We speak to Sarah Miles, director of communications at io oil & gas consulting, about the design of their new HQ at The Shard.
Inspired by openness and collaboration, Level 9 was designed by BDG architecture + design with a firm vision for the interior fit-out. A thoroughly modern and transparent home was created for the newly established company with a café/bar area as its nucleus. Working integrally as part of the larger break out spaces, the importance of traditional private meeting rooms not overlooked. The multi-functionality and a collaborative environment allowing for a different way of working.
Why did you choose to move to The Shard? Was it the building or the area that attracted you?
io oil & gas consulting is a bold and contemporary brand that is aiming to disrupt the offshore industry. The Shard created a good deal of buzz in the architectural community for its disruptive design, and is the perfect place for us to house our headquarters. As an iconic landmark with a high level of gravitas, The Shard is a standout in the London skyline, just as London itself is the heart of the global oil and gas industry, and the ideal home for io.
What was the criteria/brief for the internal space?
We wanted to provide a standout and progressive working environment to reflect io’s unique nature. As a company, we are different from anything in the oil and gas industry, and wanted to ensure that was reflected in our office design. We aimed to foster a collaborative working environment, and have set aside a number of communal seating areas with couches and beanbags to encourage spontaneous meetings and brainstorms.
io’s ethos is to bring together two different areas of the offshore sector: consulting and engineering. As such, our office design includes traditional boardrooms for meetings next door to our winter garden – a room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the South Bank with beanbags and brightly coloured chairs. This dual mentality is probably best shown in our company bar, which has a fully stocked wet bar on one side and a coffee shop on the other. By combining right- and left-brain thinking, io aims to change the offshore industry, and this is shown in our office design.
Who designed the interiors?
One of the design considerations when fitting out Level 9th was to offer a more casual approach to working. Why was this important to io?
We wanted to accomplish a contemporary approach that accommodated a flexible working style. We do not think of this as casual, but instead a creative and collaborative environment that allows people the freedom to openly discuss ideas and different ways of working.
Is formality something you wished to avoid?
We wanted to create a modern and collaborative culture that was hinged on creating a cooperative working environment.
However, there is still room for formality in our business, as oil and gas is traditionally quite a conservative sector, and we have traditional boardrooms and meeting spaces for high-level meetings.
Your space incorporates generous break-out areas, was this a conscious decision to create openness?
Yes, absolutely. We are one team at io, and carry that team spirit through every project. We have created a collaborative culture to share ideas and best practice, and encourage this type of thinking throughout all of our work.
Does the new space reflect the efficiencies io is looking to instill in the gas and oil industries?
One of the problems currently plaguing the oil and gas industry is too many departments working in silos and not communicating with each other. Our space is very purposefully open plan with a large number of shared space to ensure that all of our team members are talking to one another and sharing ideas.
To further foster this, we have adapted a culture of hot-desking, and employees move desks daily to ensure that they sit by new people and get a fresh perspective that can help them in their work. This goes from junior members of staff up to the CEO.