A modern interior design in a historic setting – Clariant's new office at Monopolis
Industrial atmosphere thoughtfully combined with a touch of history and state-of-the-art technologies – that's how one could describe Clariant's new office at the Monopolis complex in Lodz, Poland. And while the interior looks impressive, the design and execution were marked by many challenges. Find out how the experts working on the project managed to overcome them.
Clariant, the Swiss focused and innovative specialty chemicals company, recently consolidated its premises in Lodz (Poland) and opened a new Shared Services Centre office for over 300 employees from 20 different countries. It is uniquely located in Monopolis, a refurbished former distillery, certainly one of the most inspiring revitalisation projects in modern Lodz. The complete office development project for Clariant was overseen by Cushman & Wakefield, who were responsible for the transaction, construction works, interior design, as well as legal support.
“As Clariant puts its employees first, we wanted to create the best work environment possible. Previously, it had its premises in three different locations, so it was important in the project to find a place that would easily accommodate all its employees. Key were also the location and easy accessibility by car and public transport. The board directors, who were actively involved in the project from the outset, also wanted their office to reflect the true spirit of Lodz. They wanted it to be Clariant’s best office in the world and - as we can see now - it's been a success! It’s a joy to see the name Clariant hit headlines in prestigious real estate, architecture and design publications. The office is truly top quality, which makes me absolutely delighted,” says Zuzanna Krech, Head of Central Poland, Cushman & Wakefield, who was responsible for the transaction.
Cushman & Wakefield were part of the project from its very inception. They supported Clariant during the rental procedures, managing the project, and – with the help of The Design Group Konrad Krusiewicz – they provided the interior designs. Together with Bierć Legal Advisors, Cushman & Wakefield also provided legal support, while Nowy Styl helped provide great-looking and fitting furniture.
Paweł Zając, responsible for project management at Cushman & Wakefield, admits that one of the first problems was to deliver the project within budget. The project coincided with the construction peak period and negotiating reasonable rates with contractors proved a challenge. But with the commitment and flexibility of all stakeholders, the goal was achieved.
“Our and Clariant's belief that Monopolis is the best location combined with the developer's determination enabled us to agree new deadlines by annexing the lease agreement, the time schedule and bills of quantities. This required us to ensure flexible lease administration at the previously occupied buildings. We also had to come up with backup options. The project execution in the revitalised space was extraordinary and required more flexibility than usual, as well as smooth cooperation of all project stakeholders and even developing new technologies for the building,” explains Pawel Zając.
The interior of the office is industrial with a dash of chic. Konrad Krusiewicz, founder of The Design Group, who were responsible for the interior design, says that the barrel vault with multiple slanted surfaces posed the biggest challenge at the design stage.
“Since we wanted to emphasise the vault and make the space visually larger, we decided to utilize the height variability when designing the lighting. To this end, we placed mirrors at a height of 2.7 m (approx. 9 ft) and reaching the vault at about 4 m (approx. 13 ft). We managed to achieve not only great depth but also an incredible effect. From the very start our goal was to maintain the original geometry and look of the previous century’s original bricks used inside, which encompass the atmosphere of this former factory. By using the mirrors that reach the vault, we managed to create a feeling of endless layers of bricks,” said Konrad Krusiewicz, owner and founder of The Design Group.
Ewelina Mężyńska, the designer from The Design Group, responsible for the overall concept of the office, says that there were many more unique concepts.
“Our aim was to maintain the feeling of large space which initially was an empty factory floor and to create separate working spaces for conferences and meetings. That’s why we placed cubicles 2.80 m (approx. 9 ft) high with free space above them in the centre of the floor, so that we could leave the ceiling open,” says Ewelina Mężyńska, a designer from The Design Group.
Modern, zero-waste furniture
The furniture also features innovative solutions. Agnieszka Mehouachi, Regional Manager, Nowy Styl Group, the company responsible for the delivery of the furniture, said: “We decided to make use of the Swiss style that's rooted in the brand's history, but at the same time we wanted the furniture to blend naturally with the interior of the former distillery. Our goal was to combine the designer's vision with functionality, high quality and ergonomic qualities, which was a major challenge. For example, we had to make some fabrics fire retardant so that they don't only look good but also comply with all fire safety regulations. Our close cooperation with the client and the designer allowed us to use state-of-the-art solutions, such as the height-adjustable eRange office desks or Sail chairs with our patented Glide-Tec system. Clariant is the only company in town offering their employees such a high-quality setting. This creates an office space you actually want to work in.”
Another challenge required moving some legacy furniture and placing it in the new building in a way that accommodates its style and new layout.
“While we've been supplying office equipment to Clariant in Poland for the past few years, this project was unique. First, we had to carefully analyse the equipment at all the previous locations and list all the furniture that we could reuse in the new space, minimizing waste and complying with recycling and zero-waste principles. Our Space Planning department cooperated closely with the client and the designer from The Design Group at every stage of the project. Our aim was to combine excellent functionality, ergonomic design and high quality with a unique, un-office style. There were many challenges along the way. And while the project took us many months and consisted of many stages, the end result made it all worth it,” adds Agnieszka Mehouachi.
Monopolis is not just rich in history
Monopolis is a registered landmark, so creating office space required also legal advice. Artur Bierć, owner and founder of Bierć Legal Advisors, the law firm overseeing the legal side of the project, emphasises that there were also other issues to consider.
“Clariant’s office was a unique project where we had to take into account not only the construction and fit-out process underway but also its location in Monopolis. The facility is not only a listed building but also a venue of cultural events in Lodz and fits into the urban fabric of the city and has a number of non-office functions. The location of Clariant's office in such an unusual environment required consideration and integration of legal issues ranging far beyond the construction and administrative law, and appropriate regulation of these issues in binding contracts. In the course of our work and analyses, we designed and implemented several legal solutions taking into account the unique location of the office to ensure its efficient operation,” says Artur Bierć, Legal Advisor.
Artur Bierć also adds that in such situations it is worth working with legal specialists who have both the relevant experience and know-how to provide innovative solutions for a variety of needs.
“As a result, the entrepreneur can focus on running the business with the certainty that the law firm, together with Cushman & Wakefield, will conduct the whole process comprehensively. Our law firm has a few specialists in various fields. In addition, we have focused on the development of modern technologies and have at our disposal several solutions which proved to be extremely important in difficult moments such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst relying on remote work solutions and mobile technologies, we can guarantee clients security and easy access to legal services, and help them save costs and time compared with traditional cooperation,” adds Artur Bierć, Legal Advisor.
Success thanks to cooperation
Although the project work was exceptionally complex, the end result is definitely impressive.
“We are happy to provide prime office space to our people. Thanks to the consolidation of the offices in Lodz we are able to smoothen co-operation within the teams and focus on further process optimization to deliver more complex and better-tailored service to our customers. Without any doubt, the astonishing interior design is also a valuable asset in attracting employees with the required skills and knowledge. It’s a highlight to see that Clariant has found a place in this very old and traditional place in Lodz. It truly is a mesmerizing and unique building,” says Hans Bohnen, Member of the Executive Committee, who shares his perspective on the investment.
“The project was multidimensional and very challenging for all the stakeholders,” says Tomasz Lesniewski, the Head of Shared Service Center Poland, adding: “Thanks to the engagement of all the parties involved and constant dialogue we were able to come up with best possible solutions and provide top-shelf working conditions for our employees. The project team, which consisted of a dedicated Clariant project manager supported by the local management team and Board Members and Cushman & Wakefield representatives, did an excellent job. We all made it together and the office is exactly how we imagined it to be.”
“Assuring proper communication between all the engaged parties and timely execution of actions was not an easy task. From working on design creation, which had to fulfil all our requirements, through the construction phase, up to the coordination of the relocation of over 300 people we all collaborated closely, and I believe that was one of the key essentials of the overall success,” Karolina Balcerzak, Clariant Monopolis Project Manager, who talks about her impressions of the project.
About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with approximately 53,000 employees in 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2019, the firm had revenue of $8.8 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services. To learn more, visit www.cushmanwakefield.com or follow @CushWakeCE on Twitter.