Pallavi Dean Interiors handed over its second major Middle East office for global communications firm Edelman. The Dubai office, a 1,000-square-metre space, located in the ONE JLT building, is the hub for Edelman’s creative and commercial teams and builds on the success of Edelman’s Abu Dhabi office, which PDI designed and delivered in 2016.
The concept was to create Cultural Villages – separate ‘cities within a city’. The ‘Civic Square’ (the main reception area) was designed to give the feeling of entering a boutique hotel as opposed to an office, where a custom-made wall installation by Emirati designer Khalid Shafar displays the black headdress worn by local men. The art installation is used to create a visual representation (in Morse code) of His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s quote: “To harness all efforts to serve the country and the citizen wherever it is”. The visual interpretation is beautiful and clever!
The main work zone for the majority of the staff is more playful and rich with a vibrant ombre colour scheme. The ‘Urban Park’ is different again. This is a public space with an amphitheatre and cafe-style seating – perfect for a lunch break, informal meetings and monthly company meetings.
Capping off the space is what we call the ‘City Lofts’. This is the most mature, sophisticated space in what is otherwise quite a playful project. It’s a flexible hybrid of a meeting room, co-working space and private office. Edelman staff are generally bright, young, millennial creatives in jeans and t-shirts, yet many of the company’s high-paying clients are banks, big corporations and government entities. The design had to bridge these two demographics, and the ‘City Lofts’ is where they collide. Wall art by Emirati artist Zeinab Al Hashemi, based on satellite images of Dubai, grounds the ‘City Lofts’ space in its local context.
The office starts and finishes with two bold interior architectural statements. At the entrance, the ‘Civic Square’ is the most dramatic space. The sweeping curves in an otherwise linear floorplate punctuated with a shallow dome in the ceiling is a powerful architectural gesture. At the back of the space, the eye is drawn to the skyscraper skyline peeking through floor-to-ceiling windows. The impression is very much that of the lobby of a boutique design hotel, with a blend of custom-designed pieces and designer furniture.
The final space is what the designers call the ‘Urban Park’ – more sweeping curves, this time in a step format, to create a show-and-tell space for presentations to clients and staff ‘town hall’ meetings. It also doubles as a lounge and café for staff, with café style seating and recessed nooks for privacy.
Blue is the dominant colour in the entrance, reflecting Edelman’s branding. The ‘Urban Park’ at the other end has tones of green and pink. In between, the interior palette has an ombre gradient colour transition and, as you walk through, it serves as a way-finder and gives each department an identity. The element that connects the entire gradient effect is a series of ceiling baffles that rotate slightly to create a dynamic movement through space.
The flooring features different colours of Interface’s Human Connections range, which creates the colour transition on the floor – further strengthening the ceiling feature. The desks, joinery and glass partitions all match the colour of the zone they ‘live’ in.
Most of the Edelman office design has a fresh, young and vibrant look (notice the ‘go bananas’ creative lounge and ‘hanging monkeys’ phone booth room). On a practical level, the design also accommodates a wide range of working options – sitting desks, standing desks, individual office spaces and informal collaboration spaces, as well as rooms with a dedicated technical function, such as a green room for filming.
Refraining from the oft-used commercial desk and seating systems, PDI aimed to create an eclectic mix with the furniture scape. For example, in the workstations, there is a conscious effort to vary the material and the shape of the desks. Some worktops are white, while others are in wood, each with a custom colour accessory to reflect the zone it sits in. Moreover, each ‘village’ has a variety of work positions, which are bookended by an arched standing desk.