The Paramount House in Sydney, its curved façade adding a swoop of Art Deco beauty to the edge of the city's central business district, was originally built to be a distribution center for the film company. Its '40s heritage may suggest historic preservation, not cutting-edge coworking space. But a recent renovation by Woods Bagot for The Office Space, an Australian coworking concept owned by Boris and Naomi Tosic, married the past and the present, providing what the firm calls a bespoke office environment that balances the original architecture, curved shell and wood-clad exterior with the needs of modern freelancers and creatives. It's flexible space the offers the stability of a fixed desk, or what the firm calls "co-working, but in a grown-up, luxury sense."
"It was about creating a simultaneously functional and aesthetically beautiful experience in every detail," said Woods Bagot Principal Domenic Alvaro.
Currently owned by Singaporean property investor Ping Jin Ng, the building has become a model of upscale, mixed-use development, housing a subterranean theater and bar as well as a café and upstairs offices. It's location in Surry Hill near the main business district and design firms made it an ideal location for expansion by The Office Space. Like many similar companies, they focus on designing flexible interiors for tech-savvy workers, but decided to take a different direction with at the Paramount House, their second location.
The 300-square-meter (3,300-square-foot) interior, which includes a series of 22 business suites that house up to four people, has been made to suggest "glamorous high-end corporate office design reminiscent of New York in the '50s," akin to the "collegiate" atmosphere of upscale shared workspaces such as the Soho House. Woods Bagot aims to create a sense of community, as well as elevated workspace, with a blend of private and public areas including meeting rooms, a cocktail bar and a shared kitchen, many of which are adorned with private artwork from Tosic's collection. The community push is certainly helped by the boardroom, which features a selection of Cuban cigars and single malt whiskeys stored in custom-built, floor-to-ceiling cabinets.
Designers drew from a variety of historical touch points during the three-year buildout, including the building's own history and boutique hotels. But the interior of leather, brass, custom light fixtures and American Black cherry wood perhaps drew the most inspiration from postwar aviation, specifically the glamor of Pan Am Clippers in the '40s and first class airline travel. A streamlined sensibility runs throughout the rooms, according to the designers, meant to suggest discreet luxury. It's a core part of the space's pitch, that investment in an elevated space can improve both the image and productivity businesses that choose to locate there.
The space can be rented on a need-to-use basis, with hot desks available on the fly and a particularly stylish meeting room open to lease, or rented, with month-to-month or longer options available. The Tosics's see the upscale Paramount addition as a model to possible replicate; in the business of designing "statement-making places of business that refine our resident business's brand or an individual's reputation," according to Naomi Tosic, they believe that aesthetics can be just as vital as functionality.
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