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Home or office? It’s often now hard to tell

The Myer family foundation, MFCo’s new office designed by Carr Design. Photo: Shannon McGrathOffice and home environments have been blurred for the past few years.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

As work hours increase, and people often spend more time outside their home office space, designers have become more attuned to creating the creature comforts.

Kitchens, together with lounge and dining areas, have become enmeshed in the office environment. This is certainly the case with Carr Design’s scheme for the Myer family company’s latest office fit-out, MFCo at 171 Collins Street.

Previously located at One Exhibition Street, Melbourne, the Myer family was keen to be closer to the ground and occupy broader and more generous floor plates for its 100 staff.

While the staff work predominantly in open-plan style offices on level seven, the business and client meeting areas are at ground level (Collins Street), nestled above the Supernormal cafe and restaurant front on Flinders Lane.

“We conducted several workshops over a period of weeks with MFCo in order to establish how staff work and, as importantly, how they wanted their clients to feel, whether they are coming in for a meeting, or wanting a place to catch up on their own business if they happen to be in the city,” says interior designer Dan Cox, director of Carr Design, who worked closely with colleague, interior designer Molly Shelton.

Discreetly located behind a sliding steel door, the client/business centre is more akin to entering a sophisticated lounge rather than an office.

Deep leather armchairs, lounges and coffee tables sit below the generous ceilings (about six metres high), while a dining table is at the other end.

“We started with a fairly blank canvas, but we were keen to retain the industrial feel of the building, given its history in Flinders Lane,” says Shelton, pointing out the exposed pipes and electrical services that straddle the concrete ceiling.

While clients can discuss their investments informally on one of the lounge suites, or around the dining room table, they can also pre-book one of the three enclosed meeting rooms, which include operable walls to allow the spaces to be used for a variety of functions, including cocktail parties.

As the ceiling heights are generous, Carr Design was able to include a mezzanine level for executive offices. “We were conscious of creating sight lines to Flinders Lane to strengthen the connection to the passing traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian,” Cox says.

“One of the most challenging aspects was making the mezzanine spaces feel as though they were ingrained within the building, rather than added,” he says.

To create a contemporary office space for staff, Carr needed to include open-plan work areas on level seven, a floor that’s kept separate from clients.

Given that access is by security card, there’s no reception upon arrival. The staff walk directly into a large kitchen, complete with a 10-metre-long island bench. Banquette-style seating and loose furniture creates a sense of a home-style kitchen, but on a considerably larger scale.

“Often, you’ll see staff having an informal breakfast meeting first thing in the morning,” MFCo office manager Tamara Marsh says.

Although there are few divisions or enclosed spaces on the office level, Carr included three enclosed glass pods/meeting areas, together with a number of glass-fronted offices.

“People like to have the flexibility of moving to different work environments depending on the nature of the business,” says Cox, pointing out the banquette-style booths.

“However, irrespective of the space, there’s certainly less formality than in offices of the past,” he adds.

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