Stepping into the new office of Sydney PR firm Marie-Claude Mallat PR is like stepping into the workplace you thought only existed in your childhood dreams. The PR company has just relocated to the inner-city suburb of Chippendale and the space is nothing short of jaw-dropping. From the white-washed walls to the pink floors and unbelievably high ceilings, every inch of it is undeniably chic and inviting.
MCMPR's new space in Chippendale is part-office, part-showroom. Playing host to luxury brands including Zimmermann, Net-a-Porter, The Outnet, Vestiaire Collective, Tory Burch and Romance Was Born, the showroom is every fashion girl's dream walk-in wardrobe. Sunlight streams in from the huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and we can't imagine a more alluring place to spend your nine-to-five.
The style of the space has a mid-century feel. Unexpected touches like a concrete reception desk, created by Sydney company Concreative, and lime green carpets (added in after this shoot was taken), add a 'wow' factor. With so many interesting design elements, it's hard to believe that Mallat didn't bring a designer or builder on board for the renovation (more on that below).
MyDomaine was lucky enough to take a tour of the space and speak to Mallat about the renovating process and how it all came together. Read on to get a sense of the building's interesting history, and a peek into the beautiful open-plan office.
Tell me about the space. What was it like when you initially saw it?
This building originally was a shoe factory. It was established in the late 1800s, and it was Sydney’s first shoe factory. The history of it is incredible.
When we came to see the space, there was a corporate business in here. It was all partitioned off, really dark. They’d painted everything dark charcoal, the floors were those dark carpet squares. As soon as my husband saw it he was like, “Oh no, that’s awful.” And I was like, but those beams look amazing. The ceilings looks amazing. The windows are really beautiful. From there we kind of had a vision for how we wanted to renovate. It was a lot more about stripping down than putting in.
How did you start the process of redesigning the space?
Well, we had to do it really quickly because we had to settle within two weeks. And every builder, every designer that I spoke to was too busy to do it in such a short time frame. They were quoting it at a three to six month build, even based on a really simple brief. So, my husband who is a lawyer chose not to take his next project, and to project manage this instead. He’s never done that kind of thing before! We had some contacts who were happy to help, but really he managed it, and he turned it around in six weeks.
That must’ve been a crazy six weeks!
My husband and I are very logical. So if something couldn’t be done, we just moved on. There were actually no major disasters. It’s kind of how it works in our business—if the client changes or the brief changes, you have to roll with it. You just have to change your plan. It sort of had to be that way with the fit out here. A part of me goes, should I have had a designer? Should I have had the latest and greatest builder? But I feel like it’s a nice quality.
What was the process of actually moving like?
We literally moved out on the Friday, spent the June long weekend tweaking, hanging and putting boxes away, and had the team start in the fresh space on the Tuesday. We didn’t bring much clutter with us either, which was really good. We were carrying a lot of stuff that it was time to say goodbye to. It’s nice to be minimal in this space, because with what we do, you have to be thinking all the time. It’s quite nice to not have cluttered spaces and space to think.
Where did you find the inspiration behind the colours?
The pink floor would’ve been the thing I spent the most time on. Originally, I wanted to put a concrete floor in, but it turns out this is a heritage building and the original flooring underneath the current floor is protected, so you can’t do anything with it.
We drilled down and took a look at the original floors, and it’s those beautiful big floorboards—they’re gorgeous. So we thought, let’s rip this false floor up, but then it would have changed the levels of everything. So with concrete flooring and original flooring ruled out, we thought, let’s just paint the floor we’ve got currently. I thought white was too clinical, like a studio, and then a friend of mine pushed me into colour.
From there, I just spent so much time at the paint shop. We tried so many colours! In the end we went with a Porter's Paint called English Rose. When we first looked at it this space, it looked very masculine, but now with the floors it feels very soft. What we love about the floor is that in a day or two we can change the colour. You can literally just paint over it.
Where did you source the furniture?
It's all vintage, all second-hand. These chairs were found in Ken Neale’s workshop [Twentieth Century Modern Furniture in Darlinghurst]. Carina Hicks, my friend, convinced him to sell these chairs to us. But they were a butter-colour fabric so we got them re-covered in this pink velvet at Justin Puddick Upholstery. They were all original 1960s pieces. The green carpet is also from a carpet supplier, but we got him to cut it in a round for us. None of it pre-exists anywhere else, so it’s a bit different.
It’s nice that you can see outdoors, too.
Yes! You do feel very engaged in the outside space with these big windows. But we can always put the blinds down too. With these windows, we’re thinking we’ll do some installations and different decals from time to time.
How have you found the space so far?
We had a breakfast showing not too long ago, and a lot of the people who had been to the old office came to this new one for the first time. And the response was amazing! It was so overwhelming, actually. So that’s really nice. It actually works out really well because people are happy to come here, people are happy to present their collections here, and the team are happy to come to work every day. The other thing is that we’ve actually loved moving in to the area.
It doesn’t feel fully developed here, so it has a really nice localised feeling. There are a lot of students so it feels very young and vibrant, and there are these amazing little food places and galleries popping up here and there. We’re trying to include them in the things that we do. When we did our breakfast, we made sure we used all local suppliers.
Who does all the flowers?
We use My Violet for florals. We don’t really have a formal arrangement, we just call her as we need and ask what she has that day. We change it really often. Sometimes I just like driving past and seeing what’s there, and changing the flowers with our mood. It depends where the focus is, so if we’re working with a more sleek and contemporary brand, you can go more sculptural. If you’re working with a softer brand like Zimmermann, you can go with something more feminine.