Scout visits local wallet designer Bellroy to check its workplace sleeping pods, library and treehouse.
In 2015, local wallet designer Bellroy acquired part of the 1880s-built chocolate factory in Fitzroy. Previously used as an old retail showroom, the space has been redesigned to capture its true industrial spirit.
“We were also listening to a lot of design podcasts at the time about how offices were evolving, so we took a lot from those,” says Jimmy Gleeson, Bellroy’s creative director. “Part of that was trying moving away from the ’50s cubicle style [office] to create more of an open working environment.”
With the help of a few architect friends, the Bellroy team stripped the interior by pulling up the carpet and sandblasting the back painted walls to uncover the old brickwork. The original steel beams and trusses were painted black while the air-conditioning ducts were left exposed to embrace the industrial aesthetic.
“Given the office’s vastness, it was really important to focus on creating micro zones that were designed with a particular purpose in mind,” explains Gleeson.
“After mapping the space and comparing the different foot traffic in certain areas, we zoned the space with four key functions in mind – socialising, collaborating, meeting and focusing.
“The parts of the office that had high ceilings and lots of light were better suited to social or collaborative interactions, where conversations could remain open and swirl around the room. Formal meeting spaces, however, were to corners of the office where privacy was more available.
The breakout area was built in the back corner in a lower-ceiling area “to create a private sanctuary space with no distraction.”
Today this area features a fully equipped kitchen; a “treehouse” for employees to socialise in; a dining area, and a library full of design magazines, wellness books, and some psychology literature. The space also includes sleep pods for those who want to take a quick nap.
“They’re a place to put your headphones in and take 20 minutes to re-energise and listen to Headspace [a mindfulness app] for a while,” says Gleeson.
“I don’t think anyone these days can be accused of not being connected enough. Whether it’s our phones or laptops, Slack or Asana, we’ve got a whole host of tools for each of our staff to work with and update one another from. Given that pull towards technology, we created the sleep pods as a space to disconnect and recharge.”
Over the next few months Bellroy is looking to add a few murals to the space, a rope wall, and a “forest full of new plants”.
“You can never have enough plants, that for sure,” says Gleeson.
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