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Leading by example – interior design firm M Moser’s new Hong Kong head office

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Group managing director at M Moser Associates John Sellery talks about the company’s new premises and where office design is heading

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M Moser Associates is recognised as one of the largest workplace design providers globally in Interior Design’s Top 100 Giants survey. With the impending demolition of our old offices in Quarry Bay, we saw the opportunity to develop a workplace that not only empowered our teams to serve our stronger and broader clients base, but also redefine our work and culture. We were eager to address the fundamental nature of the work activities that our design community performs. Our new workplace environment more accurately reflects that our priority is our people, and responds to how they want to work and feel through the day.

In our previous offices, we had a one-size-fits-all solution, where each person was assigned a desk in their team area, with limited collaboration space and a distinct delineation between client and staff areas. In the new office, we understand and address that not every team works in the same way – and not every individual works the same way. Therefore, we have increased the diversity of settings to cater for different people and different activities.

Our new office is split into multi-disciplinary teams, with designers, strategists, engineers and construction managers all working together. Each team is still generally located in a zone. However, the lines between are blurred, with shared spaces designed for both focus and collaboration to allow people to work away from their team.

In our office, we have gone a step further to reflect our egalitarian culture by creating an open and transparent entrance so that every visitor has the experience of being part of our teams and work.

We’ve integrated our café, breakout and meeting spaces in the entrance to empower our people’s entrepreneurial spirit in welcoming our clients, partners and visiting colleagues to join our collaborative team and to enhance the natural joy of creating together.

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The design’s egalitarian approach allows our people to define their own path and create organic synergies in the way they do their work. Essentially, there are three key features of our new people and wellness-centric space: lighting, greenery and the café area.

The café space is one of the main features, and it’s the first area you experience when you walk into the office. It’s unlike a traditional office kitchen and feels more like a café.

With a large reclaimed timber top, industrial lighting and black and white patterned floor tiles, the space is warm and welcoming for clients and staff alike. The café also supports town halls and client events, utilising an array of technologies that are integrated within the space.

Greenery also plays a very important role in aesthetics, sustainability, wellness and the productivity of our people in the office. Greenery is vital in supporting the emotional and mental health of our people. Studies have shown greenery provides a calming influence and is instrumental in supporting people’s creativity. As a result, the office design intentionally integrates plant life into the space through organic circulation paths, suspended from ceilings, on furniture and at common work points.

Lighting is also key to creating a people-centric environment. Beginning with a sustainable LED responsive lighting system, we created pools of light and varying light levels, to support different ways of working. By leveraging an open ceiling with varying heights, we were able to vary light types and directions. Paper intensive work might require higher lighting levels whereas technology-focused spaces may require lower levels, for example. This lighting approach helps alleviate eyestrain and creates different moods throughout the office.

Our focus is our people, therefore health and wellbeing are paramount to the office. To this end, we’ve incorporated greenery, non-toxic materials, variable lighting levels, air filtration systems, ergonomic furniture and many more sustainability and well-being initiatives.

We aimed to source all our materials sustainably and locally. The main finishes are plywood, reclaimed timber, black metal frames and recycled furniture. In some cases, we also made our own, which is generally greener than shipping furniture globally.

Besides the environmental reasons for designing and manufacturing our own furniture, our design process was collaborative and creative for all staff. Our designers built mock-up furniture from furniture items in the existing office. This process allowed everyone to collaboratively pilot solutions that ultimately developed unique ways to address many of our day-to-day needs.

Our new Hong Kong office has gained LEED Gold Certification, RESET, WELL Platinum Pre-Certification and BEAM targeting in Gold Certification. Effective green thinking requires a holistic approach to design beyond the physical and digital environment. Therefore, our design includes providing our people with fresh fruit daily, exercise classes weekly and a custom recycling service. Staff are now involved in the sustainability process and are very proud of what our office has achieved.

We invested a year to explore, understand and experiment solutions to enhance people’s ability to support and recreate our business processes on a daily basis. We achieved this by engaging our employees and testing different solutions before implementing the design. This ensured that the right physical and digital elements and technologies supported the behaviours that are key to our business.

We are excited by the recognition of our efforts from our clients, industry partners and our people, and are proud to have received an AIA Merit Award in the category of Interior Architecture. We set the goal to be a great example of the benefits of a workplace that fully embraces a people-centric focus – one that enhances the experience of our company culture and our people’s new collaborative work processes.

First published date: 09 May 2018

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Credit List

Project M Moser Hong Kong office
Interior design and fit-out M Moser Associates
Lighting consultant INA Lighting Design
Partitioning system JEB Group
Window/door joinery JEB Group
Hardware Jeb Group, and Hettich
Blinds Venetian blinds from WTC Group
Flooring Carpet by Shaw and Interface, timber floors by Laccy, concrete floors by Optimix
Wallcoverings Ecoustic tile by Instyle
Ceiling Trodiktekt acoustic panels, Knauf Gypsum board
Paints Resene
Lighting Muuse, Zenith, Haworth, Artemide, Infinity, Zodiac
Heating/air conditioning Daikin
Workstations Custom, timber
Office chairs Steelcase, BW, Herman Miller, Wilkhahn, Posh, Zenith
Kitchen sink Arnhold & Co
Faucet Grohe
Coffee machine Krups
Water dispenser Life Solutions