Grimshaw has completed a 70,000-square-feet ‘Tech Hub’ for the online fashion brand Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP), located near the company’s headquarters in White City, west London. YNAP was formed from the merger of Italian luxury sales site Yoox and British retailer Net-a-Porter in 2015, and the new hub provides space for all of the company’s UK technology teams – up to 650 staff – under one roof.
Visitors are greeted by a bronze-encased reception desk, video walls and a sculptural ‘arbour walk’ comprising softly-lit timber baffles. At the end of the arbour walk, an Innovation Lab features a digital ‘ideas wall’, where up to seven people can work together using mobile technology to manipulate each other’s data. Technology is used extensively to manage the space: even staff lockers are are activated by mobile phone and allocated each day according to need.
“Combining contrasting concepts is a design detail that runs throughout the work environment, with two core themes of the ‘code behind the catwalk’ and ‘London meets Milan’, with the latter embodied through visual references to both locations”, explains the architect. “The idea of contrasts is translated into a ‘warp and weft’ aesthetic with complementary materials and colours providing a sense of movement and texture”.
Materials were chosen to create a “calm and refined atmosphere”, says the architect, and include timber, concrete, velvet, leather, felt, bronze and ceramics. Within the boardroom, a hand-crafted table is made from solid olive ash with blackened steel legs, accentuated by caramel-toned Italian leather chairs. Greenery also features prominently, with over 2400 individual plants. Within the boardroom and meeting rooms, acoustic dampening is provided through a combination of living moss and felt panels.