by Shraddha NairDec 03, 2021
With health and well-being as their design focus, Uncommon is a workspace provider that operates on the motto of embracing flexibility while also creating a work environment that enhances creativity and productivity. With four workspaces already standing in Central London, located in Borough, Fulham, Liverpool Street, and Highbury & Islington, coworking spaces by Uncommon are designed with keeping in mind their vision to deliver a seamless working experience that incorporates activity-based working, biophilia, sensory elements, and ergonomic furniture.
Overseeing the design of each space is Tania Adir, the CEO and Founder of Uncommon, who has collaborated with several designers, suppliers, and architects for these workplaces and brought in artisanal and bespoke pieces for each site, which seek inspiration from a blend of Scandinavian and Italian design to elevate textural and aesthetic delight, while stimulating a sense of focus and calm. The spaces in Liverpool Street, Borough, and Fulham notably have been made in partnership with the architecture and interior design practice, Cousins & Cousins. The sites along with being a functional workspace, also host wellness studios, meditation pods, and onsite café to provide the sense of a holistic atmosphere reaching beyond the screen.
The key to these workspaces has been the comfort and health of those who occupy it and the processes of the interiors, lighting, furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E), and architecture are led with that thought in mind. Adir, who understands the importance of these elements, says, “Ergonomics is the concept of designing in the workplace to suit the needs of the user. The fabrics, patterns and textures are very important to us and to our members’ experience and well-being. We use chairs that have been balanced for posture, hand-selected direct from suppliers in Italy and Spain. We also have standing desks to encourage stretching”.
A driving difference that sets apart the Uncommon workspaces is the use of activity-based working (ABW) principles in the planning of the space and the interior elements. While the spaces were being planned, the design team kept the sense of knowing what work will fit which environment the best, thereby making workspace even more curated to the people. Adir explains the ABW principle, “ABW is a method, where instead of forcing individuals to carry out the majority of work on a designated desk, it encourages people to recognise that different work activities can be better supported by spaces and features designed specifically for a task”.
Perhaps the most comforting aspect of these workspaces is the attention to the interiors and how they have been selected to uplift the ambience by taking away the dullness of a typical office set-up. The furnishings and fixtures of each site have been sourced from Italian and Spanish artisan designers and are brought in specifically for their ergonomic qualities. Some of the striking pieces at Uncommon Liverpool Street include two large custom designed co-working tables from Riva 1920, which have been cut from a single tree trunk; specially designed Portoro marble bars; bespoke meeting room tables and side boards from Cattelan; smoked glass shelving; a feature fireplace made from perforated extruded metal work and hand crafted as well.
At Uncommon Fulham, the space contains a tall Ficus tree with plush velvet Designers Guild fabric, brass detail plinth and stained oak veneer edging. A four-meter bespoke oak wooden table on a brushed brass metal base by Riva 1920 and acoustic chairs by Cividinia Italy are some of the other stand-out pieces in this site, along with pastel pink sofas by Calligaris.
With well-being as one of the guiding lines for the design of Uncommon workspaces, the inclusion of plants, natural light and materials are key, whether it is for communal areas where people can gather and connect or individual pockets of space for someone to quieten down and concentrate. At the heart of Uncommon Fulham lies a 3.3-meter Ficus Nitida, which was handpicked and shipped from Holland. The tree itself is almost 20-years-old with a crown that is three-meter wide, a size not often seen in an interior space. The flora across all the workspaces has been selected to highlight a large variety of texture, form and habit, giving the places a sense of being with nature even while working.
The attention to detail seeps through even in the workspace’s sensory considerations. Everything from scent to sound, is curated to support a productive working environment. Uncommon has taken the insights of music experts for the creation of different kinds of playlists to suit different work needs. If a space is geared towards a more focussed zone, the music will match the atmosphere with a playlist that is calmer and slower, with lesser lyrics to avoid distractions. On the other hand, the playlists days in the week pick up a tempo progressively and then crescendos as the weekend approaches. Scents like lemon verbena, vanilla, and cinnamon are spread across the space, tailored to different moods and requirements of people.
(Text by Shreeparna Chatterjee, editorial trainee at stirworld.com)