Architecture, coffee, personal trainers and a fantastic hairdresser. It’s little wonder The Hardy Boys switched on screens in their new, repurposed offices in December. Carmen Kelly, one of the creative team behind the new office space, talked to us about her world of space planning, concept, interiors and bringing a brand to life within a built environment.

Who is Carmen Kelly?

Carmen has been in the business of creating incredible spaces for over 12 years and armed with an Interior Design degree, she ran her own studio for several years before joining Disturbance Design in 2010. Disturbance teamed up with The Hardy Boys in 2013. After six years with the agency, she branched out on her own again to form her own company Georgette Black (Pty) Ltd and consults to various clients including, of course, The Hardy Boys. Together with a team of graphic designers and some of the top creative minds in the business, they bring inspired projects to life.

Why the move?

The Hardy Boys occupied 2000 square meters in Riverhorse Valley which has served the agency well over the last ten years, explains Carmen. As most of us know, lifestyles, working habits and business has changed over the decade and so too have the needs of the agency. THB is part of JWT, the oldest agency in the world and JWT is part of WPP the largest communications group in the world.

The new office at Lion Match Office Park is half the space and has an entirely new layout created around interaction and collaboration. This is evident in the absence of any formal offices in the design, with the executive teams desks placed right in the middle of the hub.

“This informal work space creates incidental conversation and a vibrant environment where everyone can communicate and excel.” says Carmen.

The front of office is public space with open plan meeting pods and formal meeting rooms for larger groups. Back of office is the studio which is split into three areas; Verve, THB’s studio and a free thinking zone for trouble shooting and brainstorming. The design ensured that most of the existing furniture would be used, helping to minimise disruption and keep move costs reasonable.

A kitchen and pause area are situated at the back of the office, with large doors spilling out onto a deck encouraging short breaks and a space to digest a long week over the honesty bar.

Why this particular office spot?

Carmen explained how the architecture of the office park grabbed the attention of THB right from the start, and was heightened by the excitement of creating an office design from a blank canvas. “The previous office in Riverhorse was fairly isolated and to get out during the day would be time consuming, so it often didn’t happen.” she added.

The building THB now occupy was formerly a retail showroom and administration office and is located at the main entrance of the office park.

“Aside from the aesthetics, the amenities in and around the park means an improvement in lifestyle for THB’s 80 or so staff members.” Lion Match Office Park has a cafe, hairdresser, medical centre and a gym as well as many other creative and corporate businesses. Station Drive next door, is an added convenience for food and a break away for any office staff who need a change in scenery.

Several of Durban’s top advertising agencies occupy office space within the office park including Whalley Collective, The 13th Floor, Wisdom and Youth and ODA Advertising.

“Different agencies in one park generates a collaboration all if its own”, says Carmen.

In line with the lifestyle improvements behind the move, The Hardy Boys are encouraging staff to car pool, offering incentives to develop better habits. While there is parking available, it’s not necessary to utilise all the bays with almost half of employees being office based. The amenities in the park also means staff don’t have to drive anywhere during the day.

The growing trend towards remote working and freelancing means that offices and parking don’t have to be the size and scope of what they have been previously.

Collaborating on the property front

The term “creative collaboration” is certainly not isolated to the advertising industry. As Carmen pointed out, the team that worked together on RCL FOODS new offices at Westway Office Park was phenomenal, producing an office space which the whole company fell in love with.

“For a property developer to adapt and collaborate with the architects, designers and client the way JT Ross did during the RCL FOODS build and fit-out, was incredible”, said Carmen. “A building was created where it’s occupants can’t wait to get to work every day”.

EPA, Novospace, The Hardy Boys, C􏰀armen,􏰁 JT Ross and RCL FOODS all worked together to bring about the new 12 000 square meter development in 2016.

And finally, the Cow

Anyone who has driven past The Hardy Boys offices in Riverhorse may have noticed a cow standing on the balcony. It may not be a real cow, but it’s very much part of the THB family and has moved along with them to Lion Match Office Park.

I guess you could say THB have their move down pat.