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Interviews

The technicolour dream! Kia Stanford's first steps into workplace design.

project stories x eporta

7 minute read

When Kia Stanford, founder of Kia Designs, made the decision to move herself and her team out of their WeWork office and into their first solo workspace, she didn’t realise it would lead to a whole new revenue stream. In fact, it was an experience that came with a lot of firsts.

Kia Stanford, Founder of Kia Designs.

As a busy team of four, Kia Designs works closely to deliver amazing residential schemes for their clients. The problem with their old workspace was that they had to work too closely.

The biggest motivator for the move? We were sick of pretty much sitting on each other's laps.

The co-working model had worked for three years, allowing the company to grow at the rate that suited them, adding desks on when necessary. They also loved the feel, buzz and connectivity of the shared space. However, it couldn’t cater for everything that comes with being an interior designer. There was no space for the sample books, mood boards, project whiteboards to name but a few tools of the trade.

“The spaces are made for a laptop and a person doing things on it, there is no room for anything extra.”

This is something we touched upon in our recent workplace 2019/20 trend guide, that whilst co-working spaces are booming, their model needs to adapt for alternative working needs and company types.

The newly completed Kia Designs office, bold punchy and totally on brand.
The newly completed Kia Designs office, bold punchy and totally on brand.

Kia made the bold decision that it was time for her company to have their own space, somewhere that they could put their own stamp on. The Shoreditch based location has a touch of the co-working vibe with communal areas, crittall windows and New York loft style plots. But their workspace has its own front door, and thanks to its incredible redesign, a personality all of its own. It isn’t huge at 321 sq ft, but it must feel gargantuan compared with the 90 sq ft they were in before.

“I had a rough idea of how we could lay the space out and then I shared my thoughts with the team.”

Everyone offered suggestions, mainly around storage, the sore point of their last office. They wanted to fit a lot in, but still feel like they had space to move around freely. As a result, the design was loosely split into three key areas.

Kia working shot.jpg

The end closest to the external windows hosts the functional bare bones of an office, workstations and storage. Sourcing for this area flagged their first major learning.

“It is completely unacceptable to have the lead times of a residential project in a commercial one. We had a 2-week crossover between here and WeWork and paying rent on two places was expensive. So when you have products that are on 4-week lead time and the chances are it will probably be a week late that's not good enough.”

Luckily for Kia, she selected TemaHome for the desks and Ocee for the office chairs, both purchased through eporta. Even though the orders were technically bespoke, they were delivered within two weeks. They are also a great example of Kia’s eye for detail and intense passion for the office to reflect the individuals working within it. Each team member selected a colour for the seat of their chair which reflected their personality. Kia’s, of course, was her signature pink.

Pin perfection, the cork noticeboards offer an ideal moodboarding solution for the team.
Pin perfection, the cork noticeboards offer an ideal moodboarding solution for the team.

Right in the centre of the room is a large multifunctional workbench, the creative hub of the workspace. In smaller spaces, every inch has to work harder, which is why this collaborative conceptual space also acts as a client meeting area and a lunch table.

We are really trying to keep this creative area computer free and the workstation area lunch free. This way you are actually taking time away from your computer during the day.

As a young design company, it is critical that this workspace works for them over the coming years too. The clever layout means there is enough room to expand the team to six without moving anything else or losing much in the way of free space.

One thing that the team had loved about WeWork was the array of working environments they could switch between. So whilst they don’t have 20,000+ sq ft to explore, this third space provides a break from the norm. Kia designed a relaxed seating area at the very front of the office, it's the first thing a passerby sees, and potential new clients walk into. But as with the other areas, it’s a hard-working space with many functions.

The amazing 'Brushstrokes' wallpaper by Charlotte Jade in the perfect brand colours.
The infamous Smeg fridge was kept top secret as a surprise for the team.
The amazing 'Brushstrokes' wallpaper by Charlotte Jade in the perfect brand colours.
The infamous Smeg fridge was kept top secret as a surprise for the team.

“This chillout space is a reception area and quiet space for phone calls. Also, the yoga bolsters are there so that the team can stretch out and work in a different way throughout the day. Just moving away from your desk and sitting on the floor for 20-30 minutes can change your frame of mind.”

This space also houses her favourite item in the scheme, their logo in neon lights, made by Light up North. The importance of showcasing their brand has been critical throughout as it was one of the key drivers for moving in the first place. Their brands bold colour palette has unapologetically turned the shell into a living breathing version of the company's design ethos. From the cobalt blue and pink wallpaper by Charlotte Jade, to the pink Smeg fridge, this workspace showcases the vibrant personalities of the Kia Designs Team.

The Kia Designs office- looking down towards the reception space and creative hub.

“Our designs are different every time and we love that. If a potential client goes through our website and says I don't like any of it, then I'm like great, let's do something different! We wanted something that you wouldn't quite expect in an office."

We wanted potential clients coming in to get a taste of how we really like to push the boundaries. And leave thinking if we can do this in an office, just imagine what we can do in your home!

This strong understanding of who they are as a company, and the image they wanted to project made the office redesign much easier.

“When you're doing something at home you have all the ideas and then you have to try and whittle it down. Whereas here selections need to fit the brand, so that's the colour scheme selected. The space needs to work, so the focus is on functionality and therefore the layout is easily decided. All this helps to really narrow down your sourcing searches."

Kia Designs logo in LED Neon, purchased from Light up North on eporta
Moodboard for their first workspace client's project
Kia Designs logo in LED Neon, purchased from Light up North on eporta
Moodboard for their first workspace client's project

Their head-turning scheme hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, it's made those around them reevaluate their own expectations of a workspace. One neighbour has already hired them to overhaul their office.

“Once complete, that will be our first office design, other than our own of course. It's got to retain that fun New York loft style, but their brand colours; green, orange and yellow need to be a priority consideration. Colour is so important in workspaces and often undervalued. But getting it right makes you feel better about where you work.”

Teamwork makes the dreamwork- the creative hub is perfect for collaborating on projects.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork- the creative hub is perfect for collaborating on projects.

I’d go so far as to say that Kia and the team have got far more from this office redesign than they ever could have expected. It has catapulted them into the realm of commercial design and I’m pretty sure this series of firsts will be the start of some amazing new design adventures for them.

Kia used an amazing array of eporta suppliers to design and deliver the workspace of her dreams. Find out more about these brands here: Charlotte Jade (wallpaper), Ocee Design (office chairs), TemaHome (desks) and the cherry on the cake Light up North (branded neon sign). Discover more with eporta today.

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