Łukasz Reszka, Maciej Kowaluk, Anna Patyk, Angelika Czajczyńska, Martyna Słowek
Studio Bardzo (space branding)
Our task in this project was seemingly easy. We were to refresh the interiors of a four-story office building to suit the needs of a new tenant – a big IT company.
However, the global IT player from the USA planned to move into an unusual building. For their office, they chose the historical edifice of the Renoma department store, which had been part of Wrocław since 1930. Was this an impossible merger?
The large space was intended to undergo only a small makeover at first. We were to refresh only the floors and walls. But even during the concept stage, we managed to convince the investor to introduce bigger changes. By rearranging the common staff areas, which we advised, the company took an important step towards building an attractive corporate image in this very competitive market. We started with a simple task and ended with a conceptually interesting and diverse design for the entire office.
But how to connect these two different worlds: the innovative nature of IT and the historically significant architecture of the Renoma building? An extraordinary building, we might add. It was built by the Wertheim brothers as one of the department stores belonging to their Berlin trading company (Warenhaus Wertheim) and designed by a famous Berlin architect, Hermann Dernburg. Its elevation is made up of rows of windows running along the entire perimeter, and ceramic cornices and glazed external under-sill walls running below, with gleaming gold above the windows. Small details play a big role in this elevation. The plastically shaped facade is decorated with 100 bas-reliefs of human heads created by the sculptor Ulrich Nitschke. They depict the faces of people from all continents, representatives of various ethnicities, inspired by the covers of the then popular travel magazine, Atlantis. For almost 100 years, these sculptures have been a symbol not just of the international nature of trade but also of being open to other people, respecting their personality, origins, and beliefs.
The portrait sculptures became a visual connector between tradition and the IT industry. We replicated the main element of the elevation in the interior. In collaboration with Studio Bardzo, original wall murals were created. In these images, historical figures are presented in a technological context. The expressive colors taken from the brand manual (yellow, black, grey, and white) are supplemented with gold, creating a reference to the facade of the building.
The faraway context of pre-war Wrocław was invoked in the choice of material – natural wood – and the verdant green of the plants. The past spirit of the city can be sensed in the kitchen, which was designed in the French retro bistro style. There are seating areas integrated with coffee house counters, big dining tables, soft furniture, armchairs, shelves with plants, and magazines. A mellow ambience comes from standing lamps and wall lights.
And the largest common space – with the main kitchen playing the role of a corporate meeting place – was designed as an urban jungle. The furniture is fully mobile, allowing transformation from a dining-recreation arrangement into one suiting an auditorium.
In the city center, in a historic building symbolizing openness to other cultures and nationalities, we created a resonant modern office space for a multicultural, multilingual community.