And it might be Australia’s prettiest workspace.
With a kaleidoscope of futuristic lighting shining on pastel-coloured furnishings, the office space at Ambience Lighting looks like it was designed for a Wes Anderson-directed episode of Star Trek. Employees work under individually customised acoustic lighting panels in the ceiling, with human-centric illumination at the heart of the design – that is, lights are tuned to people’s circadian rhythms so they won't disrupt sleep cycles.
It all sounds pretty complex, but according to managing director David Justice, the design brief was simple. “We just needed a space where people wanted to come to work every day,” says Justice. “On the weekend you can be in nice spaces, enjoying good food and good company, then when you go back to work sometimes it feels like the complete opposite.”
The space changes colour throughout the day to complement the light that filters in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Employees can also customise the light on their desks via mobile app or bluetooth panels scattered around the office.
It’s not all about looks, though – the office was designed with community and functionality in mind. “It’s an interactive and collaborative space. We’ve got numerous breakout zones and meeting areas, and flexibility with where you can work,” says Justice. “The kitchen was a central part of the design as well. We wanted to encourage people to interact there, and it’s become a hub – it acts like a cafe.”
Because Ambience is an architectural lighting company, there was added pressure on the Studio Y design team to nail the brief. “When we sat down and did the design, we mapped out three things: We wanted to have no downlights and create human-centric lighting, and we had to win an award,” says Justice. “If we’re lighting designers and we’re building an office centred around lighting design, then we’ve got to win something.”
And they did. Ambience and Studio Y won the award for best interior lighting scheme at London’s Darc Awards, along with the award for workplace lighting at the LIT Lighting Design Awards in Los Angeles. They also received a commendation at the Lighting Design Awards in London and were runners-up in the workplace interior design category at the Melbourne Design Awards.
The project came about after 10 years of operations in a “dingy” Fairfield office with no natural light. After searching for a new inner-city space for a few years, the Ambience team decided to relocate to Bundoora, as the larger site would be more suitable for the company’s manufacturing needs. But that wasn’t the only reason.
“As ridiculous as it sounds, the only thing holding us back initially was probably the food offering,” says Justice. “It’s important to have a good workspace, but something else people enjoy is having access to good food and we wanted to have that every day at work. As soon as Uber Eats expanded to Bundoora, we knew it was time to go!”
Photography: Ben Glezer
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