies a 8,300 sq ft space in Churchgate House on Oxford Street. Members sign up on a month-by-month basis and can choose from private self-contained offices, private desks in open spaces, hot-desks or a business lounge. Dragonfly was specifically tasked with focusing on bespoke joinery items, furniture designs and finishes, taking just seven weeks to complete the job in time for launch in October 2015.

Inspired Space 26: Wild Rumpus



Wild Rumpus CIC is based at The Whirligig, a beautiful four-acre woodland on the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire, and a stone’s throw from the Just So Festival it produces annually. Since moving to the site in March 2013, the company has gradually added more spaces including a converted horsebox, shepherd’s huts, vintage caravans, roundhouses and a specially commissioned tree house meeting space. “We can have meetings walking through autumn leaves, snowdrops, bluebells and in meadows, as well as snuggled up next to wood burners in winter,” the company says. “Working there makes us happier, healthier, more creative people and changes the way we look at the world around us.”

Inspired Space 27: Enigma Interactive



In 2009, after outgrowing several rented office spaces, managing director Steve Grainger led a £1million re-development of the Grade II Listed Mansion House Chambers, transforming it from a disused building into a modern, flexible office space, and Enigma moved into its new headquarters on Newcastle’s quayside in 2010. On the ground floor, there’s a speak-easy style cocktail bar called Tiger Hornsby, and as well as the building’s large open plan spaces, there are breakout areas, an impressive reception area and large meeting rooms with great views over the river Tyne and its famous bridges. “A lot of thought has been put in by our MD, his assistant and their architects as to how the building can best serve the needs of staff and the business.”

Inspired Space 28: McCann Manchester



McCann moved to Bonis Hall in Prestbury – a Georgian Grade II-listed building with bell tower, oak-panelled rooms and “hot and cold-running ghosts” – in 1974. It’s now home to 370 employees who enjoy their very own pub, gym and even a swimming pool. According to creative director Neil Lancaster, inside there are “lofty old rooms, bright soft-furnished areas, nectarine walls, a slate-roofed bothy plus what has to be said is quite a standard-issue, aluminium-floored creative department”. He adds: “Remember that scene in Thunderbirds when the camera looks out over the rippling blue water of a swimming pool towards a futurist glass-and-steel man-pad? That’s where I work.”

Inspired Space 29: The Sharp Project



Home to 200,000 sq ft of space and over 60 creative digital businesses, the Manchester City Council-owned Sharp Project opened in 2011 and now employs 480 people on site. The building itself is designed for collaboration with The Campus communal space at its heart, where tenants’ work, network, socialise and meet with clients and colleagues. In the ‘Red’ area, two terrace rows of converted shipping containers provide affordable office space for a wide range of businesses, from games to digital forensics, video production to motion capture. “It has its own unique style and despite being in a cavernous space, feels intimate, welcoming, friendly and unpretentious,” says COO Rose Marley. “It is edgy, determined and with a bit of Mancunian grit, enables start-ups and young businesses to turn risk into opportunity with an unfaltering confidence.”

Inspired Space 30: MediaCityUK (Worknation)



MediaCityUK designed and introduced WorkNation in response to demand for more flexible spaces for creative individuals and contractors who visit MediaCityUK on a regular, but ad hoc basis. It sits within The Greenhouse, the SME hub at MediaCityUK, and features long benches, a fully serviced kitchen, smaller, relaxed breakout spaces in a bright, open-plan room. Motivational quotes and inspirational figures are featured on the walls for quirky, decorative effect. It’s a unique alternative for those used to working from the kitchen table or hot-desking in corporate, anonymous spaces.

Inspired Space 31: Frazer John



The FJ Garden is the communal meeting area and general reception for Frazer John, the Manchester-based recruitment consultancy. The space encourages staff to actually take a break – to get away from desks to play table football, golf, Xbox, socialise – and creates an enjoyable place to work and socialise with other people in the office. It also underpins the vision, mission and values of Frazer John and is “a daily nod to the passion and culture of the business”. According to founder John Dyson, the rationale behind creating such a space was to develop a physical environment – in the city centre – that offered an area for breakout, meetings and refreshment. He says that all employees “are on the growth journey together and the space they work in is a huge part of that”.

Inspired Space 32: HQ



Each floor of’s Manchester HQ has been designed around a different theme, from road trips to car movies, famous places, unusual cars and the world. The team can go from a meeting in Las Vegas to a meeting in Central Park or even a cave. Each floor is also designed to be highly functional, with writable walls throughout the floors and meeting rooms, 40-inch widescreen TVs, and video conferencing, and each also has a diner or kitchen with free fruit, coffee, tea and juice. There’s even a beach – well, a beach-themed cafe – where you sit on a swing at the Starbucks Cabana, chill in a beach chair, eat in one of the beach huts or have a game of pool on top of a classic Ford Mustang.

Inspired Space 33: Bark&Bite



Every client who walks through the door at Bark&Bite Manchester is greeted by Tom Selleck, BA Baracus and Jean Claude Van Damme, which sets the agency’s tone nicely. The Leeds agency opened its Manchester operation last year in Queens Chambers, a Grade II-listed building built by Pennington & Bridgen back in 1876. Its large Victorian windows and high ceilings create an airy haven above the bustle of Deansgate, with the decor a combination of pops of vibrant colour combined with Scandinavian-style uncluttered minimalism. The space is entirely lamp-lit to create a sanctuary-like atmosphere and as the sun sets, it almost has the feel of a club VIP area.

Inspired Space 34: Access Point Ltd



A former magistrate’s court, The Old Courthouse in Southport had been lying empty for years before marketing and PR company Access Point transformed it into offices. From the moment you walk in you are confronted by bright light, marble and gold, a relic of Edwardian grandeur. From there you come into the renovated offices, formerly courts one and two, now a large open plan space under two huge sky lights. The company has incorporated original features like the wood panelling into the design, and has also reused old furniture to make a boardroom table, seating area and bar. There’s a Pop Art inspired American diner for staff to relax in at lunch time, a sofa room with foosball and pool, and even a roof-top terrace, complete with a furnished hut and some artificial grass for a mini crazy golf course.

Inspired Space 35: Havas Lynx



The agency’s Manchester base – known as Department X – consists of four creative pods, an editing suite, a social media newsroom, an updated and up-to-date creative library, presentation space and a mural of creation. “Creativity has the power to change healthcare,” says chief creative officer Tom Richards, “but great ideas rarely arise from being slumped in a swivel chair; you need an environment that allows ideas to be set free.” The place is peppered with plants – “plants not only bring a breath of fresh air, but also fill the room with green – the colour of creativity” – and Richards says productivity has improved “massively” since moving into the new office, winning 71% of pitches won during 2016 so far.

Inspired Space 36: Absolute



Absolute first moved into its offices – a 100-year old chapel complete with original features like stained glass windows – 16 years ago, and last year expanded further into the chapel, doubling square footage to 6,200, where its team of 14 creatives and designers work every day. The Bolton agency has designed the space to be as flexible as possible – the photography and filming studios, for example, have been used as meeting rooms, to host seminars and workshops, exhibit artwork and photography, and social spaces to entertain. The flexibility means the team never needs to go off site for projects, cutting travel time and cost. “The big bold colour scheme and graphics, different working zones, leading technology and quirky features give clients a real insight into what Absolute is all about as an agency, as well as what it is we’re trying to achieve,” the agency says.

Inspired Space 37: UKFast



Moving from its former rented base at City Tower was a big step but one that that CEO Lawrence Jones has never looked back on. “When we acquired the 50,000 sq ft shell of UKFast Campus in 2013, the only limit was our imagination,” he says. And that imagination has run wild – there’s a 300-seater auditorium and 40ft fully stocked bar, a balcony-facing zen garden, on-site gym and steam room with employee-led running clubs and kettle bell classes, pool tables and a gaming loft. There’s also a £4.2m in-house training and education centre that allows staff to study for a range of company-sponsored qualifications, from coding to shorthand. Productivity has increased hugely thanks to innovations like the tailor made light-up desks, which flash red when someone is busy and green when they are free to take on more tasks. Jones adds: “The team is so passionate and works so hard that they deserve a space like this, a home from home, where the carpets are the most comfortable we could find, each area of the office is themed for a particular mood or activity and they have everything that they could need, on-site.”

Inspired Space 38: We Are Ltd



When the agency bought the Grade II-listed Grain Warehouse on Victoria Quays in Sheffield almost a year ago, it had been empty for almost 50 years. Since then it says it has developed a relationship with the space that “goes way beyond just working here, it’s definitely become our second home”. Since moving in, the agency has had its best financial year ever, doubling the size of the business in terms of staff and winning several major clients. The space features 17 huge, steel grain hoppers – inevitably a big talking point for clients – and the refit as a whole has been very sympathetic to the old building. The introduction of big glazed spaces has brought not just “oodles of natural light” but also “a grandstand view of the ducks, herons and narrow boats on the Sheffield canal basin outside”.

Inspired Space 39: Liquid Creative Agency

liquid1 liquid2

Liquid has reinvented itself over the past 12 months, and earlier this year it moved into the Tempest creative community in the heart of the Liverpool business district. The space was, at first, a stark empty room, with white walls, exposed concrete floors and lots of wide, low windows to bring in natural light. Since moving in, the team has worked hard to turn it into its “dream studio”. Up-cycling has been at the heart of our design, with heavy use of reclaimed wood, plus a vintage locker for each employee, a bespoke, industrial style kitchen and bar, branded pool table and commissioned pieces of art on the walls. “Everyone who helped build and design our space works in the office on a day to day basis, meaning it’s a space we all take pride in.”

Inspired Space 40: Dentsu Aegis Network Leeds – Carat and iProspect

carat1 carat2

Earlier this year the Leeds office of Dentsu Aegis Network united staff from its Carat and iProspect agencies into one new city centre base. Around 100 staff relocated into the 13,500 sq ft premises across the fourth and fifth floors at 6 East Parade. The décor throughout the space “oozes a contemporary industrial style”, with lots of natural light, the use of vibrant brand colours with raw materials and textures to keep the space bold, bright and inspiring. There are a variety of break out areas, and for a more formal setting there are nine meeting rooms – named after Yorkshire men and women such as Judi Dench, Emily Brontë and David Hockney – bookable through the Condeco room booking software system. Staff are encouraged to eat their food together in the kitchen and/or roof terrace. Managing partner Annette Armitage said: “If I was starting my career again, this is exactly where I would want to work, it is such an inviting space and I can’t wait to welcome in the next phase of the very best regional talent.”

Inspired Space 41: Summit Media Ltd

summ1 summ2

Hull-based Summit’s offices were developed and designed to its staff’s specifications, with a family environment in mind. Each themed meeting room reflects the interests and passions of its staff, who were given the opportunity to design each area themselves according to their own ideas. These designs – including an Alice in Wonderland themed room, a ‘Drawing Room’ with plush carpets, beanbags and walls that can be written on, and a Music Room which houses a boardroom table which is also the world’s largest working musical table – were then developed and brought to life with support from the staff. There are other unique spaces, such as a conference call space decorated in the style of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and a ‘Great Hall’, inspired by Harry Potter, where staff eat together “as a family” for breakfast and lunch. Other surprises abound, with the agency saying that visitors “comment daily on our fantastic, inspiring and fabulously fun-to-work-in facilities”.

Inspired Space 42: Agent Marketing

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Agent HQ, in Liverpool’s booming Baltic Triangle, was co-designed by the staff and is the flagship office in the Baltic Creative CIC (they were the very first tenants). Vast and airy with high ceilings, it features an enclosed pod called The Tank that acts as its dedicated creative space, The Mezzanine balcony space, a ping pong table, a boardroom with dry-wipe tables so that everyone can write on every surface, a fleet of free bikes that anyone is welcome to use, and a green space filled with plants and sofas for breaks. Its guiding values are also printed in foot-high letters on the wall in the Agent font (Challenge, Conscience, Culture, Character, Credibility, Commitment, Courage). “Our office is lit by natural light, which keeps the space feeling vibrant. In the summertime we roll the warehouse shutters up and let the air and sunlight flood in. All of this brings energy, invigoration and inspiration to the space.”

Inspired Space 43: BrightHR

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When ‘The Pauls’ (BrightHR’s co-founders, Paul Tooth and Paul Harris) established the business in April 2015, they were determined to create the type of business they always wanted to work in. They found the ninth floor of the Peninsula Building in Manchester (which they called Cloud9) and decided it would be the “perfect space” in which to develop the business. The core office area was transformed into a meeting space, themed to convey a Jack and the Beanstalk ‘Land of the Giants’ space. Defying the traditional office layout, it features 50ft-long astroturfed garden including boulder footstools, bespoke wooden benches that can be used separately or brought together to form tables, oversized beanbag chairs that imitate leaves, tents, deckchairs, space hoppers as well as an assortment of plants – both living and inflatable. The office is also littered with things to play with, including space hoppers, scooters and football nets, and every member of the team has a NERF gun – leading to regular spontaneous battles between departments. The company says it has embraced spontaneous play as a way to “encourage the team to take a break from their normal working days whilst empowering them to change the way they think”. The numbers seem to support this – since moving in, the team is now more 18% more productive, with sickness rates down 30%.

Inspired Space 44: Agency TK

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Agency TK moved into Victoria Foundry in Leeds’ creative South Bank in July 2013, and has since significantly developed and redesigned it using the original Foundry features of exposed brick, foundry steel pins through the walls, wooden beams and large wooden windows. It’s added wooden desks, giving a library feel to the breakout area and wooden panels in the boardroom, while the downstairs has been given a slightly more urban industrial feel – featuring concrete pillars, gold edged light fittings, reclaimed wooden boards on our reception, art with attitude and industrial wooden plinths in the boardroom. There’s also a 1950s Triumph cafe racer style motorbike and the piano bar in our foyer.  “The office is also a talking point for all who visit – for recruitment, it’s a selling point for the agency and existing and prospective clients and has also raised TK’s profile locally as people passing are intrigued by our reception, particularly the motorbike!”

Inspired Space 45: The Neighbourhood

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The Grade II-listed building on Lever Street in Manchester had been damaged by a major fire in an adjacent building, but enough of its original features had been retained to convince The Neighbourhood it could bring it back to life as a contemporary creative space. The resulting refurbishment included the removal of non-original partitions and stripping back of the original floors, while a suite of meeting rooms added and a bespoke zinc clad kitchen installed relating to the pattern of the original t&g cladding, evoking memories of packing cases and the buildings previous use as a textile warehouse. The space adapts as the agency expands and contracts on a project by project basis, from a team of 15 when it moved in to 42 at its peak during a large advertising campaign last year. “It’s a home, not an office,” the agency says. “From the childhood photos of everyone in the team, to the 10m illustrated mural, to the long dining bench where we all eat together (the only rule is no eating at your desk) – the space is full of personality and humanity.”




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