Trendy Cape Town Office Space

WORDS Michaela Stehr PRODUCTION Sumien Brink PHOTOS Jan Ras

How do you redefine the traditional office space? Julien Verspieren, founder of Work & Co, and interior designer Andrea Graff put their heads together – and a flexible collaborative working space was born.

An image of drab grey-walled cubicles comes to mind when we think of the typical nine-to-five office. French-born Julien Verspieren saw an opportunity to break this mould when he founded Work & Co with the aim of providing an innovative space for people to connect in a fluid office environment. Based in the recently refurbished Touchstone House on Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street, Work & Co is not only centrally located but also has 360-degree views of the Foreshore and Table Mountain.

“I believe in the power of people getting together to achieve more, so we wanted to build a business-orientated space where people could share tools,” says Julien. “People are often divided by their line of work, and bringing them together opens a world of possibilities.”

From designers and web developers to actuaries, the people currently using the space span a broad spectrum of professions.

Julien worked closely with architect Natalie Gaertner, and brought in close friend and interior designer Andrea Graff to add her signature touch to the space.

That touch is evident when you step into the reception area, where a striking artwork by local artist Jody Paulsen, Emotional Ninja, is juxtaposed with a print of an 1800s oil painting of a ship in Table Bay, blown up and used as wallpaper. The space features vintage oak vinyl flooring, Monn Planc carpet tiles from Rowley & Hughes laid in a herringbone pattern, custom-made sofas, mid-century book-cases, vivid wallpaper motifs and African art. Says Andrea, “We wanted to contrast contemporary with vintage. Afro-chic with European. Old with new. My mantra: Nothing ever matches but in the end, with careful consideration, it always works beautifully.”

There is a shared office, private offices that can accommodate up to 15 people, meeting rooms, a hot-desk area and a large common area, all equipped with high-speed fibre-optics and the latest technology. And there’s coffee on tap!

The stars of the common area are a colourful graffiti mural by local artist Mak1one and a 3 m x 1,2 m-deep olive-green sofa that Andrea made from scratch (which had to be hoisted up four storeys with a crane). “I had the pleasure of sitting on a similar sofa at Soho House in Berlin,” she says. “In most of my work I want to produce a feeling of home, a place where people can be comfortable and inspired.”

The hot-desk room, where day visitors can rent a space to work, is a flurry of yellow, black and grey. Lockers line the walls and two private telephone booths offer -privacy for phone calls and video chats.

Julien created a Lego wall to which each new member of the community can add a piece to symbolise how every individual is part of the bigger picture at Work & Co.

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