Business / Global
A workspace-cum-members’ club in London, Beirut’s best in brand, sustainable footwear in Milan, global export facts and how would you spend €5,000?
From decks to desks
London — Workspaces
While working from offices adjacent to their famous nightclub, multi-media entertainment business Ministry of Sound realised the joys of blending work life and nightlife. Finding existing vacant workspaces in the capital unsuited to the social nature of creative businesses, they set about replicating that original dynamic. “We looked at what was available in the market and were profoundly depressed,” says company chair Lohan Presencer. “So we went back to basics to design a product to suit people like us.”
The end result is The Ministry, a shared workspace-cum-members’ club just a stone’s throw from the legendary venue. The space, which opened in July, gravitates around a central 22-metre-long bar and includes a 200-cover restaurant, terrace, basement cinema and soundproof music-production studios, as well as more traditional features such as private workspaces, conference rooms and meeting spaces. South London design practice Squire & Partners was enlisted to convert the former printworks, using its pared-back approach to restore original and industrial features and add high-quality modern furnishings.
Echoing the strict door policy of the club, occupants of the site in Elephant and Castle are handpicked to ensure that they meet the creative ethos of the brand. So far, says Presencer, this means a mix of businesses working in the TV, film, fashion, PR and music industries.
Almost all the tenants have now been found and The Ministry is expected to reach full occupancy by the end of the year. Beyond that, says Presencer, “We look for the next one.”
Beirut — Identity
When Mitsulift, a Mitsubishi Electric joint venture and Lebanon’s leading lift company, wanted its identity overhauled it decided to approach the Brussels office of Base Design. “The simple concept of going up and down was obvious because we could do everything with that,” says Thierry Brunfaut, partner and creative director at Base.
Mitsulift’s former identity failed to reflect its promise of a safe and reliable ride. “Just because it’s corporate, doesn’t mean it cannot have any emotional ideas or concepts,” says Brunfaut. “Our approach was much less technical and much more poetic, more about the elevation of people.” The logo illustrates both the literal movement of lifts and the notion of urban progress: the suggestion is that cities can rise to new heights thanks to Mitsulift’s expertise.
Milan — Footwear
Sustainability is close to Umberto De Marco’s heart: just over 50 years ago his father, Enrico, developed an eco-friendly synthetic leather material. Coronet Group, the company that spun out of that, is now a global manufacturer supplying fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton and Armani.
So when Umberto went looking for some ethical trainers two years ago and returned empty-handed, he decided “to create the world’s first luxury sustainable sneaker brand”. This year, having put Coronet’s expertise to good use, Umberto launched footwear firm Yatay (named after a palm tree indigenous to South America) with a line of trainers made in Italy from high-quality vegan leather.
Winnipeg — Furniture
Upon moving to Canada from Germany, Peter Tielmann noticed a lack of mid-priced modern furniture in his new home, which spurred the idea to start eq3, a Winnipeg-based furniture designer, manufacturer and retailer. eq3 collaborates with designers to create contemporary designs at accessible prices. Over the past 16 years it has established 14 shops in Canada and the US – but Tielmann still keeps 50 per cent of production at home in Winnipeg.
Q. What would you spend €5,000 on?
Answer: “I’d give it to Art City. Created by artist Wanda Koop – who’s originally from Winnipeg – it’s a great organisation that engages youth, particularly the underprivileged, in the arts.”
Big economies with big populations generally rely less on exports than smaller ones.
Exports as a percentage of GDP (2017)
Hong Kong: 188