Kering HQ - Pilot Space
From the smallest of actions stems the greatest change.
Brief and project goals
The setting chosen for Kering’s second project with Unispace is their existing headquarters at 40 rue de Sèvres in Paris. A listed (or bâtiment classé in French) building steeped in history and oozing with parisian charm in the seventh arrondissement of Paris south of the Seine. The site is surrounded by landmarks such as the Luxembourg gardens to the east, Montparnasse to the south and les Invalides to the west.
Following the global Covid-19 pandemic, Kering wanted to review its working practices and engaged Unispace to trial new ways of working within designated trial areas of their historic headquarters in the French capital. At a crossroads in its almost 60-year journey, Kering was experiencing unprecedented growth.
This project – a Pilot space - would set the stage for trialing new ways of working within a well-established, largely traditional (from an approach to work perspective) organisation. With a relatively compact floor plan, measuring 753 sqm, of an L-shape configuration the space would house 62 of Kering’s employees and provide the designers at Unispace with the challenge of creating an innovative, contemporary and diverse space.
Measures of success would include the establishment of a strong sense of brand and belonging, a diversity of space typologies that lured team members back to the workplace post-Covid lockdown, talent retention and respect for both the building in which the space is housed, a well as the many wellknown brands who call Kering home.
Kering’s building is an historic, former hospital that is furnished with its very own, on-site chapel. Far more than bricks and mortar, the listed, historic monument boasts an array of heritage features ranging from elegant original windows, decorative internal mouldings and a sleek parquet timber floor. Not to mention the heritage value of all the aforementioned as a standing tribute to Parisian past.
Further complexity arose due to the L-shaped configuration of the floorplan. A compact space of long and narrow corridors that do not naturally lend themselves to the adoption of contemporary workspace typologies
demanded a thoughtful and experienced design approach. An important part of the design process would be to ensure that the final design maximised the use of the whole floor plan. No space was to be left behind.
Thanks to the success of a previous collaboration, the design team at Unispace in Paris had already developed an understanding of the aesthetic that this project would require. A design that would reflect the identity not only of Kering itself, but the many brands, each individually identifiable in their own right, housed under the parent company. As such, the resulting design is an elegant one that respects the heritage value of the building, harmonising the past with the present. That which has been created is a contemporary, chic and collaborative atmosphere, all of which has been creatively crafted to provide Kering with a competitive edge as they witness a period of extended business growth carry on into the future.
Particular attention was paid to the creation of a space with high acoustic properties, given that as an HR floor where recruitment is the primary business of the day, confidentiality was high on the list of deliverables for this project. To this end, specialist sub-contractors were engaged to bolster the knowledge and experience of our own team members, ensuring that the client was provided with the very best in terms of acoustic standards and quality.
Our approach on-site is one in which a respect for the environment (both ecological and architectural) is prioritised. Every opportunity to minimise waste and maximise energy efficiencies were taken to provide as green a service and as green a space as possible. To this end, the furnishings and acoustic materials include high percentages of recycled components, while all lighting throughout the space is LED to minimise energy requirements and heat output.
Realisation of the space was a four-month process, consisting of two, two-month phases, during which time the building remained fully occupied. Meticulous planning and a precision approach were of considerable importance to minimise disruption, protect the listed fabric of the building and deliver Kering with a quality, fully functioning space on time and within budget.
The building itself was a hefty consideration, for which considerable planning needed to be undertaken. As an historic building, floors and ceilings were far from level, angles far from accommodating and space at a premium. The scope for demolition was limited and structural features, which have been incorporated into the design, required respect and protection. The central Paris location of the building also meant that demolition, as well as deliveries, were restricted to out-of-hours periods, lengthening the overall amount of time on site for Unispace delivery teams.
Since the project’s completion, Kering project stakeholders have expressed delight with the design and realisation of the space. Time will provide the true test against which the initiative’s success will be measured as new habits and approaches are trialled and tested.