Bureau de change has been commissioned to design the first furniture range for UK furniture brand Efasma. The range establishes the brand's ethos in creating innovative design products, which are shaped by a desire for an ecological approach and the use of natural materials, traditional techniques and quality craftsmanship.
The essence of the collection is drawn from the brand's origins in Greece, inspired by a wish to utilise talented local craftsmen and draw their skills out of the shadows of industrial manufacture. The country's basket makers and weavers, the skills of whom will be used in the manufacture of the furniture, inspired tactile and three dimensional handwoven surfaces. Single lengths of 100% cotton rope bind chair frames together, giving them rigidity - a concept which exemplifies the use of traditional techniques as a platform for innovation. Craftsmanship is enhanced by nanotechnology, which repels dirt from the cotton textile, increasing its longevity.
An interrogation of the aesthetic and functional potential of natural materials has also shaped the first collection, which is made up of handwoven walnut framed seating, substantial marble and timber dining tables, a coffee table and room divider. Woven surfaces are echoed in the geometry of the solid wood dining table, which plays with the direction and natural grain of solid oak and walnut. The same technique is used in the coffee table, in which puzzle like marble panels are rotated and pieced together to emphasise the natural veins running through the material.
The dining tables have been shaped by a slotting system, in which Efasma's dining chairs appear pushed into the edge of the table, leaving a footprint of satisfying brass clad notches.
Photography: Eliot Postma
A three storey period terrace house in North London, appealed for a scheme that would open up views to the adjoining Parkland Walk conservation area.
The focal point of the project is a pleated roof at the back of the house, which appears to be formed from a flat surface, forced to crinkle up into a faceted structure, as it is pushed up against the exterior wall. From the garden, the pleats are purposefully sunk from view, creating the impression of a simple flat roof, which allows the character of the original building to stand out.
Forming a side and rear extension, the roof expands the existing kitchen and creates a new dining and work area. The roof pleats are replicated along the party wall, concealing a home office which can be opened up when required. The boundary of the kitchen is marked assertively by the end of the pleated ceiling, which is capped by a midnight blue surface that emphasises its ample peaks and troughs. The poise of the roof offers natural points for the placement of generous skylights, bringing light into the living area and fulfilling the owners’ desire to see the nearby woodland whilst relaxing in the space.
The scheme is characterised by a rich palette of colours, materials and textures, which create a different experience in each space. Large terrazzo slabs, encaustic tiles and tonal parquet, complement the complexion of the original building, whilst enhancing the graphic impact of the angular extension.
Twitter’s ‘Powered by Tweets’ exhibition at the London Design Festival 2015 has been designed and curated by Bureau de Change Architects.
The approach to the spatial design was to translate in three-dimensions the six winning concept proposals, entered as part of the competition set by Twitter. In order to create an impactful, unified and memorable experience, and establish fluid visitor flow, the spaces have been curated by means of a sensorial narrative and cohered by the integration of the installations into the fabric and character of Somerset House.
The exhibition opens with the reverberation of sounds from a typewriter, which bounce around the cavernous spaces and monolithic volumes emerging from the geometry of the traditional parquet floor beneath. The first installation - 'Word by Word' - creates a book as never seen before. Each word of Alice in Wonderland is printed via real time tweets, producing a seemingly infinite scroll of paper, which gathers at the bottom of the tank. For 'Pigeon Air Patrol', unexpected volumes rise in the centre of the space, acting as booths for viewing information, gathered by pollution monitoring pigeons as they fly you through four capitals of the world and report on the air quality. The vibrancy of sound, volumes and moving image, create an immediate connection between the visitor and exhibition content, bringing a physicality to the digital medium and creating a bold first impression.
A transition into calmness and comfort is established in the second space, in which shafts of soft colour are cast across the space. The windows of Somerset House are filled with tanks of coloured liquid, representing the rainbow flag. This installation, titled '#PutRedBack' raises awareness that gay men don't have equal rights in blood donation, in spite of the need for donors - one in four Britons will rely on donated blood in their lifetime. The final tank, fills with red liquid drop by drop, physically illustrating support for the campaign in real time. A crystalline mirror clad room reflects the soothing glow of the tanks, seeming almost to disappear as it seamlessly bounces back the symmetry of the surrounding interior and its elegant features. The snug and textural interior of this room is topped with a screen of mesmeric moving imagery, which invites visitors to lie down on its cushioned floor. Titled 'Social Mindscape', this space represents a therapeutic escapism for Cancer patients, in which soothing imagery can be created for each patient as they undergo treatment.
The serene quality of the second space is finally swept away by the visual punch and dramatic atmosphere in the final room, in which darkened walls highlight a captivating digital display for 'Word Watching', which flickers in real time with popular words used in Tweets. This illustrates the evolution of language and Twitter's power to monitor this. A water pump sits before a map sprinkled in lights for 'Tweet Taps' - an interactive display, which demonstrates to Water Aid donors where their donations are being used and their impact on surrounding communities (390 lights relate to actual pump locations in the world's countries in need).
The brief for the new MADE store is to re-evaluate the concept of a ‘showroom’ and incorporate technology in a way that would genuinely add value to the customer experience.
Located in one of Europe’s busiest shopping districts, the new store experience begins with the external windows. Rather than display product behind the glass, the glazing itself becomes a full scale representation of the product in an intricate permanent installation.
Almost 40,000 hollow clear plastic rods puncture the 10 windows of the store to create three-dimensional ‘pinpressions’ (similar to the 1980’s executive PinArt toy) of some of MADE’s most iconic pieces of furniture.
Inside, the store blends physical product with full scale projections in a series of room sets. Customers are guided through a network of white-washed walls - curved like the pages of a book (referencing the literary history of Charing Cross Road). These walls provide a clean backdrop for the furniture and a canvas upon which products can be projected. The use of large format projections mean a single room can show multiple combinations of product changeable on demand.
This opens up the possibility for customers to experience the full product catalogue without requiring a hangar-like showroom or costly central storage facilities.
Customers are provided with tablets on which they can browse and find further product information about their favourite pieces.
Alongside the digital experience, a large physical furniture sample archive provides an opportunity to touch and feel fabrics and explore colour swatches to help decision-making.
Bureau de Change was commissioned to design the window scheme for made.com’s Flagship Showroom in Soho / London. Located in one of Europe’s busiest shopping districts, the aim was to design a scheme that would stand out amongst the dominant façades of surrounding retailers and theatre buildings.
The studio concluded that continuity across the 24 metres of ground level glazing was essential, in order to create visual impact. Rather than display product behind the glass, the glazing itself becomes a full-scale representation of the product in an intricate permanent installation. Almost 40,000 clear rods puncture the 10 windows of the store to create three-dimensional ‘pinpressions’ (similar to the 1980’s executive PinArt toy) of some of MADE’s most iconic pieces of furniture.
Acting as a showroom for this online brand, as opposed to a buy ‘off the shelf’ store environment, it was important to go beyond the traditional window display format. Whilst maintaining compelling views into the interior space, the oblique views and feathered texture grabs the attention of shoppers, appearing almost animated as they pass by. Tipped with 80,000 bespoke machine turned steel caps, the scheme resembles an undulating digital display, referencing the foundations of the brand.
The exposed corner-plot location of this old pharmacy in an affluent Athens shopping district inspired a re-working of the traditional hair salon.
Glazing on two sides made the typical wall-facing format of salon seating restrictive. Instead the design explored using this unimpeded view into the space in a different way - as though it were a small stage set and for the project to be an installation rather than an exercise in interior design.
The 50m2 space is split between the main cutting floor (the stage) and a mezzanine space (back of house). The design adopts a trio of inward-facing seats each paired with a large ceiling-hung mirror. Clustering the seats in this way provides a more communal, sociable salon experience, encouraging interaction between the stylists and customers.
From the ceiling hang 130 individual picture frames. Fabricated from dark timber profiles (moldings, architrave, cornicing and skirting), the frames range in size from 16 by 21cm to 73 by 86cm.
Appearing as though randomly placed, the frames are carefully hung from 1mm thick steel wires, each tilted to form a suspended landscape. The frames spread from all four corners of the salon, before appearing to swoop downwards to meet the three customer mirrors. Whilst many are left empty, some are filled with mirrors and angled to provide that all-important ‘back of head’ view.
Simple lighting above the installation means that the frames cast dramatic silhouettes on the space beneath. These silhouettes change and distort depending on the time of day and direction of the sun’s path across the salon. Above the clients, three spotlights direct focus back on to the hair cutting experience and provide a flood of light over the hair crown of the customer, drawing them into the theatrical feel whilst in practical terms improving visibility for the stylist.
The 520 wires that hold the frame landscape create a mist-like presence that hovers just below the ceiling. The wires gently sway in response to movement in the space and customers entering the salon.
Bureau de Change proposed to develop the connection between the Exhibition Road shop and the Museum collections, through a curatorial approach to retail design and display, inspiring visitors within the shop as well as the galleries. A connection with the galleries will also be forged, by introducing the familiar language of the Museum’s existing cases and cabinets into the new retail space. Digital interfaces will be integrated with product clusters in order to contextualise and augment the online experience and provide convenient access to product information.
The fit out proposal manifests a visual identity and language, which distinguishes the shop area. Variations in unit levels substantiate the shop’s presence within the generous height of the space. Formations of steel units with slim profiles, create a feeling of lightness, transparency and lucidity, offering views across the space.
Units are designed to offer maximum flexibility, operating in clusters with a multitude of compositional options. The non-linear layout and distribution of glass cases throughout the space offer an element of surprise and encourage browsing. A ‘discovery style’ shopping experience is offered to consumers, strengthening their connection with the brand and product. Clusters with elongated units can be orientated to ease traffic flow, also promoted by the feeling of openness created by the freestanding structures.
Simple forms and a classic colour palette complement the original building and elements revealed by the new extension, and elevate products on display. Simultaneously, the graphic contrast provided by steel clusters act as a visual stepping stone between the original and new building architecture.
Bureau de Change was shortlisted by the Royal Academy of Arts to design an installation, which would welcome the commencement of the Burlington Project - a masterplan by David Chipperfield that will join Burlington House and Gardens. The Fourth Arch is a proposal, which will change the visitors’ perception of the existing architecture.
The signature arches in the entrance hall are echoed in double vision, disrupting the formality of the existing architecture. They pinch the desire path from entrance to staircase, creating an enclosed centre within the lobby. This vantage point offers the visitor an opportunity to pause and anticipate the new life of the building. This anticipation is dramatized in the motion of the new staircases to a void destination.
The rich history of colour in Turkish ceramics inspires the palette within the space. The installation cites the dominant use of blue and turquoise, in the embellishment of buildings by Seljukid Turks in the 12th Century, and the more vivid hues the Ottoman Empire brought, including greens, corals and tomato reds. More recent digital printing and casting innovations are exposed on the outer surface of the arches. A river of colour slithers up the stairs, graphically tempting the eye of the visitor towards the site which will unite the two buildings.
The property, on a quiet street in West London, had originally been two houses and had been awkwardly combined some years earlier to form a single dwelling. Now owned by a family with two small children, those clumsy connections no longer worked.
The brief for Bureau de Change was three-fold: to open up the ground floor and connect it with the garden, to provide a generous family living space at the rear and to clearly define the spaces and their usage.
To maximise the space, key dividing walls between and within the two properties were removed and the old stairs replaced with oak cantilevered open treads. This added light, a sense of space and created a view, from the front door through to the garden.
An oak-wrapped box containing storage, partitions and a new cloakroom, forms the 'heart' of the space and provides a threshold between old and new, formal and informal. The rear facade is enveloped in 11 metres of glass forming a new kitchen and living space. At its edges the glazing appears to 'climb' over the building, creating skylights underneath which spaces have been carefully planned for eating, relaxing and cooking.
The project aims to be a canvas for the house, its inhabitants and their belongings. A simple materials palette of timber, white resin and glass was chosen to sit alongside old floorboards, cornicing and London stock brickwork.
Views were a key consideration – from the front door to the garden, down onto the skylights (where gutters are hidden in the structural frames) and across spaces.
The 'heart' of the home – the oak-wrapped box - is visible from every point of the ground floor. It performs multiple very practical functions, but the view is kept pure by hiding this beneath a simple routed oak structure.
In the extension, the facade maximises light in dining areas and limits light and potential heat intake in others – e.g: above the TV. Metalwork, which could give a 'heavy' feeling, is minimised with fine frames on the windows and a small beam to support the glass 'ceiling'.
Photography: Eliot Postma
Bureau de Change was commissioned to design a contemporary cabin deep in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
The brief was simple and focused. It should have three bedrooms and bathrooms, space for the client’s ATV (quadbike) and enable visitors to savour views across the mountainside.
The house, which nestles into the sloping site, takes its design inspiration from the traditional dogtrot house (a single storey dwelling made of two log cabins with pitched roofs, connected by an open-ended hallway or ‘dogtrot’), but adopts a radial design of four interconnected pitched roof structures, each with a fully glazed facade.
The radial start point is set from the rear of the property, spreading outwards at increments of 5 degrees. The dimensions of each room is defined by this - creating a rational for spatial layout and construction. A large open plan living space forms the keystone of the plan. From this radiate sleeping spaces to the East and a large kitchen and storage shed to the West. The storage shed with parking space is separated by a ‘dogtrot’, to take advantage of the mountain breeze.
The rooms are staggered along their axis, making space for corridors and circulation at the rear and animating the facade and creating a generous veranda at the front.
The main aesthetic of the property comes from a series of large timber beams which follow an opposing radial path (set from the front of the property). Able to span lengths of up to 20 metres, the beams fan outwards from the centre of the building forming a dramatic cantilevered roof profile. Where they meet a pitched roof, they hug its angular profile and at junctions with walls, track down to the floor, bedding the building into the mountainside. These wall-mounted beams provide a grid-like structure into which shelving can be formed and window and skylight openings made.
Kit Grover, in association with Bureau de Change, was commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music to develop the schematic design for their Fulton Street development.
The project includes the much-loved Harvey Theatre - with its mix of early 20th Century columns, tiling and exposed stonework - a redundant events space (sited on the ground floor of an adjacent tower block) and a vacant building plot.
In a district bursting with towering arts institutes and high profile galleries and educational buildings, the design takes a quieter approach - a move away from grandiose cultural buildings towards more human scale spaces.
A modest single storey building is slotted into the vacant plot. It becomes the new main entrance as well as cafe and box office for BAM. The roof of this building provides a generously planted garden terrace for pre and post theatre use.
Moving the entrance frees up the Harvey Theatre entry hall to become a gallery where people can linger, rather than just pass through. Renovated in 1979 as a ‘modern ruin’, this idea is extended in the new theatre gallery which is sprayed with concrete to ‘fossilise’ the old character.
The project is also an opportunity to develop a distinct new external identity for BAM, one which is in keeping with its international profile, but with a sensitivity to its history and the theatre’s role in the cultural landscape of Brooklyn.
A single canopy is introduced, running the length of the three buildings, unifying and connecting them both visually and physically. The canopy is formed from multiple layers of fine steel mesh. At points the mesh is pinched to form ‘arrows’, marking the entrances and aiding wayfinding.
The mesh runs inside where it forms walls, backdrops and frames for posters promoting upcoming events. Akin to filters and gels used in stage lighting, the layering of the mesh creates shadows of light and dark within the space, the greater number of layers, the more dramatic the shadows become.
Number Five is looking at the complete re-build a semi-derelict post office on the edge of a conservation area in West London.
After change of use application and complete rebuilding of the existing structure Bureau de Change focused on sensitively reworking the interior and rear extension of the house while responding to the client’s passion for design and desire to innovate.
The house is arranged on four floors, connected by a large stairwell sited at the centre of the floor plan. This stairwell provides an opportunity to introduce a new identity to the house - one that could effect every floor whilst allowing the traditional character, proportions and materials of the main living spaces to be retained.
The old staircase has been removed and in its place sits a elliptical stairwell clad in 51 rich copper ribbons. On the risers, the copper ribbons are set back in turn to create generous stair treads that emphasise the rhythm of climbing the stairs. Elsewhere in the house, reflections from the copper cast a warm glow into living spaces.
At points in the stairwell, the ribbons peel back, creating space for lighting and storage. On the top floor, the staircase becomes a copper carapace, hiding the doors and embedding handles into the surface of the walls.
The outer face of the elliptical form is represented in each room through softly curved walls which reveal cabinets and storage. This curved motif is followed through onto the floors where the large timber boards are bent to follow the lines of the ellipse.
At the rear of the property, a two storey addition plays with the familiar glass box extension. Rather than remove the bricks entirely, the project carefully positions each brick, threading them onto fine steel rods to create a necklace-like self supporting structure which negates the need for lintels.
The gaps between the bricks provide a grid-like embroidery giving views into the garden beyond. Where mortar is used, it is set back to expose the clean edges of the brickwork and accentuate the geometry of the construction. The short ends of each brick are glazed in order to reflect the light.
A one-off private commission, this table is for small, intimate meetings of up to five people. Designed for a client who is ‘always on’, the table aims to fit in a business or domestic environment.
Constructed from 50mm thick walnut veneer and brass, the slab-like table top appears to rest on fine 3mm thick brass legs - as though it is has been placed like a jeweller sets a stone into a surround. The top itself comprises 20 individual segments, book matched and mirrored to create a radiating geometric pattern.
Heavily inclined legs add to the structural illusion and provide room for people to sit in comfort.
Photography: Anna Stathaki
Located on the 9th floor of a Notting Hill tower block, the project was made.com’s first showroom.
The project explores the relationship between online and offline. Here, technology and software (QR codes, LCD touch screens and 3D scanners) sit alongside the physical product, fabric samples and furniture miniatures.
The experience for the customer begins at the ground floor lobby where the ceiling has been given texture using a more than 500 down-scaled replicas of some of made.com’s most identifiable pieces of furniture. To create the texture, products were 3D printed as miniatures which were used to formed silicon moulds. These were then cast in a yellow-tinted Jesmonite. Each of the 560 maquettes are then suspended from the lobby ceiling, creating a relief and a subverted glimpse of the product to come.
On the 9th floor, the old commercial office space has been stripped out and pared back, serving the dual purpose of providing a blank canvas for the product whilst emphasising the views over the London skyline.
On this floor, the space is divided into a series of curated room sets. The rooms are separated by hanging moveable lightweight screens built from translucent tensile fabric stretched over aluminium frames. The screens appear like photographic backdrops framing the product and referencing the images on the made.com website. When viewed from behind, the products appear as 2d silhouettes in monochrome alongside simple gallery style product information.
Towards the rear of the space a large pigeon hole cabinet contains postcards of each product with dimensions, material, pantone references and images. These product CVs are combined with abundant material samples to provide a product DNA for customers to takeaway.
Photography: Eliot Postma