Welcome to our Spacelab Advent Blog

By Hannah Mellow on 5 December 2014

We’re already feeling festive here at Spacelab and getting into the Christmas spirit with an advent blog, where we’ll be sharing our days leading up to Christmas with you. Every day you’ll find either new thought-provoking insights into evidence based design, a behind-the-scenes view of Spacelab, or get a look at some of the amazing spaces we’re creating. And of course there’ll be some Christmas fun as we share how the Spacelab team prepares for Christmas. 

December 24th

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Advent Blog! 

The Workspace Blog continues, the advent is over. Spacelab have certainly enjoyed sharing our advent with you and hope all our new readers will continue to enjoy our blog posts in the new year – we can promise that some exciting updates are coming up! We hope you’ve gained some insight into our work, read some valuable snippets of information or had some good laughs. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Spacelab!


December 23rd

Designing spaces that work

We realise that one solution doesn’t fit all. So when designing workspaces, we take these key factors into consideration:

  • Efficient Use of Space – Designing efficiently can not only provide significant space savings. It will also maximise performance and provide flexibility for how employees work now and in the future.
  • Brand Application – It’s not just about logos and colour: Installing core brand values into the workspace is much more likely to encourage behaviour that is consistent with the company culture. The aim is to deliver an emotional environment that enhances brand strength whilst allowing self-expression which will inspire existing staff and attract new talent.
  • Diversity – An office should be designed to support a variety of work activities, enabling employees to choose their workspace to suit their immediate needs. The workspace should consist of varying sizes of collaborative spaces, huddle areas and quiet rooms. This creates balance, fosters mobility and increases unplanned interaction.
  • Environmental Factors – It is important that the design of the building suits its inherent qualities. We consider the building’s shape and sunlight orientation to maximise its potential, creating healthy, life enhancing spaces.
Ogilvy Canary Wharf

Ogilvy’s Canary Wharf Office

December 22nd

How visibility in the office can make us happier workers

Our spatial analysis expert Kerstin Sailer provides some insight on why visibility is such an important factor in the modern office.


What can an office do to build new relationships between colleagues, foster new ideas and spur the transfer of knowledge? The answer is simpler than you think. Our research shows that high levels of visibility – in other words being able to physically see the people you work with – allows for a more generative office environment.

One of our clients in the advertising industry occupied two different buildings. No one particularly liked working in Building A, whereas Building B proved very popular. Our analysis showed very distinct visibility profiles: Upon entering Building A, only small parts of the workplace were visible. In contrast, Building B offered generous vistas and allowed staff to see what was going on.

So if the creation of new ideas and new knowledge is important to your business, think about visibility relationships in your workspace as a key enabler.

December 21st

Festive colour of the year 2015

Colour experts Pantone have announced their colour of the year 2015 – the earthy wine red Marsala 18-1438. And because red is a festive colour and we enjoy spending time looking at furniture, we have made a selection of office furnishings to match:

Pantone Colour of the Year 2015

  1. Workhouse Collection ‘Ella’ Diamond Back Sofa in Kvadrat Divina MD colour 653
  2. James Harrison Designs ‘Lucan’ Armchair in Camira Vintage Leather colour Maranello and in Kvadrat Cava 3 colour 662
  3. Poltrona Frau ‘Bob’ Side Table colour Sienna
  4. Wrong For Hay ‘Revolver’ Bar Stool colour Red
  5. Workhouse Collection Tiles in various colours with Marsala accents

December 20th

Architects stepping up their Christmas game

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your… bicycle wheels? Meet the architects who have designed an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree:

This is what happens when architects design Christmas Trees

Creative Christmas tree alternatives

  1. Christmas Bike Tree by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects – This tree is made out of 35 recycled bicycle wheels, with reflectors acting as fairy lights (without the need for energy!).
  1. V&A Christmas Tree by Studio Roso – This handmade tree is made up of 3.3 miles of elastic chord woven into geometric shapes that reflect Christmas ornaments, snowflakes and icicles.
  1. Abies Electronicus by 1024 Architecture – It may not fit in your front room, but boy is this tree spectacular! Located in the centre of Brussels, Abies Electronicus is an 82-foot steel-ribbed installation that comes to life at night with lights and music. Visitors can even climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city.

December 19th

5 pieces of furniture we’d really like for Christmas

5 pieces of furniture copy

  1. With a comforting sense of security the Knoll Womb Chair is designed to be ‘like a basket full of pillows’. It’s certainly something we’d really like to curl up in this winter.
  2. The Deadgood Tree table takes inspiration from a traditional farmhouse style dining table. It is the perfect setting for a family Christmas dinner.
  3. This chair is beautiful from all angles and has been produced since the 1950s. The CH24 Wishbone chair is part of the Carl Hansen & Søns ‘Chinese series’ and can be used as a chair for dining, breakout or meetings. We think the lacquered finishes are a playful addition to Wegner’s constant strive towards sculptural beauty, comfort and outstanding stability.
  4. We intend to take time this festive season to sit back and relax in Muuto’s Rest sofa.
  5. Another Country’s Table One series includes a table large enough to function well as a coffee table but small enough to be easily moved around should you need more space for, say, dancing. Paired with matching stools it is strong and solid enough to double up as the kids table.

December 18th

From Vision to Reality

Design can unlock the potential of your space, but without a well-executed delivery, that vision won’t become a reality. In today’s blog post, we have a guest contribution from Projectlab, who are experts in unlocking that potential. By combining experience with rigour, they ensure projects are delivered on time, on spec and on budget. See below a short introduction to what a project manager can do for you:

A good Project Manager will…

anage the brief

dvise of risks and options

egotiate value for money

gree a way forward

et the job done on time and on budget

nsure a stress free delivery

eflect on a job well done!

December 17th

Did you know these helpful statistics about M&E Engineering?

Interesting facts about M&E Engineering

Interesting facts about M&E Engineering

December 16th

Is your office a chat-friendly place?

British Airways’ Business Life magazine sat down with our very own spatial mastermind Kerstin Sailer to talk about the next generation of the office.


Interaction patterns of colleagues within a company.

Imagine an office where you were actively encouraged to take the long route to the coffee machine, where lunch breaks were extended by the deliberately long line in the canteen and where chatting with your co-workers was not considered slacking off.

These might be the kind of spaces our offices will be moving towards in the future. It’s all about serendipity, the idea that spontaneous chats and chance encounters between co-workers are healthy for the cross-pollination of ideas.

It’s an idea that’s already being pioneered by big tech firms such as Google and Yahoo, and it’s being revolutionised right here at Spacelab. The future of the office won’t be a one-size-fits-all-approach. “You can’t think of it as a machine where you input a building layout and out comes collaboration,” Kerstin says, “it just doesn’t work like that.” The next generation of offices will be about fitting buildings around people, and creating spaces that work with and enhance organisational structures.

Read the full article here. 

December 15th

Why you should consider putting a large open staircase into your office

Connecting floorspaces

Connecting floorspaces

Floorspace is valuable but often losing some of that space massively benefits the office environment. Here are some examples of what connecting your floors could do for you:

  • It improves visibility and physical circulation between floors within your office
  • It improves integration and interaction of staff by connecting the two floors
  • It adds an aesthetic feature
  • It facilitates navigation through your space by improving sightlines

December 14th

6 Homemade Christmas Decorations that will unleash your Inner Interior Designer

  1. This no-fuss rustic bauble – For the weekend woodsman/woman
  2. Or an edible centre piece – We all know that salad is for decoration purposes anyway
  3. A bit of origami swag
  4. This one your dog found – Get your Christmas forage on
  5. A candle, ready to party – Nothing wrong with a bit of office bling
  6. And lastly, this perfect excuse to open another bottle (as if you needed one)
Glue guns at the ready...

Glue guns at the ready…

December 13th

Rocking the Christmas jumper look

Spacelab had a fantastic woolly time at Christmas Jumper Day!

Looking jumper-tastic

Looking jumper-tastic

December 12th


Virgin Management

Musical chairs anyone?

Our studies of numerous workspaces have shown us that 40-60% of people’s interactions are with their immediate office neighbours.

Bringing people from different teams and departments into carefully planned close proximity can increase productivity and improve the office environment and culture.

December 11th

Top 5 tips for getting your office acoustics right

  1. Well considered room proportions
  2. Soft furnishings
  3. Absorbing wall treatments
  4. Robust partitioning details
  5. Water tight A/C systems
5 Steps towards great office acoustics

5 Steps towards great office acoustics

December 10th

Top 5 tips to get your project through planning

  1. Do you need planning? – Does the proposal even need planning approval? Nowadays, a lot of domestic and minor work can be done via permitted development  – always check on the planning portal www.planningportal.gov.uk or with the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine the type of application you require.
  2. Use the Local Authority Pre-application Advice services – This is an informal application that gives the LPA time to consider the proposal outside of the statutory time frames. An essential step, as it is the only way to get constructive feedback prior to submitting a full application.
  3. The Importance of Good Design – Achieving good design is about creating places, buildings, or spaces that work well for everyone, look good, last well, and will adapt to the needs of future generations.
  4. Check out the ‘Local Plan’ – Local Plans set out the Local Authorities vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure.
  5. Employ Spacelab – Always employ a professional team to take away the strain. At Spacelab we can assist you from feasibility through to completion, maximising the potential of your site. Please check out three of our projects below that we have led the design on and recently gained full planning permission for.

Click image for more information on these projects.

Queens Road, Hackney Road and Old Kent Road

Queens Road, Hackney Road and Old Kent Road have recently gained full planning permission.

December 9th

All I want for Christmas is my own desk

Our research indicates that more than half of employees, on average 56%, feel that having their own desk is ‘very important’ and a further 25% think it is ‘quite important’. How does this match the current trend for flexible approaches?

We have found that those same employees say they would be likely to use a range of facilities to work from if they were available – 58% say they would be very or quite likely to. Our conclusion has been that change takes time.

Many people will insist they still need their desk.  And they may still get it, maybe a smaller one, in a more intelligent layout, where people in teams that are already working flexibly may share desks and use alternative work points that actually suit their job better than the traditional open plan ‘desk’. The important realisation is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to office design.

December 8th

Going for Subtlety

After our Christmas party and Secret Santa present exchange, it is time to finally decorate our office to match our Christmas spirit. We have not yet come to a decision but when asking everyone to submit their ideas of how we should decorate the Lab, we collected some great – though not very subtle! – suggestions, including a giant inflatable Santa.

Christmas Decorations

Going for Subtlety

December 7th

Secret Santa

No office Christmas is complete without Secret Santa. Everyone at Spacelab was discussing gift ideas for days before ours took place. Naturally, we have compiled some of our favourite ideas.

  1.  The definite Spacelab favourite was the Ostrich pillow. Sadly, the retail price of £65 slightly exceeded our office Secret Santa allowance of £10, so nobody was lucky enough to receive one.
  2. While quite useless in every other scenario, tattoo sleeves were an absolute hit at our Christmas party and were not just enjoyed by the receiver of the present but by everyone else too.
  3. Party hats, especially the inflatable “Queen for the Day” crown! Simply because they make everyone look either incredibly cute or really ridiculous.
Secret Santa

Secret Santa

December 6th

Party time at Spacelab
At Spacelab we all work incredibly hard but we also know how to have fun and we certainly enjoyed our Christmas party. There was a renegade quizmaster, a party bus, and some great (and not so great) singing during the Karaoke.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

December 5th 

On Brand – Never Bland

Great office design should always incorporate the brand and its values. Here are some bespoke examples of how Spacelab have used a client’s products to reinforce their brand at the Charles Tyrwhitt head offices.

Find out more about the project on our website. 

Charles Tyrwhitt

Charles Tyrwhitt Headquarters

December 4th

Aqueduct Office after its Transformation

Aqueduct office after its transformation

Designs to get you moving

A dynamic workspace where people move and interact can improve creativity, and foster collaboration and the transfer of knowledge. Spacelab found that prior to the implementation of their designs an average of only 1 in 17 people are moving about in an office.

Post design we have found this average to increase to 1 in 10. A static environment becomes more dynamic and people are more likely to encounter their colleagues in an unplanned way. Time to get moving!

December 3rd

Today we are overjoyed about winning BD’s Interiors Architect of the Year Award. Here are the judges’ comments:

AYA14 Awards

Interiors Architect of the Year 2014

“Spacelab has tackled a wide range of office schemes including a corporate HQ for Virgin Money in Edinburgh, a contemporary warehouse style conversion for Jaguar’s inhouse ad agency Spark 44 and an office for ad agency VCCP.

The conversion of the art deco Greater London House in Camden was delivered for a remarkable £38 per sqft. This bold conversion particularly impressed the judges who said Spacelab had managed to pull off an original look despite the constraints of an existing building and executed it perfectly.”

December 2nd  

cycling desk

Cycling Desk

Be upstanding

Spacelab research across industries as diverse as law firms, technology companies and advertising shows that 84% of workplace activities are sedentary. Given that prolonged sitting has been linked with a variety of cardio-metabolic and musculo-skeletal issues, could it be time to get a cycling desk?

December 1st

Ever wondered what the offices of award-winning office designers look like? Here’s a preview of our new office, The Lab, on Wenlock Road. More pictures of our dynamic workspace on our website soon.

Come back every day to open a new “window” – you won’t only be seeing more of our office but will be in for a lot of other great surprises.

Update: More photos of our office are now online! Find them on our website.

The Lab by Spacelab

The Lab by Spacelab

Merry Christmas,

The Spacelab Team

Topics: design, advent, christmas, aqueduct, team, big data, award, office, architecture, charles tyrwhitt