A creative process; my first commercial interior fit out
November 9, 2014
Designing and fitting out
The Pool Room
in a central Sydney office
This is one of the best design journeys i've been on, so for you, i have had a think about articulating exactly why...
Firstly, and most importantly, this project had a genuine purpose. The space offers a reprieve from everything you think a work place should encompass, particularly in a global bank, where clocks are always ticking, brains are working over time, blackberries are flashing red, and inboxes never empty. Entering level 3 from the lift well in Chifley Tower for the first time, i don't think you'd expect to find a corner quite like this one.
Secondly, from the beginning of this process, I had a vision, and a sketch that i wanted to bring to life. This mean't i had to literally google until my heart was content to find suppliers that would deliver on the vision, and within budget.
And lastly, the project forced my creative capacity to grow. I had pictured exactly what i wanted, but i had to push myself to envisage materials that i hadn't before worked with or physically seen installed - i had to trust myself, trust the builder, trust that the components would come together, and that they would all work.
I think that is why this journey has been my most enjoyable - stressful, challenging, and satisfying.
For those of you that want to know how a banker
set off on this creative endeavour, here is the story;
I had walked past this lowly corner each morning as I came into work for over 6 months since our generous head of IBD at the time had donated this beautiful, brass trimmed pool table. The dark charcoal lino, dull grey paint work and lonely pool table, plonked in the middle, sucked the life out of me. I could see a better space, but I just needed some money, a builder and the COO's permission.
The before shots:
It was International Women's Day, and the internal ladies had been invited up to the boardroom for morning tea and a presentation by one of the business heads . The usual charitable ambitions, womanly accomplishments and encouragements for the year ahead were given.
Speaking to the business head afterwards on frivolous topics, I asked if he was on Pinterest, and can you believe his answer was no?! Why would you want to be on such a thing? he asked. Well, I said, it is a brilliant place to collect visual thoughts, in fact, case in point, I have oodles of ideas for the area on level 3 where that lonely pool table sits - I have started a Pinterest board with ideas. Do you want to look?
That conversation led me to the next one with the COO, and before I knew it I had a set budget a corporate real estate team member and the most brilliant builder, Mitch, to assist in bringing a pencil sketch to life.
The planning stage
We got the green light to start in early June, and from there it was a 4 month project executed using a spreadsheet, pinterest, endless hours on google, drawings and finding competitive quotes. The ideas and components came together relatively easily, and amongst our small team we met about monthly to discuss the preparation of the woodwork, painting and practicalities of a one-day installation.
And so the room began to evolve from this, my original pencil sketch on paper...
I came across tremendous Australian suppliers in a quest to stay within budget. I have listed all of the suppliers of components used at the end of this post so do check them out.
Finally, on Saturday 27 September we had arrived at installation day. The day began at 7am and I walked out the door at 3pm – 8 hours of solid building and decorating. Well, Mitch did the building with his trusty side kick, while i unpacked items, handed out cupcakes and directed the install. It was oh so very block-esque, and i was completely immersed in my element. Mitch has superb attention to detail and the recycled timber bench seat, shelving and bar on custom made steel brackets, that he treated and fitted, are finished to perfection. The softness and utter beauty of these Iron Bark features has made the space a warm and inviting place to spend time.
Next, the galvanised steel went up for the scoreboard, the rug went down and the pool table lifted into its perfect place. And by 11am, after the electrician and Mitch had suspended the timber board and hung the pendants, they were done. It was now my chance to stop bossing the boys around and get stuck in - stools unpacked, plant arrangements made and hung, magnets, pens and magazines put in place, shelves styled and decals stuck. All while my trusty helper (aka boyfriend), Miles, did what he does best, observed and critiqued.
If i had to pick favourite products, they are the Bell Cage pendant lights from Fat Shack Vintage along with the teal coloured electrical cord from Duck Fat – they have a huge range of colours and jute, which for $12.95 a metre, can spruce up a hanging pendant, and bring it right back into the pendant-feature-lights-are-so-in-right-now scene!
Artwork and walls
With two huge walls, we needed art. The warmth and layering in the space needed something original, and as you know, original art = expensive. As one of my favourite things to do is paint, i was excited to do the piece myself, and Mitch put together a circular timber canvas for me. The work is a large, textured acrylic and mixed media piece, hung on a Dulux Stowe White wall - a contrast to the Dulux Design Black Chalkboard paint on the adjacent wall. The various shades of teal, black and gold in the painting complement the beautiful blue suede and brass fittings on the pool table, teal electrical cord, hanging planters and scatter cushions.
Another favourite, Angus & Celeste's Jelly Planter, is floating in the corner of my bathroom and home to a string of pearls plant which laps up the sunlight from the skylight . It looks gorgeous (see it here), so I couldn’t help but incorporate one in the Pool Room. I thought the porcelin in blue would tie the colours in well - the Pleated Planter and Jelly Planter, both in blue, work well with the pool table's blue top and the teal tones throughout the space. The plants however are faux. I tried desperately to find an indoor plant species that would survive with no natural light, fresh air or regular TLC. Yes they exist; they are called fake. Eden Gardens in Macquarie Park has a selection of very realistic looking plants that are open to neglect, they just don’t come cheap. I spent $150 on these hanging plants, but we won't ever have to replace them or pay someone to maintain them.
The decals were the hardest component to source. We received outrageous quotes for the simple text transfers we required. That was until corporate real estate, came to the rescue with Michael from Signaramaat the last minute. Within a week, I had briefed him, submitted the fonts and design, and approved the prints at midday on the day before installation. Signarama were excellent to work with, were happy to make a few rounds of tweaks, and delivered on detail and friendly service.
While the decals were going up, it was onto the chalking...i had collected a few quotes that i wanted to incorporate. I tried my best to steer away from cheesiness, while at the same time saying something encouraging, especially for those days when being at work is tough. The "What's on" section is where the event's team can keep staff up to date on events that are open internally - at this time of the year we have conferences and christmas parties, so they went up on the board. The hand drawn bottles was an idea i saw on Pinterest - i used real dried paper daisies and coloured tape to attach them to the chalkboard wall.
Leather Cushion squabs and styling
The custom made leather bench seat cushions were made by HG Furniture Solutions - Sean there is super helpful (he sold me my beautiful Carter couch which you can see in a post here, and that is how i came across them for this job). I would have loved real leather, but the budget didn't allow. Despite the faux doeskin fabric, i am really happy with their look and apparent durability.
To finish it off, the small shelf was styled, seven scatter cushions from KAS placed, Galvanised Tolix stools put in their place under the bar, some magnets, pegs and labels for the galvanised metal, and we were done.
So there you have it. This is the final product, a relaxed, fun and warm space for all to enjoy.
My step lifts a beat when i see my colleagues in The Pool Room as i pass. I am happy knowing people use it and enjoy their time there.