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Red brick knitting mill gets a creative rethink

Positioned on the fourth level of the red brick building, the 500-square-metre floor plate enjoys unimpeded views over Melbourne’s skyline on one side and views over the Richmond streets on the other.

The architects’ brief included integrating the company’s corporate colours,apple green and a soft fuschia pink.

The architects’ brief included integrating the company’s corporate colours,apple green and a soft fuschia pink.Credit:Willem Du Toit

The architects’ brief not only included integrating the company’s corporate colours, an apple green and a soft fuschia pink, but also the need to convey the way it operates and its approach to working with new and existing clients.

So rather than the traditional office typology with a reception counter immediately outside a lift as the first point of call, here visitors are greeted by a faceted mirrored wall that literally throws out numerous refracted images, distorts the spaces, and beckons one towards the reception area at the furthest point of the office, connected to a bar.

“The idea was to allow people visiting for the first time to walk past all the different spaces and see some of the workings involved,” says Stribley.

This promenade also includes a delightful installation of macrame, a wool installation by Peter King Studio, in varying hues of coloured wool, including pinks and greens, homage to the rich history of the knitting mill that once occupied the entire building.

The nine-metre-long bar that features the reception counter at one end.

The nine-metre-long bar that features the reception counter at one end.Credit:Willem Du Toit

The company’s logo, featuring as a fluorescent installation on a wall outside the lift, combined with a couple of rocks placed on the floor, also reflects on the company’s approach: the idea of Tinker Bell, a character in the Disney movie, Peter Pan, and The Thinker, a famous sculpture by August Rodin placed on a stone pedestal in a state of contemplation.

The many spaces provided by Cera Stribley certainly activate both the mind and senses.

There’s the enclosed pod referred to as the psychologist’s booth, complete with a Sigmund Freud-style signature lounge.

Other areas are slightly more conventional such as the glass-framed meeting areas referred to as ‘Think Tanks’.

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There are other enclosed areas, such as the board room and several meeting areas, each one featuring super graphics of well-known thinkers and makers, with overscaled half portraits combined on each glass door: scientist Stephen Hawkins, SBS television presenter Lee Lin Chin and famous artists, such as the legendary artist Pablo Picasso, who also clearly falls into the thinking category.

Although there are various working and meeting areas, including open plan workstations, some areas on the edge of the floor plate resemble a cafe more than a workplace.

Pale fuschia and apple green banquette-style seating, for example, supported by matching rope, feature mirror at its base to create a sense of floating.

As unusual is the nine-metre-long bar that features the reception counter at one end, finished in a rose-pink resin and backed by mirrors.

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“People tend to catch up here for informal meetings, but the bar is also popular for social events or Friday night get-togethers,” says Stribley.

In between the highly refined areas, are the raw ceilings, with exposed ducts, simply sprayed white, and timber flooring.

For those new to the Thinkerbell scene, taking the walk down the central isle for the first time must spur a rethink in how office spaces can be addressed.

“It’s a place for thinkers and tinkers.

It’s also a place designed to create energy, both though the colour palette, and, as importantly, the ideas,” adds Stribley.

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