This Dubai office space manages to please both the young and the senior

Dubai – When Pallavi Dean and her team at Roar were doing employee interviews for the design of the new Edelman offices, they were met with a cacophony of different answers. The youngest staff members wanted to, literally, lie down on the carpet with their laptops. The senior employees, who would rather drop dead than drop to the floor, wanted more acoustic and visual privacy.

Instead of choosing one option, the Indian designer asked, ‘Why not both?’ That’s how the ingeniously diverse environments of the PR agency’s Dubai office were born.

For the junior staff, Dean created a special break space with bean bags where they could recline while parallel to the floor, with the liberty of writing on a customized wall and the chance to take conference calls. Oh, and just to drive the point home, the wallpaper features a pattern of rebel banana peels – because this team is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

In the Edelman Dubai office, vibrant colours and textiles allow for maximum visual stimulation. Furniture by Italian design company Pedrali complement exercise of the eye with a physical element in the common areas. In order, the images feature the Nolita stools and tables, the Ikon bench, Concrete table, Malmo table, Buddy pouf and Wow pouf.

For the more restrained employees, there’s a designated desk space spliced with tall joinery elements that act as visual screens – that way, employees can still focus while remaining accessible. For those who need an extra layer of privacy or want to hold meetings that require confidentiality, the Roar team designed a series of City Lofts that can be booked as needed.

And yet, the standout space in the 1,000 sq-m office is actually a hybrid of both: the Urban Park (see the cover image) is part amphitheatre, part pantry table, part hot desk, where the staff can gather to host client workshops, lunch breaks and informal meetings.

To lay out these spaces, the team employed a series of thorough discussions that aimed to get at the core of functional, sensorial and even emotional aspects of the office’s workings. Dean and her team wanted people to speak freely, so employees and employers were separated in order to nurture unconstrained answers to questions such as ‘What do you hear when you are in this section of the office?’ or ‘Do you consider these sounds pleasant or unpleasant?’ After a detailed gathering of data, the key findings from a set of more than 100 responses helped the design team make recommendations in the shape of a 150-page report. ‘It’s a painstaking process, but once you arrive to the two or three findings that best serve the needs of that client, you have the guiding principles for the project,’ explained Richard Dean, the studio’s managing director.

The design brief was to create not just a great office space, but a home that would help the team unite

But why were such deep surveys and detailed focus groups conducted in the first place, including everyone from the C-Suite to the interns? Edelman, as Dean explained, was really focused on making everyone feel comfortable and, most importantly, integrated: before opening the new office, the firm had been operating from two spaces in Dubai – the old Edelman office and the old DABO & Co. space; the latter was a result of the communications giant acquiring the local firm in 2015.

‘The design brief was to create not just a great office space, but a home that would help the team unite,’ Dean said. And while the end result makes an effort to divide spaces by working styles, sensory preferences and even colour schemes, it is by respecting these differences that the whole of Edelman Dubai comes together as a better whole.

The Edelman Dubai office by Roar (formerly Pallavi Dean Interiors) is one of the participating projects in the Spatial Awards - Office category in the upcoming edition of the Frame Awards.

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