FIVE STAR ATTRACTIONS FROM THE MILAN 2019 DESIGN DISTRICTS by Nigel Tresise

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Our second round-up from Milan’s Il Salone del Mobile 2019 covers five of the many star attractions located outside the official exhibition within the Milan design districts.

Our eyes and ears on the ground this year belonged to align team member and designer Tania Mateos, who made the following highlights selection for us:

1. With her usual Art Deco inspirations re-imagined via a thoroughly contemporary treatment, designer Lara Bohinc brought us this great selection of ‘Sun to the Moon’ rugs and wall-hangings, with strong geometries calmed by a subtle and mostly neutral palette.

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2. Sometimes a piece of furniture really sets your imagination going and that was the case with this brilliant circular enclosed bench, that somehow manages to be classic and futuristic at the same time – Compasso Bench by Gustavo Martini and Testi at the Wallpaper HandMade X exhibition.

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3. A challenge to the norm came from Italian brand Latoxlato in the form of this unusual angled credenza. Sometimes different can mean wacky-but-unusable but sometimes, like here, it reminds you how refreshing a new take can be – Fourmosa Credenza by Virginia Valentini & Francesco Breganze.

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4. There was some great new feature pendant lighting this year from the Tala stand, including the interplanetary Magma and Sphere lights and the dramatic Oval Ceiling Light.  

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5. We’ve saved our absolute favourite from the whole show – including the official exhibition AND the design districts – till last. It’s from none other than design superstars Mooi. The ‘Party Singing Chandelier’ combined lighting design with music in any number of imaginative permutations. The smile-factor or element of surprise really can’t be beaten and Mooi yet again wins that challenge.

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We pick our ‘Top Ten’ pieces from Milan’s Salone di Mobile 2019 by Nigel Tresise

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Tania Mateos was align’s eyes and ears in Milan last month, checking out the hottest new furniture, trends and design ideas on display at the annual design-fest. Here are Tania’s top ten picks from the 2019 show:

1. First, from B&B Italia, the Table Parallel Structure designed by Michael Anastassiades – a beautiful detailed table; neat, clean and simple with a great solid structure.

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2. We loved the display from Danish brand Karakter this year, featuring furniture, lighting and interiors objects. The stand featured designs by Achille Castiglioni and Aldo Bakker, including these great metallic coffee tables by Bakker, with a curved sweeping base.

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3. Zanat showed some beautiful pieces with exquisite detailing, including both these stools (left) and a set of Nera tables designed by Monica Forster (right).

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4. It’s not the first outing for these beautiful laminated glass tables by Patricia Urquiloa, but they still make their top ten. We can’t get enough of their iridescent multichromatic finish, which reflects light differently depending on where the onlooker is standing.

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5. Mirrored table surfaces and reflectivity were definitely having a moment this year (almost enough to be a trend). Petite Friture also showed tables that reflected the light in the form of these delicate and beautiful FRANCIS Mirror Tables by Constance Guisset.

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6. A little added lunacy this year was given by BD Barcelona, with a series of high personality pieces, from portraits of Salvador Dali and high-colour sculptural vases to these pieces by the Spanish contemporary master Jaime Hayon – the DINO Armchair, Explorer Table and Happy Yeti Vase.

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7. There are pieces that you merely like and there are pieces that you LOVE. The simple perfection of this piece – the BAMBA table by Pedro Paulo-Venzon for Viccarbe – made it one of the latter.

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8. The tactile, natural warmth of wood was in evidence everywhere this year, though with a notable preference everywhere on show for paler timbers, such as this collection of clean and simple pieces from Finnish brand Nikari. Shown here are the 12 DESIGNS FOR NATURE – Apriltables, designed by Alfredo Häberli.

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9. Designs with a workspace application are always of particular interest to us and we loved this Woods Desk Adjustable from Fantoni, which has no T-Legs, but still offers adjustable height.

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10. Our final choice from the main fair was absolutely everything on the Walter Knoll stand. This was serious design – grown-up and elegant, engineered with precision and of the highest quality. Here is the Tama Desk by EOOS, but every single item on the stand was of the same quality. A cut above.

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! by Nigel Tresise

So I’ve been sitting here on my birthday, mulling over the passage of time (as you do when you reach a certain age) with the realisation that when we talk about design trends and the latest “new” ideas in the market, how much is actually really new?

April 2019 marks the centenary of Walter Gropius establishing the Bauhaus movement in Weimar and the modernist architectural movement was certainly striving to create something new and minimalist. Roll forward from that movement and the trends within workplace design acknowledging the impact of ergonomics and wellbeing on productivity and mental health certainly seem both pertinent, fresh and yes, quite new.

Imagine my surprise therefore, when leafing through Adrian Forty’s design classic “Objects of Desire” to see the following illustration for an adjustable stenographer desk. The original accompanying narrative explains that “to work standing for short periods of time is found to relieve fatigue. With the chair and desk raised, the change from sitting to standing can be made almost instantly” This find is even more remarkable with the publication being from L. Galloway’s Office Management. Its Principles and Practice, New York, 1919!

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All those workplace furniture manufacturers who are marketing the latest sit-stand desk ranges..Hmmm not so new after all it seems! Happy Anniversary Sit-Stand desks…100 years old and still going strong!

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR WELLBEING by Nigel Tresise

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Together with project and programme leaders, Seven Partnership, align co-hosted a highly successful panel event in November at the London showroom of Herman Miller, entitled ‘Is there a business case for wellbeing?’

align Director and Co-founder Nigel Tresise was joined on the panel by Seven Partnership Partner and Co-founder Chris Maddison and special guest Dr Nigel Oseland, an Environmental Psychologist and Workplace Strategist at Workplace Unlimited. Our Chair and compere was Joanna Watchman, a passionate advocate of the well-building movement and Founder of workplace wellness forum ‘Work in Mind.’

Here are a few of the major points our panel was keen to underline on the night:

Wellness & Wellbeing
Wellbeing goes beyond ‘wellness’ and is a complex blend of the physical, psychological, social and relationship aspects affecting employees’ working lives. It includes factors such as their working environment and how employees get on with their managers and colleagues. Wellbeing affects not only the lives of individuals but also businesses, the economy and society.

The Well Certificate    
The new ‘Well Certificate’ lists 250 items for the incorporation of wellbeing initiatives into offices. A couple of years back, only 350 companies had achieved it and that figure now is well over 1000, with France leading the pack. Will ‘The Well Certificate’ become the new BREEAM? The panel felt the cost could be off-putting right now, as it is assessed on a sq m basis. As a predictive rather than experiential tool, it also suffers from a lack of benchmarking, though could eventually be a marketing tool and signify higher rental values for agents.

Challenges
On-the-ground challenges right now were seen to include the importance of business owners understanding that wellbeing is not just a capital expenditure; the failure to bring big thinkers in on projects early enough; the fizzling-out of initiatives because of lack of proper ongoing budgets and an overly superficial understanding of biophilia. The panel felt there was a need to share empirical data across the industry and to quantify data before projects start, so that post-occupancy data shows true progress.

Wellbeing Key Factors
For well buildings, these include: thoughtful office planning and design / access to natural light and views out / management of glare / temperature control and acoustic control. A multi-sensory perspective is vital.

Responsibility & Leadership     
The future will include in-house Wellbeing Directors in most large companies, but for now projects must include HR personnel from an earlier stage, as well as FMs. Wellbeing should be measured, just as productivity and performance have previously been measured. A much higher impact will come from having a well-being strategy rather than ad-hoc initiatives and leadership is essential to embedding health within an organisation. Engaging employees has a measurable benefit on performance, especially as the best ideas may not come from the top.

The Relationship between Mental Health and Technology       
With the CIPD (the professional body for HR and people development)’s 2018 survey showing the mixed impact of technology on mental well-being, with 87% of respondents citing an inability to switch off out of work hours as the main negative effect on employees, what more can be done to monitor and limit the negative effects of technology in the workplace, given our increasing dependence on it?

If money was no object, what would the panel implement tomorrow?
The answers were nothing to do with well buildings interestingly, but ranged from stricter curbs on working hours and results-oriented rather than hours-oriented working, as well as curfews on out-of-hours work-use-technology time, following the Scandinavian example

Is there a business case for wellbeing?
Yes! There is a business case for action (improving the bottom line), a moral case (the ‘right thing to do’) and a taxation case (lost productivity and long-term sickness absence = lower corporate tax returns and higher spend on long-term health-care and disability benefits), with ‘health’ too often still being seen as a cost, rather than an essential investment. Well-buildings only account for around 10% of wellbeing outcomes, however. The much greater impact is from company culture. Business owners have to think about legacy. Do you want to be known as a pioneer and pathfinder or a follower and begrudger? Everyone is convinced the business case is there. The really convincing benchmarking quantifying data is only a matter of time.  

SPARK44 SHORTLISTED FOR LONDON DESIGN AWARDS by Nigel Tresise

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We’re shortlisted for the London Design Awards for the fourth year in a row! A great achievement for our team and also for our clients and their readiness to push boundaries. This year our shortlisted project is the London office of Spark44, already a finalist earlier in the year for the Mixology 2018 Awards.
Bring it on!

Work in Mind by Nigel Tresise

New website ‘Work in Mind’ has been launched with the aim of knowledge-sharing and the promotion of positive practice in the creation of well buildings and enhanced wellness in the workplace. We were honoured to be invited to contribute a thought-piece to the initiative’s online launch. align’s Nigel Tresise authored the article, looking closely at the agile working trend to ask if anyone is getting left behind by the latest changes in workplace thinking, whilst esteemed Environmental Psychologist and Workplace Strategist, Dr Nigel Oseland of Work Unlimited told us what the research really says.

Read the article here - https://workinmind.org/2018/08/24/is-anyone-being-left-behind-by-the-agile-working-revolution/

We're hiring by Nigel Tresise

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Mid-Senior Workplace Designer

We are seeking a talented and creative Mid - Senior Workplace Interior Designer to join our London based interior architecture design team. You would be working under and reporting into one of the Company Directors.

Key day-to-day tasks of the Mid- Senior Workplace Interior Designer include:

  • Running your own projects

  • Liaising and presenting to clients

  • Developing drawing packages and managing projects onto site

  • Be confident working with budgets

  • Driving concepts from inception to site completion

  • Developing drawing packages and managing projects onto site

Key attributes of the Mid- Senior Workplace Interior Designer include:

  • Proficient in AutoCad

  • 5+ years experience in interior and architectural design with particular experience of workplace design

  • Creative, innovative and ability to articulate 

  • Strong sketching and visualisation skills required 

  • Strong knowledge for materiality 

  • FF&E skills essential 

  • Proven design management skills 

  • Proven ability to work with within budgets 

  • Self-motivated, proactive and passionate about pushing the boundaries of design 

  • Collaborative with good interpersonal skills and strong team player essential

  • Strong communication skills essential 

  • Continuous desire to learn and develop 

  • Proven client management skills and project running ability 

  • Knowledge and experience of the workplace environment and progressive ways of working

Salary Negotiable 

Email us at studio@aligngb.com if you're interested.

You never know where things will lead! by Nigel Tresise

align Co-founder Gurvinder Khurana was asked recently to comment on the use of print and digital signage in the workspace. Her comments ended up forming most of the content for this great piece on trade show Sign & Digital UK’s website - https://www.signuk.com/sign--digital-explains/how-to-use-sign-and-print-to-make-a-workspace-your-own

As a result of the piece, Gurvinder was then invited to be a panellist at the event itself, held at Birmingham NEC, on Tuesday April 24th.

align creates front cover design for MIX! by Nigel Tresise

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We were thrilled, earlier in the year, to be asked to design the front cover for one of our favourite magazines, MIX. We opened the request up to the team and got some great results, with this one, by align team member Charlotte, chosen for submission. A great honour!

London Design Awards 2017 by Nigel Tresise

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There’s bit of extra shine on our faces in the studio today as we’ve been named SILVER winners TWICE OVER at the London Design Awards 2017! The new HQ we designed for Cathay Pacific in Hammersmith is the winner of a SILVER AWARD at the London Design Awards 2017 in the Interior Design - Corporate & Commercial category, whilst the fabulous late-night bar and venue we designed, together with client Ben Lovett, Dick Bird and Studio Juice, at OMEARA on Flat Iron Square in London's Borough is a SILVER AWARD winner in the Interior Design – Hospitality category, having already won the Hospitality Interiors Award earlier this year at Mixology 2017. Whoop!

Spark44 goes live by Nigel Tresise

We had a really enjoyable day’s filming recently down at our latest workplace scheme to complete, the offices for media agency Spark44 in the high-profile Derwent development, the White Collar Factory, on Old Street roundabout in Shoreditch. The project was chosen by the BCFA’s ‘Design Insider Live’ as a case study and align Director and Co-founder Gurvinder Khurana was interviewed explaining our approach to the design, along with the Spark44 MD and a leading client from Jaguar Land Rover. Watch the great little movie that resulted here - http://www.designinsiderlive.com/case-study-film-spark-44-offices-by-align-interior-architecture-design/

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Omeara London comes out on top at Mixology 17 by Nigel Tresise

We ventured to the Old Billingsgate market last Thursday with feelings of both excitement and déjà vu. Having been shortlisted at Mixology before, we have experienced the rollercoaster of emotions that awards nights bring and we were convinced this would be no different. We were up against some seriously big competition across both the Hospitality Interiors and Design Practice of the Year categories we were shortlisted for.

We must have been fairly sceptical of our chances when we submitted our entries as we didn’t think (at that stage) to book a table for the festivities. By the time we found out we were on the short list they were pretty much sold out. Lesson number 1 - trust your ability!

We did manage to secure some seats but not a whole table, so we had to leave two of the newest team members behind, which was a real shame. No chance of that next year. We shall be booking early!

When the time for our first award came up (Hospitality Interiors) I was purposefully playing down our chances to our team as well as to the other lovely guests our table from NaughtOne and Spacelab. I must have been doing such a good job I didn't actually hear the announcement and had to be prodded by Stephenie next to me to get focussed! It was majorly surreal making our way to the stage and, my God, that award weighs a bloody ton - a great doorstop in the making I think! 

A very big thank you must go to our co-collaborators on the project - Studio Juice and Dick Bird. It was a fantastic team effort and we are so proud of the completed work.

After the obligatory photos and a mumbled interview with some strange people in the bar, we were just about to take a well-earned comfort break when we realised that DPOTY was the next one up. If the competition in Hospitality was stiff the other companies in this category were legendary. There were, unfortunately, no David and Goliath moments here though as TP Bennett romped home on the back of that small, insignificant bit of work they've just finished with UBS 😂😂 Well done guys!

Awards update by Nigel Tresise

We’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded our third company award! We are winners of the ‘Excellence in Interior Design Services’ award at the Corporate LiveWire ‘Architecture Awards 2017’. Last year we were ‘Best in Workplace Interior Design’ at the same awards and in 2015 we won the ‘Best Small Studio’ Award at the London Design Awards 2015. This is such great news for a small company like ours. Of course, we’re always delighted to win awards for our design work on individual projects, but it’s good to be recognized too in our mission to do and be something different as a company. We are currently also shortlisted as ‘Design Practice of the Year’ at the Mixology Awards 2017, which take place later this month.

A Growing Team by Nigel Tresise

We've had an amazing start to 2017, with new clients, new projects starting and a growing team to support them. January, saw Charlotte Soulat, a junior designer from France, join us on a permanent basis and then at the start of March, Liz Hughes has joined us as a senior designer from JLL. Welcome to the team, its going to be a great year!

Happy New Year by Nigel Tresise

So the curse of 2016 is behind us and we start fresh again in 2017, and what a start we have! Straight out of the blocks with a new expansion project for Macquarie Bank in Reading, a new private equity client on the books too and our Turkish restaurant project in Berkhamsted starting on site this week. 

The site in High Street Berkhamsted was stripped out in December in preparation for the fit out phase and as you can see from the photo below, we have a great blank space to start with. Check out the project page to see more details and work in progress as the construction phase gets under way.