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.
THE HOME OFFICE
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”.
“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.”
LOCAL IS LEKKER
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
LOOK AND FEEL
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.”
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.
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).
PHOTOGRAPHS: ANDREA VAN DER SPUY
PRODUCTION: NICOLA ORPEN
WORDS: LYNETTE BOTHA