Sheppard Robson discusses global companies with local appeal in Property Week

26th January 2016

Helen Berresford was interviewed by Property Week about designing interiors for large, global blue-chip companies such as KPMG, noting an increasing demand for these spaces to be rooted within the surrounding location, city and region. Interior design is being used to show how companies are in tune with the local economy, businesses and community.

“We’re working with a number of corporate clients and we’re seeing a change,” says Helen Berresford, head of ID:SR, architect Sheppard Robson’s interior design group.

“Corporates have to grapple with global portfolios, but they also have to settle into communities and become more bespoke. It gives you the opportunity to take some of the more global, formal standards that join together the organisation - those are still pretty important - but to apply them locally.”

The article noted the work with ID:SR have been doing with KPMG across the UK.

“It’s partly about the local businesses the KPMG teams work with,” says Berresford. “But we were also keen to employ a certain sort of lyrical storytelling. So we designed elements of the local community into the colours and wall graphics.” An example of this is how KPMG’s Leeds building now includes an atrium featuring backlit current and historic images of the city and region, set behind perforated metal panels. When viewed closely, the images appear as abstract patterns, but from a distance the images of the local area are visible, the aim being to connect a global business to its immediate context.

KPMG Manchester office features work space with graphics on the glass relating to the region, as well as a tapestry-style installation in the lobby referencing both the city’s industrial heritage and modern economy.

“On one side of the reception, we were very keen to build in something that felt warm and friendly for people, so we threaded hi-tech and timber materials to give an almost tapestry feeling. The sense of space was created by pushing the palette of colours and materials,” says Berresford.

The more inclusive approach isn’t just figurative. Some big advisory firms are increasingly inviting their clients into their buildings, not just for meetings but to work alongside them on a longer-term basis. That too has an impact on design.

“We’re finding that some of these larger organisations are setting up co-working space where their clients can come in and work with them,” says Berresford. “So it’s a much more merged space. It’s increasingly common for some of the major players. This shift to being more social and convivial, reflecting local places in buildings and making clients feel more at home, is fundamental.”

Property Week’s Adam Branson concluded: “So firms may still be wedded to their corporate identity, but they are also recognising that it makes good business sense to respect local differences.”

Helen Berresford RIBA

Partner, Head of ID:SR