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By forgoing convention, this office fitout highlights the dynamic, open business philosophy of a firm that places an emphasis on hospitality

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Corporate office fitouts form an essential part of an overall marketing strategy for most companies today. The image a company projects to prospective clients is as important as the product or service on sale.

For liquor and wine importer Swift + Moore, the move to new headquarters provided an opportunity to create a new office environment that would better reflect company practices.

Associate Tania Taylor, of Cox Richardson Architects & Planners, says the new premises in The Quad development at Homebush, NSW needed to be a flagship office for Swift + Moore.

"There was a two-tiered brief: to showcase the high-profile international and local brands the company represented, and to strengthen its own brand," she says. "The fitout needed to impart the dynamic, forward-thinking nature of the company and its internal culture."

Taylor says the Swift + Moore team wanted an office that would be different – unconventional and unpredictable.

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"The company didn't want anything that would look restrained or stuffy. We needed to convey its very open, communicative style of doing business."

Taylor says colour was always going to be a significant part of the fitout. The bright orange, yellow, red and black tones were taken from the corporate logo and used to create a warm and inviting reception area. A yellow, plastic-woven wall provides a bold, textured backdrop to the reception desk, which is positioned at one end of a wet bar.

"As soon as visitors arrive they are aware of the nature of the business, and there is a recognition of the brands involved," says Taylor. "The colours and the bar are designed to be inviting and warm and to convey the sense that this is the heart of the hospitality industry."

Taylor says the curve of the bar and the refrigeration unit create a flowing effect that imitates the swoosh sign on the logo. The bar top is manufactured from bright red reconstituted stone, which provides a highly reflective surface.

"We have taken elements from the corporate identity and translated these into something very powerful and dramatic."

Taylor says the lighting extends the notion of a hospitality venue.

"Rather than using predictable office lighting, we opted for hanging pendants that provide a warmer and more intimate ambience."

To introduce a sense of separation for the reception end of the bar, there is a stainless steel, woven mesh screen. This provides a translucency between the two sides of the bar yet clearly defines the different activities.

The area housing the reception area and bar includes a casual seating area, bar stools and tables, and a series of meeting or lunch tables and chairs. Two sets of operable doors allow parts of the room to be closed off as needed.

"As we have found in other recent corporate fitouts, there is a growing preference for public spaces that are multi-use," says Taylor. "This reception area can be used to entertain clients or to hold functions and product launches. It can also be used for staff training and socialising."

This area was also planned to maximise natural light and views, and ensure that as many people as possible could enjoy the outlook. Similarly, the best views in the workstation areas are available to all staff, with the siting of small breakout seating areas in the corners with windows.

Other breakout areas provide places for staff to meet and interact and are in line with the company policy to create an open, communicative work environment.

Taylor says that the open-plan concept was a change for many of the staff. But providing breakout areas and private spaces within a series of curved, polycarbonate partitions caters to all requirements.

Bright corporate colours also enliven this part of the office. However, the yellow and red partitions have been restricted to passageways to ensure they are not a distraction to staff. Within each workstation, neutral colours provide a more conducive working environment.

First published date: 23 March 2004

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Credit List

Location Swift + Moore head office, Quad 2 (Homebush, NSW)
Architect Cox Architects & Planners (Sydney)
Interior design team Tania Taylor, Catriona Roach and Catherine Cott, Cox Richardson Architects & Planners
Development team Lend Lease Development with General Property Trust
Project manager Bovis Lend Lease
Bar countertop Cristallino from Rocks On
Counter divider Fractal Systems
Woven wall Box & Dice
Lighting Bud pendant from Ism Objects
Barstools Bombo from ECC Living
Flooring Readyflor from Premium Cork & Timber
Casual seating, reception IOF Furniture
Paints Wattyl and Dulux
Breakout room partitioning Fractal Systems
Workstation system DAS Office Systems
Meeting room tables IOF Furniture
Task seating Gemma from IOF Furniture