When Monocle and sister company Winkreative had to hunt for a bigger London base, they opted for greenery, mid-century architecture and a central location. Welcome to Midori House.
Subscribers and even occasional readers of Monocle will be aware that recently we took up residence in new headquarters. In the four-plus years since launch, Monocle, together with our sister company Winkreative, had grown exponentially in scale of operations and bums on seats. By mid-2010 coming to work at our beloved first home, a compact two-storey space on London’s Boston Place, was like a game of sardines. The cosiness we’d always prided ourselves on was close to becoming cramped.
Our portfolio now included, beyond 10 issues a year of the magazine, a weekly radio show, two resort newspaper publications, a TV series and five shops around the world. On the horizon were more projects, not least the launch of a 24-hour radio network later in 2011, and in order to successfully deliver and continue to expand it became imperative to find the perfect base. One that didn’t just fit everyone, but one that showcased a fully fledged media company operating in over 80 markets. Finding a space that accommodated our many, particular needs – and in London’s W1 postcode – was no easy task. But find it we did, in a freestanding, four-storey, 1960s building called Eldon House.
Perched in a courtyard on the corner of two quiet backstreets just off Baker Street it ticked every box. A stone’s throw from the Monocle shop and Trunk Clothiers (also linked to the Monocle world), it has enough room to comfortably park the 40 or so bikes that sail into work each morning, terraces on each floor overlooking the leafy Paddington Street Gardens, and original window fittings on two sides of the top three floors, providing plenty of natural light and a good cross-breeze. It even has some tasteful, listed ceramic artwork on the south-facing entrance façade. With the start of a new chapter in its life, we felt it appropriate to give it a new name too and, given its verdant setting, settled on “Midori House”: “midori” means “greenery” in Japanese.
Once the building was secured in November 2010, plans were drawn up, chewed over and tweaked accordingly. A case of love at first sight quickly turned into hard-hats and action and by October 2010 the small but significant renovations needed before we could occupy the building in early 2011 were under way. Winkreative’s Nicoletta Pedano, as design developer, and Jun Saito, as project manager, oversaw every single step, from master planning to minor details. We enlisted the help of some of our former collaborators and architect friends – Swedish architect Andreas Martin-Löf redesigned the ground floor, turning it into a reception area, a small waiting room and a staff kitchen and dining room, with thick Daimer Filze felt curtains that can be closed for everyday lunches and drawn to open up the space for events.
The ground floor will soon house a permanent set of radio studios from which Monocle 24 will be broadcast. Bauwerk oak parquet flooring was laid downstairs and on the finance and publishing floor, while Tisca Tiara carpets feature for Monocle and Wink.
The top three floors house Monocle, Winkreative and the executive team – conference rooms and our chairman’s office – in ascending order, the latter overseen by David Marquardt of Mach Architektur GMBH. Blumer Shcreinerei, our ever-reliable Swiss carpenters, packed their toolboxes and arrived to dress the reception area and add shelving, doors and cloakrooms with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss.
Furniture throughout is from companies and craftsmen we hold dear and it’s of little surprise that the majority comes from Scandinavia, Japan and Switzerland – ethical practices on the production line translate to good ethics in the workplace. It’s a case of practising what we preach.
Every piece was hand-chosen for quality and function over cost (within reason): the Novex desks, chairs and shelving (which act as low partitions in the office spaces) to the Toto shower and bathroom appliances, Rud Rasmussen cabinetry and Vitra aluminium series chairs to details such as a scattering of handy Artek stools covered in Johanna Gullichsen fabrics, Santa & Cole lighting, Grythyttan outdoor furniture and Hen & Hammock deckchairs for terrace dining and after-work drinks. Keeping it in the family, the former car park was landscaped into an outdoor terrace and garden area by our editor-in-chief’s mother, Virge Brûlé.
The design, details and decoration have conspired to create an office that feels like a home. More than a cunning ploy to keep staff from wanting to return to their own abodes, it’s a living example of a 21st-century workspace – a humane environment that encourages interaction, inspiration and above all, quality of life for all who work here.