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Cubes Magazine
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McGrath Double Bay does WFH a bit differently

Blending commercial and residential design in a way that we don’t see everyday, McGrath Double Bay by The Unlisted Collective presents a new paradigm of home office, being that it’s inverted.

McGrath Double Bay does WFH a bit differently

When the world received memo last year, prescribing the shift en masse to working from home, most of us packed up our essential office materials and took them home to makeshift home offices. When it came to redesigning the offices of McGrath Double Bay, however, The Unlisted Collective deviated from the pack, opting to bring home to the office instead.

Inspired by the core ethos of McGrath’s daily operations as an estate agency, “the idea was that waiting areas were to feel like you could be stepping into someone’s living room,” says Bianca Fraser, founding director of The Unlisted Collective.

This immersion within a residential setting was integral and a key driver to the materiality selections and seamless flow between spaces. With custom elements dotted throughout — handmade plaster lighting fixtures by Anna Charlesworth, plush carpet, softening sheers and an overall muted palette — the stage is set to welcome inward and encourage the development of community.

Creating elevated workspace experiences is a focus high on the agenda for the project’s Sydney-based interior architecture and design studio. “We are always looking at improving design, with a large focus on how the teams within the office work together, explains Fraser, adding, “there is both a functional aspect [to this] as well as an aesthetic one — both of which are equally as important.”

As visitors to the office space walk past full-height glazed meeting rooms with custom 3.6 metre long concrete tables to either side, the entry experience is anchored by an expansive timber reception desk. Its rounded edges and central location act as the welcoming concierge to the space, and from which all other areas pivot.

Involving the transformation of a former shoe store, execution of the office come luxe residential fitout did not come without its share of complications. Namely, “we were challenged by a set of columns running straight down the middle of the space, which then provide a strong colonnade effect and allow for the reinforcing of symmetry within the space,” shares Fraser.

The central spine that now runs the length of the finished office acts as a key programmatic component, connecting two meeting and waiting rooms as well as workable task stations for 32 people while providing a functionally flexible interstitial space ideal for impromptu gatherings and various other ad hoc office use cases. Complete with a meeting table and an elongated storage system of custom joinery, make this foundational piece of the programme a prime hub for the cultivation of collaboration.

The McGrath Double Bay office fitout is just the latest instalment of an enduring relationship between the client and designer. Following on from projects that entailed the fitouts of two previous offices — in Sydney’s Hunters Hill and Mosman suburbs — as well as the headquarters at Pyrmont, McGrath Double Bay maintains that each project expresses its own unique narrative, all the while upholding a stalwart connection to the grounding pillars of McGrath Real Estate.

Connecting each of the McGrath Real Estate offices is a similar veined identity that links the spaces to their brand, while also carving out separate identifiable personalities. Each space sits within its own differing context and needed to speak the language of its potential client, while also celebrating the history of the buildings they sit within. While Double Bay sees a lighter palette, with particular detail to an expression of luxe, there are key commonalities between the previous iterations.

Double Bay and Mosman both exude a muted warmth of pared-back neutrals, with refined details and tactile elements, while Hunters Hill is a more masculine approach with its own fireside setting and dark and moodier palette. Throughout each, terrazzo, shopfront glazing, and drapery are all used to conjure a feeling of ‘home’, while the workspaces are all highly tactile and functional.

McGrath Double Bay Offices beautifully reflect the result of close collaboration and expression achieved through continued client/designer engagement, and the variations within differing contexts. The Unlisted Collective evoke a place of calm and escape within the McGrath offices, referencing the familiar wanting feels of the ‘home’ setting. The result is both welcoming and all-encompassing.

Photography by Justin Alexander

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