An eclectic effort to blend in office experience with retail parameters defines the approach undertaken by M Moser Associates to design the first Asian office of Sherwin-Williams, one of America’s largest paint companies. In their endeavour to showcase the ultimate experience associated with the brand, the architects have explored detailing beyond the space matrix bringing in vibrant versatility to the office ambience.
The office is housed on the 28th level of Vista Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a relatively old building that has recently undergone refurbishment. Though extensively renovated, the building’s architecture posed certain inherent drawbacks that hindered in realising the brief. Some of the most intrusive concerns for the project were the twin cores at either end of the rectangular floor plate, the double row of thick columns running several feet inboard of the floor plate perimeter, and the ‘scalloped’ edges of the floor created by its bay windows. However, despite the issues faced, the designers transformed this relatively narrow 11,500 sq-ft floor space into one of the most unconventional workspaces, deviating from the numbingly linear succession of spaces usually seen in offices.
The reception was indecisively placed at one end of the office, adjacent to the lift in one of the building’s twin core. The space was kept relatively compact, as the need for extensive seating was eliminated in the brief. This resulted in provision for a long v-shaped desk and staffs lounge within this parameter.
The wall behind the reception desk is illustrated with an electrifying graphic of streams of multicoloured paint seeming to pour down the grey wall. The opposite wall is a blanket of colours that takes the form of an irregular cubist sculpture with each cube bearing a different colour from the Sherwin-Williams paint palette.
Given this, the reception works to set the tone for the rest of the office space, which embraces a rather open set up with extensive glass elements and colourful palette. Tucked behind the reception are two meetings rooms, suitably named The Blue Room and The Red Room, covered in vibrant graphics featuring landmarks in both Malaysia and Cleveland, the US city where Sherwin-Williams’ headquarters is located.
Staged against shades of grey coded desk clusters denote specific work areas, while the conference room features chairs in the repeated format of four pastel colours, which help reinforcing brand identity and at the same time provide a note of visual cohesion. No office du jour would be complete without plenty of designated informal space. Thus, lined along the window are lounges with built-in couches and light wood floors, a welcomed change from the surprisingly dull gray carpeting seen throughout the rest of the office.
Angular walls help suggest a sense of movement through the work zones, while the workstations themselves are buoyantly laid out. Instead of the usual arrangement in ranks or even clustering the workstations around the columns, the designers adopted an unconventional approach and dispersed them at different angles.
Further to its open concept, with an aim to allow staff and visitors to enjoy the views around the office, glass walls and pivot doors have been heavily employed. From the designer’s point of view, this was particularly challenging – requiring an open-plan area with enclosed manager’s offices and breakout zones to be seamlessly integrated into a space obstructed by columns. This was partially addressed by clustering all three of the manager’s offices near the centre of the floor plate so that they positioned to adjoin the meeting rooms in the reception zone. By packing most of the enclosed spaces into tight core, the rest of the area could be kept relatively uncluttered, flowing and flexible.
Meanwhile, the intrusive columns were either hidden within the periphery of the pantry and boardroom, or transformed into decorative features with a wrap of graphics. Two more pairs of columns were transformed into eye-catching benches by filling the gap between them with an undulating floor-to-ceiling loop of multicoloured upholstery. The architects have maximised a comparatively small space into a flamboyantly spacious office by using simple yet extremely effective ideas with colours as its core concept.
Project: Sherwin-Williams Kuala Lumpur office
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Design firm: M Moser Associates
Design Team: Ramesh Subramaniam, Christine Teoh
Project area: 11,500 sq-ft