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Sublime design; take a look inside the UK's most incredible places to work

sleep pods.jpg

How much does office design really matter?

The answer is, rather a lot. A good work space can make us happier and more productive, with a fun and flexible office layout working wonders to fuel ideas and foster well-being. 

With the expansion of fashion brand Missguided's Manchester HQ, which incorporates dressing rooms, swings and even a “selfie tunnel”, we look at other companies that use innovative design to generate a positive work ethic.

These are the venues where people genuinely enjoy spending time. 

Try not to weep into your crumb-infested keyboard as you take a look inside the UK's most awe-inspiring offices.


The selfie-friendly office, Manchester

Missguided's four-storey all-glass headquarter's in Trafford Park has been extended to include a staff social space with swings, arcade games, a selfie tunnel, dressing room, hair and make-up space and an all pink conference room.

Missguided

Nitin Passi, Founder and CEO, said that he was determined for the online fashion retailer's office space to break the mould of a traditional office set up.

Missguided office

“Our new headquarters are a true embodiment of our brand and reflect both the culture and spirit of Missguided,” he says. “Our ambition was to provide an inspirational and timeless working environment where teams could enjoy themselves and feel at their most creative and I think we achieved that with this office.” 

missguided swing chairs

When they're not enjoying the view of media City from their swing chairs, Missguided staff can take a break in the office's cosy purple sleep pods, which we imagine are in high demand the day after the office Christmas party.

Missguided sleep pods

The futuristic office, Spitalfields

Second Home, Spitalfields

Design duo Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton have taken one run-down Seventies block in East London and transformed it into a state-of-the-art work space for entrepreneurs and creative start-ups.

Second Home on Hanbury Street in Spitalfields aims to be the kind of place you'd want to live in.

Its slick, futuristic design makes the most of natural light, with floor-to-ceiling windows and transparent plexiglass dividing up individual office space.

A colour scheme of dazzling oranges and yellows gives the place a warm, energising feel. Mid-century modern chairs and lamps are scattered throughout, along with over 1,000 plants and trees.

The piece de resistance is a cigar-shaped "bubble" cafe and bar space. Named Jago Restaurant, it's run by  former Ottolenghi chef Louis Solley and is about as far away from a run-of-the-mill canteen as you can hope to get.

Second Home, Spitalfields
second home

The former east London warehouse is filled with natural light to get those creative juices flowing. The beautiful chairs have been sourced from all over the place, including eBay, Brussels Design Fair, and the junk shops of Croydon.

Second Home, Spitalfields

The office "canteen" is Jago Restaurant, run by former Ottolenghi head chef Louis Solley. Housed a "crazy greenhouse bubble", it draws from a wacky, retro-inspired colour scheme.

Second home

The bar area could've come straight from an episode of Mad Men... 

Second Home, Spitalfields

Forget three-day-old lasagne hacked from the bottom of a pan; the food here is creative, nutritious and beautifully presented. Delights on offer include braised pork belly, tomato and fennel salad, cannelini beans and lentil and chickpea pilaf.

Second Home, Spitalfields

Secondhome.io (photos courtesy of Instagram)


The playground office, Southampton 

Peer1, Southampton

Life's one long barrel of laughs for staff at IT company Peer1.

Its Southampton office features an indoor garden complete with a 15ft tree, picnic benches and a tree house where staff can escape for some down time.

A swing, a giant helter skelter, a pool table and a mini-golf course also count among its perks. 

Plus, there's an old-school office pub, The Sherlock Arms, named after the company's founder, Gary Sherlock. 

"We are trusting," says the company's managing director Dominic Monkhouse. "Everyone is a peer rather than a parent and child relationship. But while mucking around on a slide may seem like skiving off, the company believes it actually boosts productivity. People tend to go through highs and lows throughout the day, but if you do something different for a few minutes, your performance goes up."

Peer1, Southampton

The meeting rooms here look like a stylish hotel living room, but if you tire of them you can always take time out with a yoga class - or a rousing game of table football. 

Peer1, Southampton

Employees get to wind down - and take a shortcut - with a helter skelter slide.

Peer1, Southampton

And when the going gets tough, or there's news to celebrate, there's always the traditional in-office boozer to retreat in for a quiet pint or two.

Peer1, Southampton

The office with a view, Bedfordshire

Nicolas Tue Architects

Nicolas Tue Architects

What better way to sell your design work than with a sumptuous work space?

Bedfordshire firm Nicolas Tye Architects has crafted a truly stunning base for its staff to work in.

Surrounded by rolling hill woodland, the Long Barn Studio is made up of glass panels that are very subtly green-tinted - to make the most of the jaw-dropping landscape. 

The unique building is divided into a series of larch timber "pods" for meeting rooms, a library and a reception area.

It lays forth a blueprint for the firm's modern, chic and eco-friendly values, with rainwater harvesting, its own wind turbine, a whole building air heat recovery circulation system and centralised lighting control.

The 2,200 square foot creation was built by the firm's employees and took ten months to build, at a cost of £225,000

Nicolas Tue Architects

We're surprised the team get any work done with this glorious panorama distracting them (or inspiring them?)...

Nicolas Tue Architects

Everything about the design is sleek, minimalist and modern. 

Nicolas Tue Architects

The reception area (above) and one of the company's magnificent larch timber meeting rooms (below). 

Nicolas Tue Architects

Outside and within, the singular design is a delight to behold. 

Nicolas Tue Architects

The adventureland office, Shoreditch

Mind Candy

Entertainment firm Mind Candy - the brains behind kid's game Moshi Monsters - occupies its very own surreal and fantastical landscape.

Inspired by fictional city of "Monstro" where its key product is based, the office design features faux grass and ivy, a tree-trunk reception desk and a giant red slide (what is it with these offices and slides? We want one!)

Bold colours abound in this Shoreditch-based tech start-up, from a scarlet sofa to vivid green carpeting; not good on a hangover, we imagine, but lots of fun none the less. 

Meetings are conducted on bean-bags to the tune of a beer or two, plus there's a ping-pong table, a tree house and Guitar Hero championships to work off the stresses of the day with. 

Mind Candy

Board room meetings are out in favour of bean bag pow-wows (above). And the team can take time out and get from A to B on a giant slide.

Mind Candy

Faux foliage creates a fantastical, other-worldly atmosphere of adventure and escapism. 

Mind Candy

Anyone for a game of ping-pong? Looks like a blast...

Mind Candy

The travel-themed office, Paddington

Any office that boasts bespoke graffiti, an original Pullman carriage and a Dr Who demo room deserves some serious kudos. 

The London arm of tech firm Splunk can be found on the 7th floor of a glass and steel building next to Paddington Station and its interior design draws from the theme of travel.

There's a host of quirky features, from a brick-and-steel boardroom featuring arches daubed with graffiti (in a nod to the station setting), to a Pullman carriage in the middle of the office that serves as a soundproof meeting room. 

There's also a Tardis-style demo room and a serene open-plan dining area.

"The space needed to reflect Splunk’s brand values of innovation, passion, disruption, openness and fun," say designers Morgan Lovell. "The brief also asked us to reference the local area (Paddington Station), match the warehouse feel of many of their other sites and allow staff to collaborate and have fun."

 

Splunk

There's a bit of a Dr. Who vibe going on here, both with the custom-made graffiti (above) and the Tardis-style demo room (below), where the team demonstrate their products to clients. It's enough to satisfy any self-respecting Whovian.

Splunk
Splunk

We're big fans of the original vintage-style Pullman carriage meeting room. 

Splunk

Employees can much their lunch in style, in this elegant boutique dining area. 

Splunk

The staff-at-heart office, Manchester

Manchester

Staff welfare is at the front and centre of family-run web hosting business Melbourne, in Manchester, and consequently every aspect of the office is geared towards what the team loves.

Don't be fooled by the incongruous exterior; the former Michelin building is located on a very ordinary-looking industrial park. 

But step within and you enter a whole different world of fun and games, with delights including an indoor/outdoor barbecue area, a Scalextric track, pool tables, pinball machines and the obligatory bean bags and slide. 

It's perhaps telling that the idea for the office design was conceived one night down the pub. 

"We thought, 'what would staff like?' We didn’t want to simply have the usual partitions and grey walls," says commercial manager Chris Marsh. "The approach that we take is to invest in our base and to invest in our staff and that leads to lower staff turnover. It created an environment where everybody is happy."

Melbourne, Manchester

Scalextric tracks (above) and psychedelic-themed meeting rooms (below).

Melbourne, Manchester

Staff can take time out in a magical mystery land...

Melbourne, Manchester

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