Interior Design Masters 2021, Episode 2: An Office Production Of Coriolanus

Don’t you hate it when you come to the office and the walls are wearing the same thing as you?

9 budding and overly enthusiastic interior designers unleashed into the offices of three unsuspecting businesses, what could possibly go wrong?

After last week’s fairly restrictive brief of doing up a show home I was hoping for a brief that allowed the designers to have a little more fun and individuality… and let’s just say making over office spaces didn’t *really* allow for that in the sense that I wanted Siobhan to go buck wild with colour and Barbara to build a mausoleum for her next victim

It’s a whole vibe and I’m into it – like Blair Waldorf accumulating millions by slowly offing every millionaire in Manhattan. That’s the Gossip Girl reboot we really want.

They at least got fairly interesting companies to design for with a beauty brand, a tech company and a media company so there was more fun to be had than say making a room for a telemarketer or a paper sales company so there was the potential for these spaces to end up like the Buzzfeed offices on acid. Or even better, remember that episode of The Apprentice where they convinced a magazine brand owner to buy a giant silver owl for £10,000? If only they had that big a budget. Each of the offices had to be divided into 3 separate zones: a meeting room, a break room and a workspace Рmeaning that once again this week will involve navigating the tricky world of room dividers.

The teams are seemingly decided by the producers – I personally want them to pull a Drag Race and have them buddy up themselves just so we get a sense of the social hierarchy of the competition. The teams are:

Team Beauty: Michaela, Charlotte & Peter
Team Media: Jon, Lynsey & Amy
Team Tech: Siobhan, Barbara & Paul

Beauty and the Office Suites

The beauty brand had the biggest potential to be a real sand trap in that the designers could easily have played it far too stereotypically feminine and made it look like every single gaudy nail salon on the high street and I think they, especially Micaela, should be acknowledged and praised for the immediacy in which they said “nope, it’s going to be gender neutral.” because after all some of the biggest names in makeup and skincare at the moment are men and non-binary people.
Micaela instead wanted to bring a more alpine spa-like feel that highlighted the brands sustainable ethos – Charlotte was on a similar page with her plans to make a meeting table and then Peter wanted to throw a ping pong table into the mix and I think Micaela spoke for us all

Never have so many words been spoken without saying a single thing.

After the last episode it was going to be interesting to see how Charlotte coped with an even bigger brief but less Barbara. It turns out just fine, she was shut away into the meeting room where she just got on with painting her botanical inspired wall mural, which was a rather impressive piece given that it had the potential to look like she had given the room a racing stripe of military camouflage

I was less convinced by the 3D wall element that she needlessly threw into the corner of the meeting room because to me it just looked like a bathroom mirror to me

and personally I don’t want to be sitting in a meeting thinking that Terry from marketing might walk in at any second to wash their hands and check on the state of that pimple in the corner of their nose.
I’m sure she realised this and then very quickly tried to turn it into a “To Do List Mirror”

and in any office it’s only a matter of time before someone uses it to recreate this scene from Joker

And this is why I don’t work in an office.

In terms of the layout the meeting room was probably the easiest of the bunch given that all you have to do it put a long table in the middle of it (props to everyone for not making the office a Viking theme I suppose) – the break room and the workspace on the other hand were a little harder and Micaela who was already on the naughty list for making a living room look like a therapist’s office was a little stumped, and the problem may have stemmed from the fact she was trying to navigate this cabinet into the room

I’m sorry, when did the Alpine Spa become a lovely little B&B in Norfolk?
It’s the configuration of the desks that stumps her the most and in the end she settles on lining the up like a high school classroom

Which Michelle and guest judge Linda Boronkay vehemently hated but personally I think I would prefer to sit like this rather than have the awkwardness of looking at the face of a colleague all day and I will die on this hill defending Micaela and her excellent taste in crockery

While Micaela was busy creating the most aesthetically pleasing GCSE exam hall Peter was over in the break room being one of the cool kids and getting on with his plan to give the office a ping pong table despite everyone all but getting on their hands and knees begging him not to

The main problem with the ping pong table is obviously the irritating noise noise that comes along with it – although there are such a thing as silent ping pong balls. But I think the real issue is when graphic designer Kevin goes on a winning streak, becomes office champion and the power really gets to his head making him utterly insufferable. Those paddles are absolutely going ~mysteriously~ missing in under 2 weeks.
In fairness to him all of the ping pong elements are removeable and the table is actually an incredibly functional piece of furniture given that it can easily sit 6 people and be raised higher to become a standing table meaning that the break room can also be used as a second meeting space. I do think the area looked a little cluttered, especially with the second curtained off meeting room, chill out zone? Sex pod?

All I’m saying is that those are some heavy curtains and mood lighting.
I did however love the roll of paper hung on the wall and draped across the table like the cat had unrolled the kitchen towel again

I’m desperate to see the designers being able to really sink their teeth into a room because the shots they showed of (what I imagine is) Peter’s house are divine, this living room?

It’s my dream room.

Over all I think I loved the colour palette of Team Beauty the most – those greens and browns are 100% my jam. And I think I liked their partitions the most, especially the fabric one that Peter made that mirrored the mural that Charlotte had painted

It was a very cohesive office space.

ME! ME! MEDIA!

While the beauty brand was the obvious aesthetic sand trap of the bunch the media company was just a blackhole waiting sinisterly to destroy everyone that stepped foot within it. The problem being that you associate a media brand with a very youthful staff so you want to create something vibrant and fun, which at least partially explains the violent shade of tiger orange that Jon was using

Even Easy Jet has the restraint to not paint their meeting rooms this colour

I get why he did it in that sitting in an entirely beige room doesn’t inspire creativity and might keep you more alert but I can’t see spending an extended period of time surrounded by walls the same shade as Strictly Come Dancing star’s week 6 tan resulting in anything but adverse psychological effects. If the orange did prove too much he had created a pair of second much more calm and slightly more intimate seating areas

Although not too intimate because the only thing seperating the meeting rooms was a curtain that offered less privacy than a hospital curtain

He had at least realised this was a mistake and wasn’t championing what are essentially your neighbour Mildred’s net curtains as state of the art blackout blinds.

Of everyone in Team Media it was Amy who really got sucker punched by the cliched image of “coolness” as though all media companies aren’t run by a workforce of people who still consider cardigans quirky – they are my people, I know them well. Amy was hoping to capture the youthful spirit of the office by adding in some monolithically unergonomic tiered seating

It’s like something a school puts into the Sixth Form lounge thinking it’s really trendy, and it was probably made by the D&T staff and has a multitude of splinters just waiting to shred the backs of your legs. And if you think the 3D image is bad, wait until you see it in person

I mean, it could be useful if you’re putting on an office production of Coriolanus

The worst (or best) part of it all was the fact you could see Amy had kind of realised that this as a terrible idea but by then the builders were halfway through making the damn thing and she was having to convince herself that this imposing piece of what-we-shall-generously-call-furniture was a good idea and going full Regina George’s Cool-Mom in the process

But Amy’s fun didn’t stop there as she chose to add a pair of swings into the room that are just waiting to cause one hell of a workplace injury

Peter, you’re forgiven for the ping pong table, I’m sorry for everything I said. Put two in, turn the whole office into a table tennis club, at least you didn’t do swings.

Lastly in Team Media we have Lynsey’s Workspace which to me looked incredibly disjointed from both Jon’s Easy Jet Lounge and the high school drama room that Amy had created

I don’t hate it by any means but I personally really just find plain, pale, seemingly untreated wood to be incredibly ugly and if I had my way in the world pine furniture would be outlawed and punishable by death – welcome to my 2024 election campaign.
I can appreciate the amount of work and precision that went into the wooden wall art, it’s incredibly neat and I would have really liked it had it been a deeper shade of brown. What I will not stand for is that fact she has gone out of her way to make it look like the office workers are being kept in cages

are they battery hens? I cannot believe that Michelle and Linda walked through this and didn’t even discuss the problematic visuals of this room, and didn’t even so much as glance at the weirdly prominently placed David Beckham autobiography

If there’s one thing a media company does have, it’s an assortment of autobiographies from everyone that probably shouldn’t have written one. Who do you think it buying the life stories of 20 years from TOWIE?

This was by far the least successful of all the office spaces and I think all three of them prioritised the wrong elements, like why did Jon make this piece of tiny ceiling art?

Answers on a postcard please.
And then Amy just got really bogged down in “reinventing the office” and made the world’s least practical office and most dour playground – MULTIPURPOSE!

TECHnically Very Good

What this team did very well was pick a team leader, although it wasn’t very democratic and Barbara did just swoop in and perform one hell of a polite coup that Paul and Siobhan were absolutely fine with. I’m sure being, what , 8 floors(?) above ground made it that much easier for Barbara. It would be so easy for someone to just… trip

It’s not to say it was a total dictatorship, they very much ran with Siobhan’s suggestion of mid-century colours, which I really liked and were an interesting choice for a tech company

I suppose I’m just glad they didn’t go entirely black with neon lighting and make them look like they work in an Alienware computer tower.
And then Paul, the self appointed Wallpaper King, was allowed to wallpaper the meeting room as a little treat

I was worried about that choice of paper at first but once the room was up and fully styled it blended in really well and somehow wasn’t half as mind boggling as Jon’s orange

I will say I hate that hanging plant feature purely because of the poor soul that’s going to have to dust it every week, and there was going to be a lot of dusting in this office because Barbara wanted to put up a total of 5 open shelf partitions which at least got gradually smaller as the builders got more and more used to telling her “no”.
Barbara was doing her usual quite geometric design and creating a wall of arched shapes that mirrored the pattern of Paul’s wallpaper

it’s a very clever design feature and that shade of green is to die for. The final look of Barbara’s break out space struck a perfect balance of being relaxed enough to lounge in but simultneously chic enough to hold a meeting in

And I am obsessed with that rug, and the repurposed pink cable bobbins that Siobhan made fit in perfectly with the rest of the room – while she was banished outside to make them I was a little concerned they would end up looking like a stool in a nursery school.
I would have been interested to see what Siobhan would have done in the break out space because Siobhan’s work space was the most interesting of the three different offices

And I just wonder what she would have done with a room that was more relaxed. Because there was a certain amount of whimsy with the wall art in her workspace. I’m not normally a fan of text wall art but that “WIREless” one is quite fun, the “Lightbulb Moment” was less successful for me, I think it’s because while it skews a little Live.Laugh.Love the army green paint, the low hanging sparse lightbulb and the military style stencil font make it look like an environmental design feature from a Call of Duty game

Which in many ways is exactly the sort of thing the Tech Bros of the world would like. And you have to appreciate that while everyone else is wearing either dungarees or clothes they obviously don’t really care for while Siobhan is swanning about in billowy kimono sleeves

We can only stan.

The Tech Team were undeniably the best in every category and were the most creative with their brief, managing to juggle and a potentially tricky brief and a colour scheme that I think would have got the best of a lot of other people.

SOFAGEDDON

It is an undeniable win for Team Tech

and along with them both Lynsey and Charlotte are granted a reprieve – although personally I believe Lynsey owes us an explanation about the chicken cages and think either Peter or Jon could have been safe instead.

Amy, Micaela, Jon and Peter all find themselves on the Sofa of Doom sitting opposite Michelle dressed like she’s the manager of an American convenience store

and guest judge Linda Boronkay who looked like she was tonight’s headline act in a vampire cabaret

It was pretty obvious that Peter and Jon had committed lesser crimes of interior design than Amy or Micaela. Or they at least owned their mistakes in the case of Jon who agreed that he hadn’t “reinvented the office” (whatever the hell that even means) and all he had done was soften it because of his experience of working in an office. Peter meanwhile just pointed out that the net on the table could be removed.

While Amy thought it was a great idea to tell them that her titanic tiered seating area was actually meant to be bigger right after they told her that they thought it was already too big, you could almost feel Micaela’s relief as Amy kept insisting that the seating area was sophisticated and useful. And all Micaela had to do was apologise for forcing Michelle to momentarily relive year 10 History class and she was golden.

And so Amy finds herself booted from the competition and banished to the wallpaper storage room apparently

and so 8 interior designers remain

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