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Monday, May 20, 2024

Huckletree’s Gabriela Hersham on playful work design

Gabriela Hersham, CEO and Co-Founder of Huckletree, discusses the brand’s award-winning Oxford Circus location, a playful workspace hub for technology innovators.

Huckletree is a design-led workspace provider offering trusted spaces where teams can work, gather together, and connect with the best minds in the innovation ecosystem. Their hubs are designed to inspire members and foster collaboration, conversation, well-being, morale and productivity. With a human, passionate, and fun approach to hospitality, they are on a mission to redefine the workspace experience.

Side Reception at Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch

The Huckletree Oxford Circus branch opened last year as a Central London workspace for Web3 and Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovators. Located on Oxford Street, it sits across two floors and 22,000 sq. Ft, and is home to 49 companies working at the forefront of the tech industry.

Here, Gabriela Hersham, CEO and Co-Founder of Huckletree, talks about the overall vision of the brand as well as the bold and playful approach behind the Oxford Circus branch, designed to support the needs of the progressive and forward thinking community members.

Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch | Photography by Andy Fraser

Tell us about the history of the brand.

Huckletree opened our first workspace in London in 2014. Since then, we’ve established ourselves as the home of innovation in the UK & Ireland, bringing together over 4,500 members working across ten inspiring, design-led spaces in London, Manchester and Dublin. We are continuing to expand and grow our portfolio in 2024. Our newest hub just off Kensington High Street opened on January 2nd 2024 and we’ll also be opening at Liverpool Street in April.

5th floor at Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch

How does Huckletree stand out as a workspace provider?

Our design aesthetic is bold, playful and supportive of collaboration. When people visit us, they often comment on how generously sized our communal areas are. This is intentional. With more people working between home and the office, when they make the journey into work they are coming in to connect with others and build relationships. The social side to the work experience is really important.

Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch | Photography by Andy Fraser

Your Oxford Circus workspace has won several awards for its design. How did you approach designing this location – what was the brief?

The design needed to have a modern, creative aesthetic with careful consideration of colour throughout. With each location we go through a design process that typically starts with a thought. That thought is usually something along the lines of “how many ounces of rainbow can this location handle?” I fully believe that rainbow and sophistication can coexist!

Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch | Photography by Andy Fraser

Tell us about some of the new design features that were unique to this location?

The Oxford Circus (OC) hub was our first hub to open post pandemic. We spent a lot of time reflecting on how the role of the workspace had changed in those pivotal years. OC marked an intentional shift in our design towards workspaces that are thoughtfully designed for wellness and happiness at work, as well as productivity and performance. This included the use of colour to create moods and develop emotional reactions within the space, thereby supporting healthier and more productive teams. We also introduced dichroic colours to inspire creativity and big picture thinking throughout the space.

Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch | Photography by Andy Fraser

How did you manage balancing the function of the space with the aesthetics?

At the start of the project, we had a clear vision and commitment to creating a vibrant workspace that was functional and fit for purpose. What comes first is ensuring a range of spaces to fit every working need – this includes inspiring spaces for meetings, huddles, casual conversations, socialising and focus time. Ensuring that everyone is comfortable working from our spaces is important. Our design is bold but not overwhelming. Moments of calm are offered throughout the hub, for example our individual focus booths allow our members to work quietly and switch off in peaceful surroundings.

4th Floor at Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch

How did you tackle issues surrounding sustainability?

We became BCorp certified in June 2023 which brought a renewed focus on sustainability across all functions of our business. We select our partners carefully, and choose to work alongside other BCorp accredited companies including Modus Workspace who were our design partners for the Oxford Circus hub. Sustainable signature materials were used throughout, including wood, terrazzo, corrugated steel, reeded glass and biophilia. We are proud to share that the opening of the hub diverted 99.1% of waste from landfill, which avoided more than 500 tonnes of CO2. This is the equivalent of 25,000 trees needing to grow for a year to capture CO2 emissions! The project was also awarded a Silver SKA* rating.

Huckletree’s Oxford Circus branch | Photography by Andy Fraser

How does Huckletree continue to innovate within the workspace industry?

We continue to innovate by ensuring we continue to listen to what our members are saying and their evolving needs. We formally gather feedback twice a year through our member survey, and we use this data to prioritise what we work on as a business. Analysing this data and ensuring it is regularly updated ensures we are offering our community the amenities they need, and ensuring we are balancing forward thinking, exciting design with functionality. This year we are also setting up member committees across all of our hubs to ensure a constant flow of input and feedback. This communication loop is critical to us – we believe in the power of co-creation when it comes to building community.

huckletree.com | IG: @huckletree

Rebekah Killigrew
Rebekah Killigrewhttp://www.rebekahkilligrew.com
Editor | www.architecturemagazine.co.uk | www.interiordesignermagazine.co.uk

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