New traditions meet old habits
As an agile, multi-disciplinary design outfit keenly interested in creating healthy, future-focused and genuinely collaborative workplaces, Foolscap Studio undertook to revitalise their own studio as a proof of concept.
Project name: The Cloud
Studio Name: Foolscap Studio
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: Willem-Dirk du Toit
Their outputs for clients in the commercial arena traverse a variety of industries and personnel needs; The Cloud is naturally geared toward the creative realm to foster intra-industry and cross-discipline activity and thought, and represents a future for the merging of a creative studio with product design and prototyping, hosted talks, hospitality occasions and wellness initiatives.
The Cloud communicates Foolscap Studio’s belief that contemporary workspaces need to evolve to support and inspire creativity, wellbeing and connectivity. For creative practitioners, rigid boundaries are the antithesis of their needs – so physical environments, and employer attitudes, should encourage professional, social, personal and cultural fluidity and cross-pollination to positive effect.
An open brief
The concept of openness that permeates the space sets The Cloud apart. From more than simply a spatial perspective, the design intent is to have a place of work that flouts traditional structures, both practically and culturally. It is an outward-looking initiative that welcomes ideas, contribution and self-reflection. Productivity and client services positively benefit from having an environment that staff relish arriving to daily, where they can explore their interests, receive stimulating encouragement and pursue balance.
The brief addressed obvious concerns – such as the fact that the significant amount of time spent at work means sitting down at a desk for longer than can be truly healthy – with the highest quality practical solutions. Fully adjustable sit-stand desks and efficient, dimmable task lighting are fundamental. Each staff member has their own storage tambour: at the end of each day, everything from the desk (except desktop Macs) is moved there. Essentially, the space re-sets each morning and staff can choose where they sit.
A variety of discrete areas within The Cloud – house-like structures that enclose a flexible-use collaboration room, a strategy studio and a materials library and workshop – allow for meetings and other types of work to take place away from the desk. These zones and rooms feed into a larger umbrella concept of ‘wellness at work’, the focus being on providing as much opportunity as possible to nurture and stimulate staff, in more ways than just those directly relating to work production.
Homely and hospitable
Taking cues from three key areas of Foolscap Studio’s practice focus – placemaking, hospitality and residential – the space was planned to have a relaxed, inviting feel and a sense of convivial hospitality. The fully-equipped kitchen is at the heart of The Cloud and, being an expansive seven metres long, it acts as a ‘front of house’, a natural gathering area and flexible option for different meeting and event modes. Staff feel at home and comfortable to cook healthy lunches, which has a great effect on the mood and culture, as well as having practical, economical and sustainable upsides.
With obvious reference to the space’s name, ‘cloud’ as concept is key to tying all the elements together in a way that feels tranquil, light and approachable. It took a number of years to find a property that would be able to embody these characteristics. When Foolscap Studio founder and director Adele Winteridge was shown this first-floor, light-filled space up in the rafters, she committed to enhancing its elevated, wide open, high-ceilinged plan to finally achieve the self-imposed brief.
The palette is serene, with limed timber panelling, white painted walls and trusses, semi-transparent drapery, reflective surfaces and pale marble. Warm materials sit alongside cooler serene tones to hit the comfort level of balance.
The design concept also references the great contemporary art of our time. The interior starts with minimalist forms, populating this framework with dynamic and organic materials to create a textural, human and softened architecture. The result is functional, flexible, inspiring.
Yoga classes are held weekly, hosted by Light Collective and open to everyone. Ceiling mounted bike storage makes cycling to work an attractive option in Collingwood’s congested back streets. An abundance of indoor plants by Plant Society are for aesthetic enjoyment and air purity. Filtered water is on tap, and staff convene for morning tea three times a week in a breakout zone anchored by an open fireplace and Soufflé, Foolscap Studio’s prototype modular sofa-cum-conversation pit.