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Sporting life

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Nike's new offices in Soho had to express the culture of the company and be a functional workplace for its staff

Dynamic, creative, useful and, of course, sports-focused are terms Nike's UK marketing director, Rod Connors, uses to describe the Nike culture - a culture he wanted to see strongly expressed in the fit-out of its new offices in London's Soho.

Designer Jump Studios made a successful pitch but then had to wait while one potential building was lost and another found during the summer, before going into fasttrack mode. The job was on site by November, with Connors pushing for occupation by the second week of January this year. This was largely achieved, with the exception of a few items that could not meet the deadline.Not surprisingly, Simon Jordan of Jump describes Nike as a client that was open, encouraging and, not least, quick to make decisions.

Jump has used a limited but varied palette of strong forms, materials and colours to create spaces of different character. For example, alternating warm timber-boarded flooring with areas of 'blue-skies' poured resin. The dynamic of Nike's 'Swoosh' logo (call it a 'tick' and you will be excommunicated) is reflected in the sloping-walled parallelograms used for various pods and display cabinets, picking up the same blue for sloping walls, fabricated from painted MDF. Providing various degrees of privacy are large translucent sports images on film, applied to glass walls and doors.

The offices are on three floors, spreading out either side of relatively shallow floor entrances. The top, reception, level contains one big blue parallelogram reception station, some of the windows behind covered in translucent sheet, plus display cabinet, sports TV screen and bench seating. Off this to one side are 'boomerang' plan walls of meeting rooms, and, beyond, a change of mood to the calm white of desking, by Vitra, daylit on both sides. To the other side of reception, spaces include a creative meeting room with an orange snowboard-shaped table top.

One floor down, not a public entrance, you meet a glass wall sports graphic, behind which is an ethereal white room, focused on a long boardroom table. Around this room are more work spaces, including the secret, simple, functional world of design and prototyping.

Another floor down is the retailer area, where people come to see the latest product offers. You are met by a art gallerylike installation - a long, wire-mesh cage, compartmented to contain sports items, currently 'chrome' footballs from the last World Cup adverts. To one side, parallelogram pods for footwear and apparel are lined with vertically pivoting panels (also by Vitra), with sports graphics on one side and merchandise shelving on the other. Across the lobby, for the accessories room (sports bags, balls, etc), the whole room is a parallelogram rather than a pod in the space.

The UK is Nike's primary location in Europe, both for sales and creativity, so there are a lot of people passing through.Which is why there is more meeting/project team space than individual desk space. Certainly, the look is theatrical, but equally it is the workplace for 45 staff.While the foreground is the expression of the Nike culture, Nike is finding how functional it is, too, and is to appoint a facility manager to make best use of the space.



DESIGNER Jump Studios: Sean Pearson, Shaun Fernandes, Sarah Williams



SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS Furniture Vitra; lighting Artemide; showroom fittings Vizona; sports rubber and resin flooring Altro; large format graphics Genix Imaging; supply for Vitra, Maine Group storage and Artemide Corporate Workspace

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