Brief

With centuries behind them, Behrens is Manchester’s oldest textile company founded in 1834, a brand built on tradition and rich in heritage. Behrens pride themselves as forward thinkers and are continuously looking for ways to innovate throughout all aspects of their business. As part of their business strategy, it was a key priority for the company to reimagine their workspace; appealing to emerging industry talent, elevating the wellbeing of their core teams, and forming a flexible working environment that supported the needs of the business as well as the employee.

Behrens wanted to re-connect the various functions across the business and build on the brands culture. The brand understands the power of the experience economy and strived to bring this to life for their employees in a modern-day working environment, whilst elevating the brands history and heritage.

Approach

Office Twelve partnered with Behrens on this project, consulting on the design of the office environment split over two floors. O12 worked with in-house designers on the principle of reconnecting employees and teams throughout the space. An open plan approach provided space for the teams to share the environment with creative consideration given to drawing a distinction between areas of work, collaboration, and privacy. Lighting is critical within a working environment and was a key consideration within the ground floor due to there being very little natural light within the space. A key design feature to overcome the lighting issue was to connect both floors via an aperture through the centre of the building allowing the flooding of daylight into the ground floor, whilst also further connecting the teams on both levels. A biophilic approach was adopted throughout the design, bringing plants into the space for well being and calmness. To showcase the heritage of the brand, a display room occupied by decades of fabrics and samples was designed as an environment for both internal and external use.

The first floor’s primary purpose would be to focus on the employee, providing areas for socialising and individual activities. The floor would also feature showrooms where teams can share their product presentations both internally and externally. Behrens pride themselves as facilitators of health and wellbeing amongst their workforce and worked with the design to allow space that could be utilised for health classes and general exercise. Privacy booths were also placed around the space respecting employees who wish to have a little peace during their spare time.

Archived textiles and fabrics were used in the making of curtains, lampshades and other decorative accessories throughout the building, providing cues to the history and heritage of the brand. A storytelling wall in the reception area through to the staircase and up to the first floor unfolds a timeline of Behrens celebrating its heritage and accomplishments.

Impact

The new office maintains the company ethos and allows a positive working environment for all employee to thrive in. Whilst the office is not yet at its full capacity, those who have been working in the environment have expressed that the new design is very welcoming and projects a positive effect when you enter the space. The extra space and lighting within the office allows the environment to feel more elevated, the design provides flexibility in working and a modern feel which the previous space was lacking.

Direct George Huges explained ‘From the initial concept meeting through to completion, it has been a pleasure to work Stuart and the team at Office 12. I have personally led the project with the guys at Office 12 and have found them all to be professional, responsive and very flexible in the way they work. The space we have created has transformed the environment our staff work in, from a dated and cluttered ‘office’, to a beautiful, fresh, inviting ‘work space’. We are very much looking forward to welcoming all our staff back, so they can benefit from the huge improvements we have made.’

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