Content House Group director Jesmond Bonello recalls how back in 2005, the company began operating out of a small office in St Julian’s. “There were three employees for the first year and a half, so it suited us well, but by 2008, staff numbers had grown to eight, and every inch of available space was utilised, including the kitchen. We made the decision to move to our current office block in 2009,” he says.
At the time, the directors didn’t anticipate that the company would grow much more than that, so they designed and equipped their offices across one floor. Fast forward to 2015, and staff numbers stood at 20 and counting – leading to the extension of the Content House offices over another level, moving the sales team up to the penthouse.
“We wanted a more balanced and comfortable environment for our employees. It is important for the sales team to be together in one space as they motivate and rely on one another, but the space downstairs was getting too crammed,” Mr Bonello says.
The new layout on the penthouse level gives the team the best of both worlds – a feeling of space while still being together, as well as a large opening to the back terrace, which lets in light and offers views reaching up to Mdina, despite the office being in an industrial area.
“The floor plan was designed in such a way as to allow the maximum amount of light possible to flow through the space,” Mr Bonello continues. The space was opened up through the use of large apertures and far fewer closed offices, which were separated with glass partitions in place of walls. Meanwhile, when it came to décor, the use of industrial elements such as exposed concrete ceilings and factory-style pendant lights, as well as bold touches in the form of statement wallpaper and artwork created a far less formal feel that better reflected the young team. It was this effect that led to the redesign of the existing floor below, bringing them closer together in look and feel.
“After completion of the penthouse level, we decided to carry out significant works on the existing floor to bring it more in line with the cleaner, brighter and more casual approach we adopted upstairs. This wasn’t an easy decision as it was still relatively new, but we felt it would be beneficial to the team and company as a whole,” says Mr Bonello. Structural changes downstairs included opening up a number of existing offices to achieve more of an open-plan feel, as well as introducing more storage space.
The previously large director’s office was transformed into the editorial department, with the existing wall being taken down and replaced with glass. Meanwhile, a wall separating an existing office was also removed to open up space for the design studio. Throughout, previously installed opaque glass partitions were replaced with clear glass to promote a sense of openness and transparency, while a new ventilation system was installed to improve air circulation. A natural feel within the urban area was also added through the use of greenery.
The result is a lighter, more casual working environment which is equal parts playful and smart. Interesting elements such as artificial turf flooring, statement furniture as well as graphic wallpaper injected a fun flair, while multi-purpose spaces such as the upstairs kitchen – which can be folded away to resemble ordinary cabinetry – and downstairs meeting room – which can be used for both socialising and formal meetings – give the offices an added element of multi-functionality that is a must within contemporary working environments. Meanwhile, furniture with simple lines helped to avoid a strictly corporate look and the use of home décor items and knick knacks gave the offices a welcoming and modern, homely feel.
This is a snippet. Read the full feature on the latest issue of the Commercial Courier.