Pure Design is behind the turnkey installation of new offices for Argon Asset Management in both Sandton, Johannesburg and Newlands, Cape Town. Pure Design CEO Quinton Abrahams talks us through the high tech transformation:
Argon was established ten years ago as a financial services company and Pure Design has been part of the journey assisting them with all things design-related.
We designed and did a turnkey installation of their original offices in Newlands. We also designed, developed and built at least two exhibition stands a year for them at financial services conferences throughout South Africa. We also witnessed and, to a degree, influenced their corporate identity evolution. Ten years later, following rapid growth and expansion, they were bursting at the seams and looking for the best solution.
With growth, workspace at Argon had become a challenge but the lease of their existing space was still in place. As a result, they decided to keep this and take another pocket of space that became available in a neighboring building in the same office park in Newlands. It was decided that the new space would become the executive office to accommodate all top management.
The brief was to tailor make a space that would accurately reflect the new “Mature Argon”. The space had to accommodate the directors and their team members, a state of the art reception area and a 20-seater boardroom with the latest top quality audio-visual technology. Words like sophisticated, plush, exclusive, bespoke and practical, were mentioned and the main criteria was to create a space conducive to Argon doing what they do best.
Once the client approved the initial concept, the team kick-started the space planning process. This was extremely challenging as the space was really small and the configuration was a little awkward.
Between fulfilling the client’s requirements and honoring all building and fire regulations, we decided to place the 20-seater boardroom in the centre and build everything else around it. Argon has received about ten awards and trophies in the last two years, both local and global accolades, and we thought it would be crucial to showcase those in a clever way.
The end result was illuminated glass displays with smart tint decals that were integrated into the walls, thus forming part of the boardroom structure. These can be switched on and off to block out visibility when more privacy is required in the boardroom. The challenge with having such a large boardroom in a small space is that there are many regulations to comply with from a safety point of view and still we needed to have uncomplicated access control technology.
We ended up with large 2,5m wide automated frameless glass doors on either side of the boardroom with no touch access control for visitors and biometric controls for staff. These massive glass doors slide smoothly into pocket walls opening up to 40% of the wall surface on either side of the boardroom. This allows for easy evacuation when needed and a completely different dynamic aesthetically.
We also designed a natural oak serving area and set it back to allow a 3m acoustic sliding door to conceal it completely. This way they can prepare snacks and drinks without having it exposed during large meetings and once the formalities are over, they would open that and the automated glass doors and lock it in the open position and the space for networking around some drinks and snacks increases substantially. It was a combination of good space planning, coupled with technical experience.
From a technology point of view, the boardroom is equipped with two large video walls, made up of four large screens each, making for impressive world class presentations and a video conferencing system that can seamlessly links real time to three other locations anywhere in the world. With an office in London, Cape Town and Sandton for now, this will come in really handy.
The third wall is equipped with a massive smart board, the big screen equivalent of an iPad. This allows for remote interaction on spreadsheets and so much more. For example: Someone scribbles digital notes on the smart board in Cape Town, and it appears on the smart boards at the other locations.
From a design perspective, the level of detail is top class. We’ve customised for the individual’s needs, down to every drawer unit and wall unit, including the dimensions of shelves.
We used quite a bit of matt black and white throughout as these are Argon’s corporate colours. We then softened it with white oak veneer cupboards and workstations and avoided handles where possible to enforce the sophisticated clean look and feel. We made extensive use of concealed warm white L.E.D strip lights to further soften and warm up the look and it really came together beautifully.