Design Inspiration

This Joburg office takes neutral tones & linear accents to the next level

Designed by Studio 19, the interiors of this law firm are sophisticated without feeling stuffy

17 March 2019 - 00:00 By Julia Freemantle

Office design has come a long way from the cubicles and bad carpeting of yesteryear.
Designer offices are the new corporate status symbol, complete with all the bells and whistles of communal meeting spaces, credible art collections, social hubs and high-end furniture.
Studio 19, interior designers for clients that range from commercial and corporate to residential, are past masters at creating sophisticated neutral workspaces that speak to a client's identity but are also easily recognisable.
This fine line is down to a mastery of materials and a signature way with finishes that marks a design as theirs.
For this Joburg law firm, Debbie Votin, Mia Widlake and the team merged their sophisticated aesthetic with the youthful feel the client was hoping to invoke.
"They wanted the new space to be a bit more 'fun' and for it to offer employees an opportunity to be social.
"This allowed us to be creative with the finishing details. We were even able to custom make a foosball table for their media room," says Votin.
For the foundation a sophisticated shell of polished neutral tones was created. Biscuit-toned linen and toffee leather offset blonde wood for an elegant effect that's neither masculine nor feminine, but feels fashionably gender neutral.
Crisp finishes counteract the natural materials so it comes off as professional rather than organic, despite the textures the designers have used to mitigate the corporate effect.
"The use of timber and the incorporation of a living wall at the entrance were used to soften the typical structure of an office space.
"Office hours for attorneys are long, and with so much time spent in the space it needed to be both practical and approachable. We wanted the staff to enjoy the spaces they were in," Votin adds.
The predominant trio of wood, leather and linen are materials you'd find in a gentleman's lounge or library (the kind of space you'd traditionally associate with the profession), but with none of the stuffiness, thanks to pared-back shapes and a clean and simple execution.
This balance is reached in the choice of finishes, palette and style of furniture. Bold and current accents, such as the olive green chairs and tan leathers, were selected to complement locally designed furniture pieces like the sleek Anatomy armchairs and Studio 19 mottled brass Long-House wall lights.
Although contemporary, it does feel tailored, essential for a company operating at the level it does. "A law firm needs to exude confidence and refinement so the details were an important factor," says Votin.
Consequently, there is cohesion. A consistent thread of lines and circle motifs throughout - cutouts in the wall panelling, textured upholstery and dado rails - give the rooms a graphic and groomed note, but also pulls it all together.
"All Studio 19's spaces are well thought out. With this space we wanted to soften the linear lines that the space required for functionality with the subtle organic shapes created by the circles. There is also the fact that we love circles and tend to gravitate towards them," she adds.

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