The Experiential Workplace

The Challenge

Reimagine a workspace for now – for hybrid working, stronger team connections, and top talent acquisition.

Our Response

An open-plan flood of daylight with a dash of heritage reconnects teams, boosts wellbeing, and provides clear divisions between spaces for work, collaboration, and privacy.

Long Story Short

Behrens’ reimagined two-storey office is the experiential workplace that boosts wellbeing, fosters collaboration, and attracts talent. We filled the space with light and calm, then split it into productive zones using barely-there grids of plant-filled shelving or opaque glass.

In this hybrid working environment there are areas for individual work, teamwork, socialising, presenting, and exercising – for doing all the shared or private activities that team members hope to do during their days in the office. It’s an inviting, open-plan space that connects teams and builds rapport. It makes office life what it should be: playful, productive, worthwhile.

The Finer Details

Manchester’s oldest textile company has, for almost two centuries, embraced change to maintain its position at the forefront of the industry. Now, in response to rapidly evolving working practices, it was time to reimagine its two-story office space and reconnect its teams of hybrid workers. The company wanted to be more collaborative, flexible, and supportive – to offer the kind of working environment that promotes wellbeing, raises productivity, and attracts top talent.

Our response to this brief was fundamentally about light and space. We carved a void in the slab between the two floors to let daylight flood through, and to make the connections between the levels physical as well as digital. We brought Behrens teams closer.

Then we broke up the spaces with relaxed, open, grid-like divisions. Some contained glass, others had nothing but plants and simple domestic ornaments. The effect was at once businesslike and homely; it created an aura of calm and caring professionalism.

The resultant working zones have clarity, yet are open enough to invite collaboration, encourage socialising, create space for individual work, offer privacy when needed, or provide uninterrupted focus for internal and external presentations. There are even spaces for health and exercise classes. It’s the kind of experiential working environment that makes days in the office the ones to look forward to.

Two other spaces pay homage to the Behrens heritage: a display room showing many decades’ worth of fabric and samples, and a storytelling wall that leads from reception to the first floor. The company’s rich heritage is also a source of decorative detail: curtains, lampshades and other fixtures feature fabrics from the Behrens archive.

Project Deliverables

Creative concepts
Technical design
Project management
I have personally led the project with the guys at O12 & have found them all to be professional, responsive and very flexible in the way they work. The space we have created has transformed the environment our staff work in, from a dated and cluttered ‘office’, to a beautiful, fresh, inviting ‘work space'.

George Hughes, Director, Behrens Group.