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Applied geometry – Tamdeen Group headquarters

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Texture and pattern enliven the Tamdeen Group office

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First impressions count – especially for a company that develops high-end retail malls and holds a luxury brand retail franchise.

For Tamdeen Group in Kuwait City, the move to a new corporate headquarters provided the ideal opportunity to reinforce its brand and mission statement, and cement its position as a prestigious international real estate development company.

Designer Yvonne Colacion, initially working as vice president for RTKL Los Angeles' Corporate Interiors Group and then with her own company, Colacion Studio, was contracted to design an office interior that would celebrate the surrounding Middle Eastern community and history.

"There was also a need to recognise Tamdeen's diverse workforce and its international profile," Colacion says. "The firm incorporates several business groups, which all operate a little differently. Essentially, we needed to create a design tapestry that would connect all these elements."

"The client wanted the space to be a celebration of the firm's cultural heritage, and it needed to be dynamic and charismatic. The CEO wished to make a huge leap into the future, with an office that would reflect the progressive nature of the business. The company had already commissioned a brand analysis from brand specialist Fitch, so we had a platform to work from."

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The main office, which occupies the fourth and fifth floors of a new building on the site of the company's 360° Mall, is entered via a streamlined reception area on the ground floor. The executive suite reception area is on the fourth floor.

"A sense of ceremonial procession is conveyed by the formal entry," says the designer. "It presents a sophisticated, polished front to the business."

But the entry is not all about hard surfaces. There is also a vertical garden behind the reception desk on the ground floor, which reappears in the same place on the fourth and fifth floors.

"The vertical garden provides a visual continuity – it appears as though the wall extends right up through the building, linking the different levels," says Colacion. "It is like an oasis in the desert, and it's a concept we introduced elsewhere as well. Greenery is a very valued commodity in the Middle East, so we added a garden area within the office, enclosed behind sculptural white walls that are reminiscent of flower petals unfolding."

Natural light is another key feature of the interior. Because the interior design was prepared as the building was going up, it was possible to add a large skylight above the reception area.

"The sun's heat is strategically filtered through various methods," says Colacion. "There are specialised UV films on the skylights and large windows, and a synthetic mesh window shade in a conference room. We also added a suspended screen of honeycomb aluminium on the lower level, which partially veils the top flight of the teak and steel stairway."

The stairs and teak landing are cantilevered off a structural column so they appear to float within the double-height void, further enhancing the sense of lightness and space.

Textural and graphic elements introduced at the reception area are repeated throughout the interior.

"We have played with textures and finishes to celebrate the idea of the natural world," says the designer. "We wanted to bring an organic quality to the modern envelope. Even the granite that features on the conference and board tables is called Peony and looks as though petals have been scattered across the table.

"Arabian culture is rich in detail and pattern, and Tamdeen has embraced this aspect of the design. On the one hand we have the highly geometric pattern of the honeycomb screen and a large area rug in reception. But we also we have more fluid elements, such as the sculptural curved walls and partitions, and the green abstract flower patterns on the Haworth workstation screens."

The modern abstraction of traditional Arabic patterns in the team room and staff kitchen area blend both these concepts.

"The design became a motif that dances around the entire space," says Colacion. "It also introduces a playful touch. While this interior needed to be elegant and uplifting, we didn't want to be too serious with the modern language."

Adaptability is another key feature of the office interior. A fully retractable glass wall on one side of a large conference room can be opened up to enlarge a multifunctional space that overlooks the void to the reception area. This space can be used for social gatherings and staff meetings.

To accommodate change, workstations are set along a spine that can be expanded or contracted as required. Office walls are demountable partitions that can be repurposed easily.

Change is also accommodated by the raised floor, which simplifies power and data connections throughout the building.

First published date: 30 June 2012

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Credit List

Location Tamdeen Group headquarters, Kuwait City
Architect of record SSH International
Interior design Yvonne Colacion, design lead and principal, Colacion Studio (Long Beach, CA) Structural and
MEP engineer SSH International
Landscape consultant Vertical Garden Patrick Blanc
Graphics consultant Eye Matter Design
Lighting consultant Bliss Fasman Inc
General contractor and woodwork Sadeer Trading & Contracting Co
Furniture Ak-Muhalhel; Al Riyash Trading Company
Tile flooring Black granite; limestone
Wood veneer Bacon Veneer
Vertical aluminium screen at stair Korban/Flaubert
Silk and wool area rug in reception Decorative Carpets
Custom sofas in reception George Smith UK, with fabric by Maharam; leather pillows by Edelman Leather
Coffee table HB Group
Lounge chair Matteograssi
Operable doors Häfele Hawa
Carpet tiles Shaw Contract
Wallcovering in conference room Silent Gliss; Carnegie Xorel
Conference table Bene from Al Muhalhel
Conference chairs, workstation chairs and workstations Haworth
Executive kitchen flooring Vinyl by Amtico
Bar stools Johanson Design