First published in Broadsheet, July 2015
Paramount, a bold new workspace from co-working company The Office Space, hints that understated luxury might be the future of work.
Honeyed lighting. Brass fixtures. Mid-century chairs by Ray Eames and Walter Knoll. Stepping into Paramount by The Office Space is like entering a parallel dimension, where co-working spaces are a utopian antidote to the office cubicle rather than well-meaning incubators for the next Steve Jobs. But the bespoke workspace, which is on the first floor of Surry Hills’ Paramount House, is also proof that good design can foster new models of working while serving as a sanctuary from the outside world.
“You can go into the most beautiful museum in the world and it can feel cold, but this space feels soft and humane, like it could be someone’s home,” smiles Sam Preston, communications manager of The Office Space, a boutique serviced office specialist which established its first site on nearby Reservoir Street a decade ago.
Director of The Office Space, Boris Tosic’s main business is construction and fit-outs. The Reservoir Street building was leased out to friends in graphic design and architecture, so design and curation has been a focus for the company from the start. “Boris has always been in love with this building and we jumped on it when the offer came. It’s different to the Reservoir site because it’s very Mad Men, with an air of ‘50s and ‘60s luxury, whereas the original is young and fresh,” says Preston. “Here, all your senses are engaged in the softness, the smell of the wood, the oak paneling.”
We’re chatting in the boardroom, a stately space where floor-to-ceiling cabinets house a secret compartment for Cuban cigars and a rare Japanese whisky collection. It’s impossible not to feel a little overwhelmed. From the kitchen, which features a custom brass bar and Marc Newson for Noritake glassware, to the sumptuous, curved suites – lined with goat-hair carpet and lit with moon-like pendant lamps from Sydney designers Light Practice – the space could have been plucked from a Modernist fantasy. Miraculously, though, the design elements avoid film-set associations and speak to each other in a way that feels inviting and real.
“For us, Paramount marks our tenure in the business, and demonstrates a maturing of our offering,” says The Office Space business manager Naomi Tosic, adding that the space was a collaboration between architecture firm Woods Bagot, furniture company A.B. Projects architectural joinery and fit-out company Elan Construct. “We wanted to honour the iconic Paramount building and achieve a working environment that is functional and beautiful,” says Tosic, adding that everything, with the exception of the integrated desk phones, has been custom-made, highlighting the original Art Deco features. Design pieces such as Molteni & C’s Gio Ponti armchairs and Eames Time Life boardroom chairs have been carefully selected to tie in with the era of the original building. “The styling is exquisite,” says Tosic. “We’re hoping to position Paramount as the most exclusive ‘inclusive’ space in Australia, and perhaps the world.”
Preston says Paramount, which offers business concierge services and invites tenants to take meetings and conduct presentations in the Golden Age Bar & Cinema, attracts people who come from a spectrum of industries but share similar sensibilities and aesthetics. She also says the space’s rotating art collection, which includes Jim Morrison was Here, a striking diptych by Archibald winner Ben Quilty, a series of works by Croatian painter Julije Knifer and silkscreens by US pop artist Corita Kent, is a personal highlight.
“We think of it like a hotel for business, where everything you need is at your fingertips – in the same way as at a five-star hotel,” Preston says. She adds that the space has partnered with Golden Age Cinema to host a panel series featuring insights from leaders in their respective fields. “We attract a range of businesses and individuals, from the head of a design company who uses the space as a breakaway for himself, to CEOs completing side projects, to startups and consultants. It’s not industry-based, it’s a matter of taste. So many people in the Sydney design world brought this together and so many people are now involved in making it what it is.”