Work in the living room | Monocle

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On the other side of a discreet glass door on Copenhagen’s Østergade, a buzzing shopping thoroughfare, is the domain of Muuto, a young furniture brand with a distinctly fresh take on Scandinavian design. Building on Denmark’s reputation for good craftsmanship and mid-century aesthetics, it produces pieces that are high-end but relatable; its gently coloured lamps, furniture and accessories look just as inviting in a modern office as they do in a home.

Muuto caught the attention of US design company Knoll, which bought it in 2017. “The US was already a significant market,” says Muuto’s marketing director Line Brockmann Juhl. “But the Knoll acquisition has been a great catalyst.”

Despite the change of ownership, Muuto has retained its creative independence as well as its HQ in Copenhagen. Its various departments had occupied the top two floors of a late 19th-century building for some six years but as the firm grew, its designers, marketers and sales personnel were increasingly resorting to using furniture in its showroom as workstations. Things were beginning to feel a little cramped but the brand held out; it’s not often that you’re afforded a plum space right in the city centre – and one with a rooftop terrace too. Eventually the wait paid off: the IT company on the floor below moved out at the beginning of the year and Muuto snapped up the space. Hiring Peter Bur Andersen of Danish design firm Briq to help with the top-to-toe renovation, Muuto could at last spread its wings. Now set across three floors, there are two airy, grey-hued showrooms, where architects, interior designers and contractors – looking to furnish everything from hotels and offices to residences – are warmly welcomed to try out Muuto’s latest designs. And the merging of showroom and workspace has happily continued. When MONOCLE visits, employees are working side by side at Muuto tables or enjoying a quick catch-up on the cosy display sofas. “It’s inspiring for people to see the furniture in action and it proves the functionality of the products,” says Christian Grosen, Muuto’s design director. “So many showrooms feel like you can’t touch anything.”

Both open-plan showrooms are unobtrusively partitioned by pastel-coloured half walls and sheer curtains in order to divide the collections, which are refreshed three times a year. The makeover took just three months and Muuto was careful to take the needs of its employees into account: the design department got more space to breathe as well as high tables to examine colour swatches and fabric samples, while accounts has been moved to a quieter corner. “This was very much a collaboration between us and the design and marketing departments,” says Briq’s Andersen. “We really tried to understand Muuto’s DNA, the colourways and tactility of the brand, and how to then cater for this in the new workspace.”

Evolving ideas about adaptable and homely office design have been a boon for Muuto. Those who prefer to work solo can sink into high-backed Outline chairs, while others can stand at high desks with laptops, sit at traditional workstations or work from variously sized meeting rooms. “Flexible office design is worth investing in to create a space where people feel inspired and relaxed,” says Juhl. “It’s an advantage for a company to acknowledge that tastes are changing.”

The set-up here clearly works for the brand. Staff mix at daily catered lunches in the sunny kitchen (created by industrial designer Cecilie Manz for Reform) while a coffee nook, library and roof terrace act as natural social hubs. “The informal conversations that happen here are valuable for us,” says Grosen. “Really good ideas pop up in these situations.”

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