Swedish collective Note Design Studio’s first major London project aims to bring a sense of calm to the workplace
Behind the beautiful, buff-coloured facade of a Grade II-listed building in London’s Holborn is an office interior by Sweden’s Note Design Studio, the practice’s first major UK project. Summit House is the latest outpost for flexible workspace operator The Office Group (TOG), and sits on Red Lion Square, around the corner from a bustling Tube interchange. “London’s a busy city. We wanted to bring a sense of calmness to the space, so you feel safe and you don’t feel tense at work,” says Johannes Carlström, Note’s co-founder, describing the 4,180 sqm space, which mixes private offices, communal lounges and meeting rooms, plus the now-obligatory office roof terrace.
The work of Note, a multidisciplinary design collective founded in 2008, came to TOG’s attention two years ago when it created a temporary dining concept in shades of blush, red and cream at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. These colours pop up again at Summit House, as does Note’s predilection for a thoughtful approach and a lightness of form that are also evident in the studio’s other interiors work – such as Stockholm business hotel Grow, which opened late last year – and in its prolific product design for brands including Reform, Moooi, Menu and Fogia.
At Summit House, Note has paid due respectto the stately 1920s building, but it has given the interiors a historic Scandinavian spin. “We were inspired by ‘Swedish Grace’, which was a significant style in Sweden for quite a number of years. It’s art deco but with a bit more functionalism,” explains Carlström, with Note product designer Charlotte Ackemar adding: “I also thought of ‘Grace’ as a person, someone who is strong, really graceful and forward.”
The composition of a tiered structure behind a monolithic bird’s-eye maple reception desk, with custom-made patterned terrazzo flooring in front of it, is also a nod to the precise, colourful and symmetrical cinematography of arthouse film director Wes Anderson. It does indeed feel like a filmic experience walking down the hallway, which is lined with pendant lights by Lee Broom and mirrored artwork that Note created themselves. “We didn’t want the kind of accessories that date,” says Ackemar. “We wanted to create a timelessness.”
Leading off from the hallway, there is a cafe space with a round ceramic and metal table – another bespoke Note creation – as are the wall benches in the adjoining ballroom and the lounges of the office floors. Off-the-peg Note products can also be found around the space, along with a spectrum of other contemporary design pieces including the Grande table for Fogia and the Macka easy chair for Arrmet, with its softly inviting silhouette featuring in meeting rooms. The Arkad pouffe for Zilio Aldo & Co, meanwhile, forms the centrepiece in Note’s interpretation of a “recharge room” –
the first of its kind in a TOG space – where members can escape for peace and quiet.
London’s a busy city. We wanted to bring a sense of calmness to the space, so you feel safe and you don’t feel tense at work
Elsewhere, the ornamental pattern of chinchilla glass intersperses a wall of meeting rooms for greater privacy, and dark green walls, chocolate- coloured Corian kitchen worktops and oak flooring all help to underpin Note’s concept of creating serenity within the workplace. “It’s a very competitive part of town. If you’re going to be here, you’ve got to create something different,” says TOG’s co-founder Charlie Green. “We want people to feel something – and here it’s about calm.” Green must approve of Note’s work, because he has already lined up the practice to design another space.
It’s been something of a year of firsts for Note. Waiting Windows, its debut piece of public art, was unveiled in Nacka, the Stockholm outer suburb where a new rail link to the city is due to arrive in 2027. The piece consists of a series of large-scale polished stainless steel frames set on a granite hillside near to where the Sickla subway stop will be; it reflects on the idea of waiting, both in the sense of waiting for a train and the 100,000 residents of Nacka waiting for this significant transport link to be completed.
This autumn will see more projects coming to fruition, among them the continuation of work for Danish brand Menu, with the launch of new storage pieces; an installation at lighting company Vibia’s Barcelona showroom; and the design of an exhibition at ArkDes, Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design, all about how prefabricated concrete panels changed the world. Given Note’s busy schedule, that “recharge room” may come in quite handy.
We were inspired by the movement ‘Swedish Grace’...It’s art deco but with a bit more functionalism