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A workplace leading the future of Young Minds

Senior Designer, Jess Willdigg talks to us about the process behind creating the new workplace for London’s leading charity fighting for childrens mental health and her inspiration throughout.

What was the clients main objectives?

“Young Minds is a UK based charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. The main objective for the space was to create a working environment which was welcoming to not only the employees but anyone else who may be using the space such as their brand activists.

It was important to the client to create a collaborative,  modern and brand focused work space which brings people together and provides a sense of community to those using it. Being a charity that works closely with children, flexibility was also vital, providing quiet areas throughout the space where employees could work independently when required, especially for those within the helpline service who will be taking distressing calls.”

How did you achieve this?

“We worked closely with the young minds team for almost a year prior to the fit out to better understand what they required from their new space. In order to gain an indepth understanding of how the business and employees work, the processes that are in place and any challenges to overcome, we carried out workplace consultancy, which consisted of staff engagement surveys with the employees, online questionnaires, leadership interviews, desk top working analysis, a furniture audit and a building search and location analysis with property agent, DeVono Cresa.

Once we understood the business needs and working solutions required from the new space it was all about creating the space to meet these.

The teapoint being the heart of the office, we wanted to create a breakout space that immediately encouraged interaction but could also be used for multiple purposes,. We achieved this with varied breakout furniture and built in booth seating solutions, which can be used for cultural lunches, informal meetings or independent working. The island and stools work as a coffee catch up or alternative meeting place, whist the window bench house additional stools underneath creating a more relaxed seating area for downtime.

Young Minds nature of business means they can often be involved in quiet distressing situations so the welfare of their employees, activists and visitors played a large role within the design process. Downtime was therefore a big factor to consider throughout the space. To allow for calls and private meetings, we created a quiet room with soft seating and a variety of finishes to give their staff  somewhere to break away from their desks when needed.

Collaborative and large team meetings also play a quite an important role for the business, especially with young minds vast event and campaign calendar. The breakout space includes a projector screen to allow for company meetings, training session and department / team get together.

To create a sense of arrival and inject their brand into the space, we worked closely with some of the Young Minds activists to create an impactful graphic that resonates with the charity and the young people the charity has helped.”

What challenges were you faced with?

“Our biggest challenge faced was working with the building as much as possible within the design to keep the project to both budget and schedule. Exposed ceilings can be challenging for acoustics. Our way of overcoming this was to create bulkheads where all our walls had to go to the ceiling. This meant we could create the best possible acoustic seal around the high level mechanical elements. And in areas where we didn’t need to have acoustic privacy as much we designed to the level of where the bulk head would begin instead. This helped us keep to the budget and gave us a distinct design direction for height throughout the space. Our mesh paneling, graphics, glass partitioning and doors, would also meet the bulk head starting point, giving us a clean and consistent finish at high level.”

How did you approach on this project in terms of working with the Young Minds team?

“The main approach on this project from the very start was to work collaboratively with Young Minds and be transparent with everyone involved. This meant that everyone knew what the end goal was right from the start and the timeline and budget was agreed upfront and managed throughout.

From the get go we worked closely with Devono Cresa to help find the perfect office space for Young Minds. We space planned and gave indicative costs for most of the buildings that Young Minds were considering to help them make a decision based on the possibilities surrounding each one. This gave them a clear indication of whether the building was a suitable size for both present and future growth, an idea of the costs involved and generally showing them if each space was feasible.

We held weekly meetings with subcontractors and the client to discuss the progress. This meant we could keep everyone updated and quickly resolve any challenges that came up to keep the project moving in the right direction.”

How was the brand integrated into the space and why was this important to the design?

“Brand integration was key throughout the design development and is a key focal point of the space. We integrated this by working closely with Young Minds  creative team and their activists. We ran a few workshops which involved idea generations that led to us to discovering what key messages they wanted to convey and how we could achieve a high impact using their brand.

The art mural in the breakout is a full wall graphic that includes a central message, surrounded by motivational and encouraging hand written messages from the activists.

This process was successful due to the fact that the end result was so personal to the people that Young Minds have helped, creating sentimental statement and value we wanted to.

Our colour palette was made up of their primary and secondary brand colours. We worked mostly with their recognisable yellow, which was used on signage, wall finishes and also fabric elements throughout.

To imprint the brand further we included manifestation graphics throughout made up of  lots of symbols relating to Young Minds and their unique personality.”

What current trends were used to influence your design and why?

“Current trends always have an influence in our design concepts when creating work spaces for both brands and businesses. The trends that inspired us on Young Minds new space were modern industrial to work with the building, pops of colour to introduce their bold yellow and the use of slogans with impact for our art mural.

India House had an industrial style CAT A which suited the building. We incorporated this look and feel in with our approach to the space as we wanted the whole environment to feel connected and considered. The use of the mesh panels not only acts as a dividing screen for open plan and breakout areas but also ties in with the modern industrial feel of the space.

We also used industrial style iron wall units not only again to tie in with the style of the building but for the sustainability properties and overall practicality of having open shelves in a busy office environment.”

What are you most proud of?

“I’m really proud of how well we all came together to make this the success it is. The whole project ran so smoothly, with strong communication and collaboration throughout the entire process making it an absolute pleasure to work on as a designer and is a project I am particularly proud to have been a part of.”

What did you most enjoy about the project?

“Young Minds have been a milestone in my career for many reasons. Not only was they the ideal client to work with in terms of working together and building partnerships but this was also a very fulfilling project to be involved in.”

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