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Interviews

Jenny Jones for Accenture Fjord: Designing a creative office that works

project stories x eporta

When companies get acquired, they risk losing some of the cultural qualities that made them so special in the first place. Not in the case of Fjord, bought by Accenture in 2013. The global design consultancy moved into their new London office in 2017. Immediately they wanted to create a space which represented the Fjord personality.

Studio Jenny Jones, partnered with eporta Procurement, to bring Fjord's ethos to life. Spending just over a year meticulously designing a bright, warm and functional office. From the big picture concepts to the smallest details, this space is fully optimised to let creativity flourish.

Library space at Accenture Fjord
Library space at Accenture Fjord

Studio Jenny Jones

Jenny’s eclectic portfolio ranges from vast architectural developments to art centres. She founded SJJ in 2013, with the guiding principle that design is a catalyst for change. You can read more about Jenny's design story here.

As a teen, Jenny spent time with the Stanislavski theatre group. What she learnt then still influences her design approach today.

Her process involves creating “scripts” based on the projected use of the space. Imagining how spaces will be used, how objects will be used, and what the performance will be. As she explains, “I can’t disassociate the performance of what is going to happen in the space from what the space will become”.

“The built environment has a clear effect on us, and yet quite often design is still seen as a superficial add-on.”

Her time with the theatre group also highlighted to her the importance of collaboration. "In theatre, you have to respect everyone, from the lighting operator to the audience, in order to pull everything together."

Effectively leveraging the skillsets on site allows for a quick project turnaround. This perspective meant the eporta Procurement team worked as a natural extension of Jenny’s team. From respecifying to installation- we worked together to swiftly and accurately bring her design to life.

The Library at Fjord- Photography by Paul Raeside

Kitchen garden Accenture Fjord.
Kitchen garden Accenture Fjord.

The Meet Cute

Jenny recently collaborated with The Centric Lab. They research the links between cognitive science and architecture. “The built environment has a clear effect on us, but quite often design is still seen as a superficial add-on.” Jenny explains- "We are neuroplastic, and there’s lots of evidence to suggest that the environment affects the way your brain is structured.”

Fjord approached Jenny after a breakfast talk she chaired on this very topic. Her stance on user-centric design clearly resonated with the fjord team.

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The Brief

The initial project challenge was uncovering the sweet spot between function and design. As with workplace designs everywhere, there are strong regulations to work within. Fjord needed a variety of spaces, each fit for purpose; desk areas, break out spaces and meeting rooms. The overarching requirement though was a scheme that encouraged creativity and collaboration.

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The Design

One of the first questions Jenny asks on a project is what currently stops and allows the client's work to flow. “You listen to what’s missing in their day to day actions and think of what surfaces, spaces, objects would facilitate that”. In this instance, it sparked ideas of soundproof rooms and writable walls that everyone can gather around.

Followed by on-site research trips to the Fjord office, watching the current office in action. This helped to create the diagrams and sketches that formed the basis of the design brief. As Jenny points out, when designing any room- “You’re setting up a scenario that means from the moment you enter a space, the orientation, circulation and light mean you intrinsically know where to go next. An environment where people can flow, both in terms of productivity and enjoyment."

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Accordingly, Jenny built navigational elements into the design. From the “golden drawer” where keys and other important bits are stored to the distinctive “yellow table” where teams can gather. These features immediately serve as way-finding tools for employees and guests alike.

Jenny is leading the charge against an open-plan world. Having observed that rather than building teams, the constant interruption which comes from this setup can lead to resentment. She doesn’t want to see a return to cubicles, instead incorporating visual or acoustic thresholds depending on the requirements of the space help.

At Fjord, she went one step further, with the addition of flexible areas and furnishings. Just like a stage set, with moving sofas, tables and chairs (and a massive storeroom!), the team could create their own environment. We've seen the growing importance of flexibility within the workspace too, as discussed in our recent Trend Report.

Product Picks

Nikari XL December Lounge chair
Nikari XL December Lounge chair

Jenny knew that the key to sourcing was the provenance of the furniture itself. Each piece needed to represent the Scandinavian and British origins of the company. Aesthetically, they needed to look effortlessly simple and well-engineered, made from natural materials such as wood, leather and wool. This is where eporta helped, finding products with an authentic story and display of craftsmanship, from suppliers such as Nikari.

Vitra Cork Family Stools
Vitra Cork Family Stools

An office that feels like home

After all this hard work, for Jenny “it doesn’t mean anything until they’re using it”. Success is when someone says it “feels like home". It needs to feel personal, comfortable, and authentic to the user, after-all it was specifically designed for them.

She’s been back to visit and was struck by the effectiveness of the small, invisible details: a door that can be opened with one hand while holding a laptop. The staircase wide enough to hold a conversation and not block the flow of traffic. After a year of user-centric design in action, “it just works”.

Meeting Room at Accenture Fjord
Meeting Room at Accenture Fjord

Brought to life by eporta Procurement

There’s nothing the eporta team loves more than bringing innovative, unique spaces to life, so we were thrilled to support Jenny’s vision for Fjord. Whatever you’re working on, get in touch today to find out how we can support you through every stage of your project.

You can also read more about Jenny's design story here.

Fjord Design Photography by Paul Raeside

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