“The brief was mainly to develop a functional work/office space that was welcoming and at the same time reflected the company and its ethos,” explains Paul Camilleri, director of the camilleriparismode projects and design studio, looking back on the project’s outset.
The area the design team was tasked with transforming was the ground floor of the Sullivan Maritime offices, which comprised a reception and storage area which was already in use by the company. Speaking of what the space was like before works started, Paul describes the finish as dated and in a state of disrepair. “Marble had been used to clad all the walls, and this was showing clear signs of discoloration and wear,” he explains, adding, “the circulation of the space wasn’t well planned and was quite unwelcoming, with a desk blocking the entrance to the stairs. The décor in general did not reflect the company’s corporate identity, with a hotchpotch of materials and styles throughout.”
Upon commencement, one of the team’s main concerns was reflecting the company’s identity within the décor. “We focused on introducing mahogany slats to immediately link to the maritime aspect,” Paul says, creating a link between the company’s offices and the industry within which it operates.
Another primary consideration was to imbue the entrance with a welcoming feeling, as well as rethinking the location of the reception desk so as to create a functional space that would be easier to navigate through. “With the employees already having already worked within the space for several years, we discussed what was needed in detail with them, in order to see what needed to be improved,” Paul maintains, highlighting storage space as an issue that needed to be tackled with urgency, as it emerged that they previously had no way of concealing printers and numerous files. “With this in mind, the wall behind the main desk was built up as a floor-to-ceiling storage space. The entrance to the storage room was opened up to create an open-plan desk space with storage of its own concealed behind wooden slat cladding on the inner wall,” he continues.
In order to give more prominence to the wooden desk, the design team utilised dark grey panelling behind the desk, which doubled up as floor-to-ceiling storage that can be easily opened up through the use of sliding doors. “The previously closed-up meeting room, which was in fact never in use, was opened up as part of the rest of the space,” he continues, “defined only by the dark walls and wooden slats. This added a more functional two-person working space, with more storage hidden behind the slatted wooden walls.”
Meanwhile, a thick beam which was previously running across the entrance was concealed by introducing a lower ceiling in wooden slats to define the entrance space. “The same slats were repeated vertically in the same rhythm as the ceiling to line the wall adjacent to the entrance,” Paul maintains, explaining that “by introducing the lower slatted ceilings and walls, the entrance was distinct and created a clearer path to the reception desk. A gypsum soffit was introduced with a well-planned lighting layout for a workspace.”
Looking at the finished space, it is clear that the prominent feature within the reception area is the mahogany desk. Its reversed diamond match veneer recalls a classic front desk, explains Paul, who goes on to name mahogany as a material which features prominently within the overall design, further highlighted in the wooden slats, always keeping in mind the company’s maritime links.
Meanwhile, the beautiful marble floor was retained and re-polished, giving the space a luxurious feel. Unfortunately however, the flooring in the lift area was in too bad a state to be retained, so rather than replacing it with the same marble in a new finish, the team chose to replace it with an entirely new marble – ‘grigio bardiglio’ – going on to clad the lift entrance in the same material. “This way, we created a visual barrier between the main reception area and the rest of the ground floor space,” Paul explains, adding that with the main material used being mahogany, the rest of the grey colour palette was chosen to complement and highlight the beautiful tones of the wood.
Turning his attention to colour scheme, he explains, “a play of lighter and darker shades of grey were used. The lighter shades reflected more general light where it was needed, like in the staircase area, and the darker shades allowed for a more focused light, as in the desk space.”
The resulting space is one that is equal parts luxurious and welcoming – a striking yet warm reception area that serves as the introduction to a company whose ethos is masterfully reflected in its surroundings.
View the full feature in the October issue of the Commercial Courier