Foolscap Studio 9 The Commons South Yarra

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Adèle Winteridge
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Emily Minchin
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Kirby Humphries, Samuel McIntyre, Akiko Bamba
  • Client
    The Commons

The Commons South Yarra, designed by Foolscap Studio, provides an updated vision for what coworking will look and feel like in a post-pandemic milieu. The designers’ conceptual design response, led by ideas of ‘work-meets-wow’ and ‘serious fun’, colourfully redefines the workplace while acknowledging the opportunities and obstacles of the work-from-home model.

Recently, the working-from-home typology has emerged in parallel to office space. Workers now expect spaces to cater to them in ways they cannot experience in their homes. At the same time, the provision of quiet retreats and home-style comforts have shown to be of equal importance when it comes to progressive, inclusive and inspiring workplace design.

During initial client workshops, Foolscap developed a brief that posed the questions: ‘what will tomorrow’s workplace look like?’; and ‘what motivates us to come into the office when we can do it all from home?’. Their design response was consequently led by what ‘you can’t get at home’, with emphasis on collaborative spaces, specialist facilities and amenities that cater to communal and individual needs in a joyous yet highly multifunctional manner.

Facilities have been expanded to accommodate all, including a makerspace, multimedia podcast studio, and dedicated photography and parents' rooms. A softly-lit sensory room offers members time to disengage, meditate or practise yoga amongst tranquil white tones. Feeding a sense of ‘serious fun’ is the sunken conversation pit: a plush built-in lounge, and the ‘think tank': a reconfigurable space designed to facilitate connections and teamwork.

Conceptually, South Yarra is a maturation of The Commons’ previous fit-outs, so Foolscap brought across their client’s established brand and wellness values. ‘The ground floor reception — with its identifiably Commons colour palette and public-facing personality — boasts a bespoke hand-wash station, emphasising the notion of arriving at ‘a building that takes care of you’. ‘Serious fun’ seamlessly integrates ‘wow’ space with workspace, with colourful moments scattered throughout each level and connected by a custom staircase. This strategy is based around the idea that The Commons South Yarra is a place where members choose their own world and revel in constant contrast.

The material palette reflects a gradation of tone, from the light-filled reception to the moodier events spaces on level four. Upholstery designed by Indigenous Australian artist, Jimmy Pike, is featured on custom joinery and soft furnishings across different environments – all complemented by locally-made materials and select designer and second-hand furniture pieces. Exposed basebuild concrete floors on the upper levels were ground and polished to form a durable surface that balances raw with new, while warm blackbutt flooring grounds the project firmly in place and contributes a new Australian vernacular for the brand.