Office Principles North was chosen to deliver the refurbishment of the headquarters of furniture giant, DFS, following a competitive tender. The project was designed to reinvigorate a traditional three-storey office building, into a modern, collaborative and socially-oriented environment.
Our primary focus was the creation of an exciting new coworking cafe bar, deli and community garden space on the ground floor of the building. Its innovative and flexible design has enabled DFS employees to connect with the outdoors and positively impacted on how they eat, meet and work together.
The Doncaster-based group was founded in 1969 as Northern Upholstery. The company bought Direct Furnishing Supplies, its supplier, in 1983 and was rebranded as DFS. It has 212 stores, including several in Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands, and owns Sofology, the online sofa seller.
The sofa specialist has been named one of the UK’s Top Employers for five years running and prides itself on well-trained people providing the best customer service. It’s also a business that still manufactures everything in the UK, as it has done for more than 50 years, so its products and its proud heritage are of the utmost importance.
Our task was to modernise all three floors of its Doncaster headquarters, to deliver a more social and inclusive environment with well balanced floorplates. At ground level, we would take out one of the existing wings and transform the space into a coworking cafe and community garden setting, working with Olive Catering to deliver a new ‘grab and go’ style food and beverage offering.
The design would be unified by an intelligent use of flooring and decoration, promoting DFS products and craftsmanship and reflecting the brand’s Yorkshire roots. We have rejuvenated the workspace, delivering a vibrant and flexible office, catering and event space that is the home of comfort innovation. It features a new accessible, open plan layout that promotes employee collaboration through a series of purpose-built office, catering, event and activity-based spaces. Its centrepiece is the new coworking cafe bar and deli, with seating arrangements to encourage small informal meetings and larger ‘family-style’ gatherings.
A new welcoming reception area flows into a ground floor virtual store and touchdown space that can be reconfigured for events, launches or town hall gatherings, with seating for more than 80 people.
A wide range of furniture options increases the choice of places to meet and work, with high tables, a giant extendable sofa, couple seats, family gathering table, cosy club bench seats, wheelchair accessible meeting booths and a collection of DFS breakout furniture.
Wellness is at the heart of the design and is promoted through the addition of a new landscaped community garden. The space connects employees to the outdoors, with decked seating and house frame structures for meetings and social events, as well as an outdoor chef station and allotment.
The first, second and third floors all benefit from a workspace refresh, including a new training hub and reconfigured furniture, as well as breakout, meeting and additional activity-based workspaces. A new platform lift has been installed to improve connectivity from the ground floor to the first floor.
Our design team has cleverly deconstructed and reimagined DFS’s product range, applying a naturally-derived colour palette, tactile surfaces, patterns and comfort throughout the space. They include warm fabrics and timber flooring, a handcrafted slatted feature wall and large scale wall and window branding, with lighting and materials selected according to their sustainability credentials.
Photography: courtesy of Office Principles