Designing a space for one of London’s largest regeneration projects was a super exciting opportunity for Focus Experiential. From polished plaster to striking staircases, our Head of Design takes you behind the inspiration for NU livings’ marketing suite, Blackwall Reach.
What interior design style is Blackwall Reach?
It’s an eclectic mixture of styles, taking inspiration mainly from the brutalist architecture of Robin Hood Gardens.
However to soften the harsh materials and strong lines I introduced the warm orange from the branding through plush carpets and detailed fabrics.
"Taking inspiration mainly from the brutalist architecture of Robin Hood Gardens."
How did you choose the flooring for such a large space? What elements do you have to consider when choosing flooring?
With so much going on in the space, I decided the flooring needed to be the darkest element. With such bold contrasts against the other colours and materials, adding in a small herringbone lay style, provided a high end feel to the space.
What’s your first point of call when planning internal space?
When taking on a design of space, my first motion is to create a list of all of the needs and all of the wants. This means I can ensure that the brief is answered but also create a design that has intrigue and the customer at the forefront.
Did you stay close to your main concept?
From the sketch scheme to the final reveal the design barely changed. Luckily I had designed to the client’s brief and the only design development came from building in existing furniture and models. This is our ideal when working on a project, as we want the whole process to be as straightforward as can be.
Where did you get your inspiration for the exterior signage?
I knew with the design of the architecture that the signage needed to work with the sharp angles. As the suite can be viewed from three sides, we wanted to ensure viewers could read the development from all angles, creating a stand-up sign above the roof line helped us achieve this. Then by using simple vinyl, the logos for the development are applied to the glowing top level, which only accentuates further at night time.
How did you ensure the staircase stood out in the marketing suite?
Originally we designed the staircase to be bright orange, however, it was decided this was maybe a step too far to make the feature stand out. I decided to finish the stair in the same concrete effect as the structural wall – making the whole piece look as one. The simple glass balustrade was to ensure that the focus wasn’t taken away from the clean lines of the stair.
What challenges did you face architecturally?
The largest challenge on the project was being allowed to build the building in the precarious position it sits in. In some places, the Blackwall Tunnel (southbound) sits only 1.5m under the soil. The whole team had to ensure that everything was measured out correctly to ensure there was no interruption to the running of the tunnel. We pride ourselves in facing tough scenarios, but we don’t think we want to build near a running tunnel again.
Let’s talk seating areas. Why did you choose to mix and match textures? How can you make a seating area look so stylish but still comfortable for the client?
"It’s a fine balance this sofa game!"
My main aim within a seating area is to create a zone to feel at ease. Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions the customer will make, so a warm space that gives a neutral zone to mull over the product on offer is essential. With Blackwall Reach I wanted a bold warm carpet firstly, to give the illusion of a warm glow. The seating was chosen for its material and soft shapes. We wanted to make sure the sofa is comfy but not too comfy that the customer sinks in and can’t get out. It’s a fine balance this sofa game!
What was your inspiration behind the exterior?
Due to the position in which the suite was dictated to sit, the building shape had to work around the exclusion zones. The twisting of the first floor was to accommodate the show apartments, which could change with the upcoming phases. The decision to make the first floor glow was based around catching potential buyers during the evenings or in the darker months. The overall design also took close inspiration from the brutalist design of the Robin Hood Gardens.
How did you factor the show homes into the overall design of the suite?
The first floor of the suite is completely dedicated to showcasing the apartments – therefore we made a warehouse-style space. Allowing the show apartments to be knocked down and reconfigured within the open space. Meanwhile, in the lobby area from the stairs, I designed in hanging banners to display the other apartment types and layouts, which again can be easily changed when the development moves into new phases.
What’s your favourite feature within the suite?
My favourite feature is the mesh, which runs throughout the suite. We used it in multiple ways; as a screen, a door plaque, a wall finish, and a graphics background. It just adds a nice textural element whilst not shutting off the texture or colour behind.
"It just adds a nice textural element whilst not shutting off the texture or colour behind."