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You Won't Believe These Three Manchester Luxury Fit Outs

Suddenly Manchester office fit outs are looking very sexy. The last 12 months have seen a rash of interior design projects so glamorous and fiercely on-trend they risk making the staff look dowdy.

Is this a late-cycle indulgence, the kind of exuberence that comes before an economic fall? Or does this tell us something about the Manchester psychology? Bisnow takes you on a walk round some highlights and invites leading Manchester designer Atul Bansal to offer an intriguing explanation.

1. The In-House TV Studio

Travel Counsellor's in-house TV studio at Venus Building, Trafford Quays

Travel Counsellors moved from Bolton to take 28.5K SF at Peel's Venus Building, Trafford Quays — and what they really wanted was their own TV studio.

The £2M move — which includes two floors of open-plan office space with central breakout areas that support agile working — means they can broadcast live to their 1,700 plus franchises across the globe.

Glass walls mean the studio is a natural talking point for the 300-strong staff: a striking IT server room that is visible through a coloured glass pane. But it is not just for gawping at: The studio is used for recording the Travel Counsellors YouTube channel.

They broadcast one live show per day and also welcome companies such as Disney to come in and showcase their products to Travel Counsellors.

The fit out for the £550M turnover business was undertaken by Overbury, and took nine weeks to complete.

2. The Copper Roof

NCC Group's Copper-Roofed Reception, designed and project managed by OBI Property

Cybersecurity business NCC Group took 60K SF at Allied London's XYZ Building and fitted it out in their own special way, with help from OBI Property. The outcome included a copper ceiling for their reception area.

OBI head of design Andrew Crompton said: "They wanted a wow-factor reception, and working in the cybersecurity business I thought the copper roof echoed the idea of the Faraday Cage [used to block electromagnetic fields which can interfere with computer equipment and security]."

The fit out  — which came in at around £75/SF — is at the more expensive end of the scale, but by no means Manchester's priciest. And, as it happens, the suite includes a few rooms protected by real Faraday Cages.

3. A Really Expensive Coffee Machine

The top-of-the-range La Marzocco coffee system (top left) at law firm Addleshaw Goddard's new Manchester office, One Saint Peter's Square

Good coffee is now a workplace essential, and law firm Addleshaw Goddard wanted the best at their 65K SF Manchester office at One St Peter’s Square.

The glittering La Marzocco coffee machine they opted for costs a lot more than a filter cone and a cup. Standard models come with price tags up to — and beyond — £12K.

“We worked closely with them to deliver their vision of a finish that offered employees a luxury home away from home feel," Styles & Wood Head of Projects Gideon Leven said. "Catering facilities needed to go much further than a tea point and staff kitchen. Instead, a fully catered restaurant was designed and installed, providing seating for 80 people, a walk-in cold store and high spec amenities, including a top-of-the-range La Marzocco coffee system."

So that nobody need drink their lovely coffee in discomfort, bespoke leather chairs and hand veneered walnut tables from William Hands were installed along with fine art in the meeting rooms.

It is all for a good cause, Leven said. “There is little point investing in a luxury finish without longevity and by going beyond just the fixtures, a high-specification fit out can help future-proof a business’ space and offer even further returns,” he said.

Manchester's Voyeurs And Exhibitionists Remake The Office Market

Space Zero's 4.5K SF office at the Zenith Building, Manchester

Glass walled studios, James Bond-style reception areas, West Wing-style staff canteens. It all costs money.

But sexy does not have to be expensive — Space Zero transformed their 4.5K SF office at Zenith Building for £460K.

“A white box mezzanine suite with little direct access to daylight was transformed into a bright, uncompromisingly stylish, flexible and memorable workspace,” Space Zero chief executive Wayne Taylor said.

But every fit out has to be sexy, at whatever cost, explains one of the city’s leading interior designers. He says that in Manchester, a city which does not know the meaning of the word "shy," this is doubly true.

“A good design means you can’t stop looking. It encourages the voyeur in you, because people love watching, it’s a very intimate thing. But people also like to show off. So interior design in Manchester has become both voyeuristic and exhibitionistic, and both impulses mean the building is become one with the people who use it,” Shield Bird Group co-founder Atul Bansal said.

It is the Manchester's unique upfront mix of exhibitionism and voyeurism that is changing the way it looks, Bansal said.

“It would be presumptuous to say this is only happening in Manchester, but Manchester is, and has always been, very much a city about its people. It’s not a city that’s about being shy — and its spaces are not shy. So other cities will follow the trend — but in Birmingham they are probably less public, and in London nobody notices you anyway," he said.