Creating the right space for your business is a fine art. A delicate balance of elements affecting how your people and your business grow. We caught up with James, one of the partners of Film production enterprise, Arts and Sciences, one of our clients, to ask how his vision became a reality at Canvas.
When James was given the challenge of finding a new London HQ for the Californian company, he had a clear vision of what he was looking for. “We wanted something different. We wanted a place where people could come and hang out and feel comfortable – so I thought, don’t look for an office, look for a club house.”
We’re sat at 53 Duke Street, one of three Canvas offices in Mayfair. The sun beats down over London and soft light streams through the large south-west facing windows of the lounge area. We’re sat on a chestnut leather sofa and surrounded by hand selected artwork. A surfboard mounted on the wall blends tastefully with designer vintage furniture in shades of cream. The vibe is relaxed. The coffee, strong and hot.
We ask James how he found Canvas. “I called my real estate agent and he says, well, where do you want to be? I think Mayfair, I said, which is counter intuitive because the production industry was in Soho or East London. And he said, well, I have a place you can see today. So, we walked down here a few hours later, I saw the space and immediately felt comfortable. It was just something about the building, plus the location was ideal.
“I thought, OK this is good, but my business mind was like – come on, don’t take the first place you see, you gotta see some more. So, I got this estate agent to show me a bunch of offices, both leased and serviced, and none of them was as nice as this, and I just kept on coming back to it.”
Businessmen like James do their homework and so he shopped around. “I saw one place off Harley Street. It was a palatial space. It used to be Tom Ford’s fashion house, with beautiful high ceilings, parquet floors, original fireplaces but it hardly had any natural light at all, it was super sterile. I think landlords think that’s what clients want, but we wanted it to have character because we’re a creative company.
“There was no vibe on that street, but when you walk out on Duke Street it’s just one of the most beautiful streets in London. Turning left you have all the cafes, then on James Street there’s every great restaurant you can imagine. Everything’s here.”
So, what happened next? “I got a second opinion from Jamie, a fantastic interior designer and I said, can you come see this place and see if you can put your design style on to the space – what would you do? He walked in and said, “Wow, this really feels right. It’s got a vibe.” And he immediately started throwing some ideas around.
“Once I knew he had an idea for it I hired him to do all the interior design and we went into negotiations for a contract which went very well, and we were happy with the terms. But what was really cool, was that we got the keys a month early so we could start decorating and the whole process of putting our stamp on it began.
“What I didn’t know was that Canvas has painters and carpenters and all kind of people to help – I thought we’d have to do all that ourselves! So that made it really easy as we could just schedule in the labourers that Canvas has. So, when we asked for painting to be done, we were just very specific about what paint and where, and it was done. It was amazing. We even asked if we could change the hardware for the electrics to make some of the small design details work.
“Another thing we found when we were being shown around was that you guys put a bathroom on every corner of the building. Another place I looked at just had one stinky old bathroom in the back somewhere. We have up to 20 people working here, so to know there’s all these bathrooms and kitchens is awesome – I love it. It makes us all feel like we have space and we’re all really looked after.
“From day one, Tsubi [Canvas’ Mayfair office manager] got us on WhatsApp as the fastest way to communicate rather than email, and there’s been lots of requests from us about deliveries, or electrics and she was super responsive. Because we were doing more than most tenants, we needed things like measurements while our designer was out shopping, so was great to get those on the fly.
“In our previous company, our accountant had to handle everything from rent, rates and utilities, internet and it’s so great to have it all under one price. It’s less admin. You know where you are every month for budgets and projections. And it certainly makes a big difference because we’re a small team.
“In terms of our business and what we need, it’s a practical place. It’s the place I come to day-to day to work. We’re a film production company and so we work with UK and European advertising agencies and clients, making advertising material for TV, cinema and social media platforms. We do all our planning and pre-production here and there’s also a huge storage area which was another major bonus of the office.”
“We will start using the other meeting rooms outside our office more and more, too. Like a lot of things with Canvas, it was a bonus I didn’t expect. Having that spill over when we’re super busy is really useful – to have meetings that otherwise would be a little difficult. We’re thrilled to have it.
At Canvas, we understand it’s vital to be well-connected so businesses can thrive. We asked James if he agreed. “We have a lot of international visitors, half of my directors are coming in from the US and Canada, and when they come in we send drivers to get them and they have an hour’s journey to their hotel in central London, but with the Elizabeth line open now, they’ll be able to come straight to the station and go to the office then on to their hotel which is going to be great.
“Everything about this place has been fantastic. We’re really happy. It’s a place I wanna hang out. I love the light. Canvas has many offices I’m sure, but we got really lucky with the sunlight that comes in, and the brightness of the room downstairs in the sitting room area is beautiful throughout the day. It’s inspiring. I’m a bit solar powered so I like a bit of good light, you know.”
Collaborating on spaces to make their people feel at home at work is what we do. We loved working with James and the Arts & Sciences team to bring their club house vision to life.
If you have enjoyed hearing about James’s experience with Canvas so far, have a browse of our private office space here and see how Canvas could help bespoke your new office.