Publicis India’s new office design matches the ad agency’s creative spirit
Shiraz Jamali Architects and Jacqueline Verma from Dragonfly envision an open-plan office with no cabins, that facilitate creative collaboration and innovative ideation.With millennials forming the bulk of the task force at new-age offices—especially in creative fields like media and advertising, the hierarchical, boring, cubicle design long associated with corporate spaces are fast disappearing, making room for tech-superior workspaces that are flexible, functional and oozing with sass. Keeping up with the times, ad agency Publicis India changed its address in the month of May, moving out of their iconic but traditional office in the Mathurdas Mills Compound in Lower Parel into a 20,000-square-feet, standalone building formerly occupied by Grey India.
The interiors of the two-storey, glass-and-metal structure that seats 350 employees was conceptualised by Shiraz Jamali Architects and executed by Jacqueline Verma from Dragonfly. “During my first visit to the site, I noticed a majestic rain tree (Samanea Saman) reflecting off the glass box behind it. Upon entering the space flooded with natural light, looking upwards to the skylight of the atrium I understood the grandeur of this tree and its impact on the space. This to me had to be the focal point of the office. We had to create a space that was transparent and permeable for all this beauty to be experienced from every corner in the office,”
The design of the office follows a modest theme with high contrast monochromatic striped wall patterns and checkerboard flooring. Like a bare shell art gallery, the background was intentionally kept minimalistic, to not detract from the perfectly manicured landscapes all around, a sweeping sculptural wooden staircase that leads to the second storey and blingy light fixtures. As you walk past the reception desk into the main office, the absence of work tables is astounding.
All around are farmhouse-style community tables by Spacewood, illuminated by rustic fabric lamps by Fabindia and an assortment of low benches, sofas, lounge chairs, coffee tables and end tables. “This new configuration disrupts the archaic siloed working style and encourages creative collaboration organically, rather than in a planned manner,” says Srija Chatterjee, the MD at Publicis India, as she gives us a walkthrough of the freshly minted space.
Work and Play
There’s also a break out area with bean bags and pouffes, an open kitchen on the landing at the top of the stairs and a pitch black 38-seater amphitheatre on the first floor with a 120-inch screen. “The team at work got together to watch the series finale of Game of Thrones here a few days ago,” Chatterjee smiles. The first floor leads to an open terrace garden, which includes a community table for employees to take some time out or plan a party. Getting permissions from the Municipal Corporation to attach a permanent canopy to the roof is a lengthy process, so the architects just got innovative and installed a pergola to shade the community table instead, and shelter the area from Mumbai’s relentless rains.
Turning Over a New Leaf
The soft, green scape around was integral to the aesthetic of the premise. Enveloping the office is flora typical to tropical rainforests such as Areca palms and Traveller palms, creepers like Monstera, Money plants and other big leaf variants that grow in the shade of giant trees.
The mix created a landscape composition of different colours, hues, sizes and shapes that the architects brought indoors by cultivating an indoor rainforest by the giant staircase, a vertical garden on the first floor wall, while potted plants pepper the entire office. “The same tropical plants grow under the rain tree almost slowly creeping into the building, blurring the lines between the inside and outside. A custom-print, rainforest-themed wallpaper by Bharat Flooring frames the small windows on the first floor overlooking the lush foliage outside,”