Sarah on Our 4 Angel Square Reception Space

Our Creative Director Sarah sat down with NOMA recently to talk about our reception space at 4 Angel Square “The most sustainable, smart-enabled office building in Manchester.” Through our innovative approach to interiors, we were able to help in creating an impressive yet inclusive reception that sets the precedent for the rest of this workspace.
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Welcome Sarah! Firstly, what a first impression as you walk into this reception space! What would you say is your favourite feature here? 

“It has to be the impressive ceiling height! There’s a double, nearly triple, ceiling height and that could feel quite daunting but what we’ve done is make it feel really impressive and welcoming as you walk in. We’ve included complimentary details such as full height sheer curtains that draw your eye up into the space and celebrate the light fittings and architecture around us”

Where does a design like this begin? How does JOLIE dissect a brief and then convert that into an impressive space like the one we’re in today?

“When we receive a brief from a client, one piece of work that we do is to really thoroughly research the demographic who will be using the space. We not only look at what age or sex they are but we delve deeper into what brands they use, what clothes they wear, are they sustainably conscious, where do they like to eat and what do they like to do? We gather all of this information and build a detailed profile of these people so that we can perfectly tailor the space to them. 

As part of that demographic research, we ask the client not only how many covers they need, or how many people will be behind the reception desk but how they want people to feel within the space. For example, some clients might want their space to feel really calming; while others might want it to feel really uplifting and energising. When we know the feeling the space needs to evoke, we can then apply our sensory-led design approach to create something with the customer journey and experience at the very heart of the project. 

By designing in this way, we have a strong reassurance that our spaces can truly stand the test of time because they genuinely resonate with the people using them, which is a brilliant way to design!”

What was the brief set to you for 4 Angel Square and how did you apply your incredible design philosophy to deliver to this? 

“The brief that was set to us by MEPC was to design the interior of this workspace reception. The architecture was originally designed by Simpson Haugh, who gave us a great base on which to add our FF&E designs.

One element of the brief that really stood out to us was the focus on community and sustainability and you can see this in the layout of the lounge settings, through to the materials we’ve used. 

It was slightly challenging for us because we were brought in towards the end of this project and designed the furniture, fittings and equipment for a space with an existing interior. You have to look at what is already in place and apply your design approach in a way that not only embodies our sensory, scientific approach but that also harmonises perfectly with what is already there. 

We always love collaborating with Architects on projects like this and we were given a great base to work on and knew there was so much we could do to help take the experience to the next level.” 

Tell us more about sensory design! 

“At JOLIE, we pride ourselves in designing spaces that are based on experience. Not only how a space looks but how it feels; and this is where our sensory-led design approach comes in! We look at texture and touch, scent, sound, taste and sight to create a fully immersive interior design. 

By focusing on the senses rather than design trends, our projects can truly stand the test of time because they connect with people on a deeper level than something of the moment like a passing trend. We’ve noticed that when you design by trends, spaces can open and have a honeymoon period but can easily shut down when the design becomes dated. 

All of our designs are backed by scientific research, which is something we’re really passionate about at JOLIE. We pick colours because of the emotions that are scientifically associated with them, rather than trending colours of the moment. For example in the lounge setting we’re in today, there are more yellows and orange tones where we want users to feel uplifted and invigorated. 

We’ve also created zones that feel quite calm and relaxing, with lower level lighting and furnishings; and other areas where the furniture is slightly elevated to feel more uplifting and exciting. This all starts with the senses.”

You have a truly unique approach to design that is so inspiring! We’ve spoken about how the sensory approach lends itself to colours and space planning but what about the furniture, lighting and other pieces within the space? How do you select the right ones that lend themselves to the feeling you want to create? 

“When we’re looking at furniture, fittings and equipment, we’re inspired by a multitude of different reasons as to why we select certain pieces and it all comes down to the demographic and the sensory experience that the client wants to create within the space.

Lighting is always a key focus for us and we select pieces to not just illuminate a space but from an ambience point of view. There are low level table lights and floor lights within this space, as well as the overhead lighting to really help set the mood and stay in tune with the feelings we want users to experience as they move through the space at different times of their working day.”

How important was sustainability in this project?

“For 4 Angel Square, we wanted to pick furniture that had great sustainable credentials and we have an amazing catalogue of suppliers, who meet our sustainability requirements that we can trust with our projects. 

This development was designed around it being the “most sustainable building in Manchester” which really resonated with our sustainable design philosophy. 

Our spaces are designed to be timeless and this is done with sustainability in mind. Rather than creating a space that will date quickly and need to be replaced, we look at creating true longevity through our designs so that we limit waste as much as possible. We design our spaces to be flexible so that even if the space needs to change over time, this can be done with what is there already, without the need to replace everything and start again. We’re really proud of this! 

We also address social sustainability within our projects. The people who will use these spaces are at the heart of every step of our design process and it’s all about creating designs that inspire wellbeing and connect with them on a deeper level. 

Our spaces are always full of people and being used to the best of their abilities. We get feedback from developers on our projects from 6 or 7 years ago, that they still look and feel just as fresh as when they were first completed. When you think about how many people have benefited from these spaces within that time, it’s really quite amazing!”

And finally, what do you think the future of workspaces looks like? 

“I think 4 Angel Square is a great example! It looks quite different to any workspace you’ll find within the city and that’s something we really pride ourselves on and wanted to create here.

We quite often talk about the ‘hotelisation’ of the workspace and how offices have changed from being really corporate, sterile and quite empty environments, to looking like boutique hotels. We’re noticing the ground floors of workspaces featuring lounge furniture and more comfortable seating, dress codes are becoming more relaxed and there’s more natural planting throughout.

In the post-pandemic world we now live in, CEOs are trying to attract both clients and employees back into the office and we’re noticing people are more inclined to come back when they’re working in an environment that not only looks great but works functionally and speaks to who they are as people.

We’re really proud to see this building complete and provide a best in class for the workspace of Manchester. It’s really helping to redefine the standard of what the future of workspace looks like.” 

See more of 4 Angel Square here.

Architecture by Simpson Haugh.

Photography by Billy Bolton.

written by
Jessica Gjini

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