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An open brief. No hassles with the client. No budget cutbacks or last minute changes. On a corporate fit-out project? Dream on, you might say. But interior designers, Amanda Pike and Lucy Moore of Pike Withers Interior Architecture, insist this was the smooth sailing they encountered when commissioned to undertake the design of Schroders Investment Management Australia's new offices on level 20 of Sydney's Angel Place, one of the smartest new business addresses in town.
"It was a nice job with a great client," recalls Pike. "They employed us for our advice and they took it. The whole team, including the builder and all the contractors, was fabulous and it was a really smooth project."
The international investment bank, with a head office in London, had been housed in dull offices split over two floors. "The offices were very conservative and dull," recalls Moore. "With the move to a single floor in Angel Place they didn't give us a restrictive brief. Basically they wanted something clean, simple and classic that wouldn't date but was also low-key - not too opulent or over-the-top."
"They didn't insist on corporate branding or corporate colours," adds Pike, "so we could move away from that and just create a nice space to work in. The front-of-house area is neutral, clean and monochromatic so we wanted to introduce colour to the workspaces."
The clean and elegant reception area is a study in texture and contrast, played out in a palette of neutral white on cream with bronze details, limestone floor and chiselled limestone panels backing the Corian reception desk and an opposing wall of New Age Veneer reconstituted timber panels inset with bronze blades creating a sculptural effect. "The bronze blades break up the long wall," says Moore, "and create an artwork in the space. So it didn't require a lot of additional artwork."
The same finishes follow through to the meeting rooms, with bronze door detailing and vision panels set in New Age Veneer. A meeting room at the end of the reception area is 'framed' in panels finished in two-pack polyurethane. Secret doors in the New Age Veneer panels down the corridors lead to service areas. "It's spacious, comfortable and clean," says Pike. "It's also subtle and low-key -you don't walk through and think 'wow!"
In the seating area, the floor is inset with carpet and Jasper Morrison's 'Low Pad' chairs for Cappellini sit with 'Loop' ottomans by Barber Osgerby and custom-made coffee tables in Calacatta marble with spun stainless steel legs. The finishing touch is a striking artwork with bronze details by Australian sculptor, Geoffrey Bartlett.
In contrast to the serene and neutral reception area, the workspaces and break-out area are alive with colour.