‘I’ve reserved us a meeting-room for 1pm – binoculars included.’
Head of Facilities
I read the message twice just to be sure; and wondered just how far he’d put the meeting rooms from the lift.
Taylor Wessing was one of the few top international law firms I had never yet visited, so now I was more than a little intrigued.
Later that afternoon as I stepped out of the lift I was greeted by an array of imposing figures three metres high from a back lit art wall – striking, very different and refreshingly modern.
‘Mr Hutton, welcome to Taylor Wessing,’ a smiling receptionist said whilst offering me a chair to wait. I didn’t sit though, because I had just seen the reason for the binoculars.
The reception area covers two corners of the building giving waiting clients the most incredible view of London’s most famous landmarks, and it really does take your breath way.
‘We’ll have binoculars for waiting clients by next week,’ Tim Grant said next to me. ‘It’s going to be a first I think.’
And what a great idea it was. It’s not often one gets to see that kind of view; when arriving at a new company we seem to bury our heads in the nearest newspaper and amazing sights like that are easily forgotten. Why not take a moment to relax ahead of a meeting and appreciate some beauty – it can only help your temperament for the day.
‘The three metre high images you were greeted with can be very easily changed,’ Tim explained. ‘The firm’s long standing sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery gave us inspiration and the images were from German-based photographers Billy and Hells. The beauty of the design is that at such point that we want to replace them, they can be peeled off and replaced with new images. We are considering a change but unfortunately…’ he sighed, ‘it’s finding something that would compete because you see we’ve had so many good comments about these ones and… I wonder…’ He seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, probably picturing an array of three metre possibilities. Suddenly he was back: ‘So you want to see our forest?’
‘Forest?’ I asked, realising he was beginning to enjoy this.
Keeping client privacy behind glass meeting rooms has always been a tricky problem to tackle, so why not hide them behind trees?
‘We first went for real bamboo, but realised it just didn’t work.’
To create privacy glass it is usually frosted. However Taylor Wessing have gone with another look – a kind of woodland scene.
‘The trees change colours depending on the light. The building has so much glass, the light comes through and each change to the weather greatly affects how this corridor looks. If it’s snowing, or raining, cloudy or even once in a while – sunny, everything changes. Each day is never the same.’
Very different, corporate still, but adds that creative feel which once again lifts the mood.
And for clients arriving and needing to freshen up, there are male and female shower cubicles with fresh towels. There are also Taylor Wessing wash-kits complete with toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, shaving foam and flannel.
We walked outside to the terrace, which covers two corners of the building and has fresh cut grass and seating area for 80 people which employees can use for their breakfast, lunch or dinners.
‘There are also break-out areas on the floors below where staff can hold internal meetings or just sit and read or chat; this helps free up our meeting rooms, otherwise we’d be constantly asking staff to move.’
Taylor Wessing moved into their new building in 2008 and I can see it must have been great having the opportunity to set everything up exactly how they wanted – from scratch, so both the client and staff areas work seamlessly. Areas such as the daytime staff restaurant can transform very quickly into a night-time client entertaining arena.
Finally Tim said: ‘The staff got to decide the name of their own restaurant (“cloud nine”) by entering a competition – so you can see we’ve all been involved in the way it looks and maybe that’s why it’s worked.’
I think Taylor Wessing really has stuck their neck out with their interior design philosophy and I’m pleased to say it has definitely paid off. It was exciting and modern, but with a great feeling of natural space.