although enriched with a delicate palette of neutral tones, joanna laajisto’s new office design for columbia road in helsinki, finland still distinguishes subtle references to the building’s former life as a bank. now occupied by a digital growth consultancy, the interior has been adapted to enhance the dynamic and flexible needs of their employees.
all images © mikko ryhänen
‘we wanted to create a sharp look with soft elements for columbia road to match their brand identity. for a creative office where the employees are one of the biggest assets of the company, it is very important that the space feels comfortable and welcoming,‘ says joanna laajisto, lead designer of the project.
with over 50 staff members, columbia road’s new office space is comparatively small at approximately 400 sqm. this is because most the employees work at client premises during the week and only return to the HQ on fridays to touch-base, meet and collaborate as a team. laajisto’s design emphasizes the importance of their common areas, with the kitchen and lounges taking center stage and traditional desk space limited. this enables employees to work where ever they choose, from one of the desks in the open office area to the large bespoke dining table or one of the more private workrooms enclosed with glass doors.
much of the original building structure has remained, though. its large, retail-esque windows look out to the streets of central helsinki, whereas the original high concrete ceilings have been left exposed. referencing the old glory days of the bank, its glossy tile flooring is interrupted by islands of carpet with sharp metal edges that sit below the open office desks and lounge areas. this, as well as the thick natural colored wool felt curtains that separate the working and leisure spaces, create acoustic and visual barriers. the interior’s palette embraces light natural tones of sand, gray and olive green framed by hints of black.
bespoke furniture such as the kitchen, meeting and dining tables and storage were tailor-made. these sit alongside classic pieces like jean prouve’s ‘cite’ lounge chairs and ‘standard’ dining chairs. ‘when it comes to sustainability, quality and longevity plays a major role. it doesn’t matter if a product is made of recycled materials if it is tossed away after few years when moving to a new location for example. we want to specify pieces that people will love and respects so much that they will want to keep them forever,‘ joanna laajisto concludes on columbia road, helsinki.
client: columbia road
location: helsinki, finland
designer: studio joanna laajisto