Inside Zoona's colourful office space

A fearless use of colour and the addition of the textures and patterns that are so familiar in the African context make this revamped office space, by Bone Studio, an inspiring workplace where bright ideas are born.


Inside Zoona's colourful office space

Being anticorporate, there is no formal reception area but instead a coffee bar, manned by Ingrid, their barista. The stools are by Dark Horse.

If you haven’t yet heard of Zoona, it’s only a matter of time. As one of South Africa’s most successful fintech startups, Zoona offers emerging entrepreneurs in Africa the technology, capital, and business support to start their own businesses as Zoona agents. With a working network that spans from Malawi through Zambia to Cape Town (and growing), Zoona is proudly African, which is why, when briefing in their Cape Town office revamp to Nicola Orpen of Bone Studio, they said “we want to bring the customer to life in an authentic African way”.

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

The Zii room where you can hang out for a bit of privacy and peace. Chairs by Marrow, curtains by The Best Blind Company, and macramé pot plant hangings by Aphiwe Shumi. Wall painted in Plascon Double Velvet White and Deep Sea Dive (G6-D1-1).

“As the company rapidly expanded, they needed larger offices. They wanted the space to feel like a home and not an office,” explains Nicola. “It needed to reflect their business: authentic, African, fun and innovative, which is why we decided to marry an African aesthetic with the anti-corporate space. Using colours and texture, only local suppliers, and sourcing bespoke pieces, we ensured that Zoona’s core values were the driving force within the design process.”

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

Custom-designed wallpaper by Urban Digital Concepts sets the scene in the two-person meeting room.

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

The Partnership room where intercountry video conferencing takes place.


Inside Zoona's colourful office space

The Handshake Pods were designed for those needing a quiet spot for a quick chat away from the café. Woven bowls from Jambos (available through Heartworks), and pendant lights by Sixth Floor.

The result is a 2 000m2 non-office space that comes alive through the bold use of colour, textures and custom furniture. The base colours are earthy, like African soil – ochres, burnt oranges, sandy browns; the feature walls are a combination of bold greens (nature and fertility) and deep blues (water and its scarcity), while the statement pieces command attention through their texture and African vibrancy, creating a great balance between all the elements.

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

Every office should have a Sleeping Pod! Cushion fabric by Room 13. Walls painted in Plascon Double Velvet white and Gold Finch (Y4-B1-2).

The African continent is represented throughout the revamped space, which was easy, Nicola says, as African textiles and fabrics provide a gold mine of inspiration. Nicola and the Bone Studio team used specific patterns and applied them in creative mediums, like bespoke printed fabrics, custom wallpaper, cutting the graphic into carpeting, painting it onto flooring and template staining onto oak tabletops. “We even printed these patterns onto acoustic ceiling panelling to create a rich, multilayered environment.”

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

The water and recycling station, by Bespoke Joinery, with the office showers to the right. Wall painted in, from left, Plascon Double Velvet Camille (G3-D2-1), Nautilous (B6-D1-1), and Terra Nova (R6-D1-2).

Having successfully created custom furniture, fabrics and light fittings for this project, Bone Studio is adding these to their Marrow product range, to continue the local support.

“There is such incredible work coming from local African artisans, it would’ve been inappropriate not to celebrate this within a proudly African workplace,” says Nicola. “The Room 13 team was faultless in its commitment to translating our African textiles into upholstery fabric (as seen on the custom lounge furniture and boardroom chairs). They performed test after test to get it right. Working with such a passionate team of women was so enjoyable; we are planning a collaboration to make an African-inspired retail range.”

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

An informal meeting lounge leads into the Call Centre Chill Room. Rattan chairs from Jambos, custom chair by Marrow using fabric by Room 13.

Another highlight of the project for Nicola was witnessing the artistry of Aphiwe Shumi, a Big Issue magazine vendor, who was commissioned to create plant macramés for the office. “One of Zoona’s drives is the ‘Girl Effect’ – supporting young women in their ambition to become business owners. We felt like we were creating our own ‘girl effect’ by supporting Aphiwe. She was able to set up her own bank account and is using the money she earned to further her studies.


Besides colour and texture, the other element that makes this office stand out is its unique use of space and its non-corporate air. “The client was very specific in that they wanted a home environment. There are many communal areas, including a bar and a kitchen. Office breakaway spaces have become generic and tired and we strive to create spaces that are completely in tune with the client’s needs and wants; in this case, African-infused and humble home lounges,” Nicola explains. “For me, the ‘throwaway’ spaces were my favourite to work with. These are areas that would usually be forgotten, hidden nooks and awkward spaces.”

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

Wall painted in Plascon Double Velvet Indian Hills (R2-D1-2). Room 13 did the desk screening, while a privacy steel screen adds greenery to the space.

For the Zoona office, those “empty” spaces were transformed into the Sleep Pod and Call Booth underneath the stairs and the Quiet Room in the call centre. “The Quiet Room was previously a storeroom; we noticed that it had great ceiling height and light potential so we zoned the lounge by colour-blocking it with green, running this through the colour-matched fabric of the curtaining and breathed some plant life into it, resulting in an African oasis within the bustling Call Centre.” As a business based on creativity and African resourcefulness, Zoona believes that “scarcity is the mother of innovation”, which Bone Studio embraced wholeheartedly for this project, thinking outside of the box within conservative parameters.

Inside Zoona's colourful office space

A writable white wall with an idea bulb by Marrow that lights up whenever anyone has a “eureka” moment. Ottoman by Ashanti.;

FEATURED IMAGE: A custom graphic vinyl by Ukwenza Designs lines the Shoebox meeting room. Upholstery by DAG Exclusive Furniture, and table by Bespoke Joinery. Ceiling painted in Plascon Polvin Nautilous (B6-D1-1).


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