The Disegno office redesign by Felix de Pass


7 November 2013

“It’s a space that a lot of people will visit,” says designer Felix de Pass of the new Disegno offices on Kingsland Road in east London. “So I wanted to give the office a street presence so it could also be used for other things, such as a pop-up shop or events.”

The cork board from Portuguese company Amorim has the magazine flat plan etched onto it

Throughout the office there is an attention to detail, from the sliding Kvadrat textile panels that hide the contents of the sideboard (“doors would take up too much room”), to an Amorim cork flat plan at the end wall of the space. “We talked about the cork flat plan being a key focal point in the office,” says de Pass.

“It’s like a mission control for the whole publishing operation, as pinning up printed thumbnails of lay-outs keeps the team informed of where you’re at in the process of making the magazine. It amazed me that despite all the possibilities that technology affords us, you can’t beat putting things up in reality, the physicality of this is fascinating. It’s not unlike the models and mock-ups I made of this project.” De Pass’ cork board replaced the foam-board flat plans previously used in the office, with the outline of pages and page numbers etched onto its surface.

The mushroom-shaped coat hooks are made using a wood lathe

The final touch to the space are round wooden coat hooks, which de Pass shaped using a lathe. They are made up from two discs that sit on the wall, the smaller acting as a hook for a clothes hanger, the larger as a resting place for coats. “In fact, I still have to put more coat hooks up,” says de Pass. “It’s going to be needed with winter approaching.”

When the space was inaugurated during the London Design Festival in September the opening party brought close to 200 people through its narrow black door, where cut-out white vinyl reads “283. Tack Press. Disegno. Jocks&Nerds.” The redesign not only spells a new chapter for Disegno, but also announces the bringing together of two previously independent magazines under the banner of newly-founded publishing house Tack Press.

British designer Felix de Pass created the interior design of the space, using HeartOak from the Danish flooring company Dinesen. “I knew that we were working with a high-quality wood and that I wouldn’t have to do too much to the form, so the real challenge was to keep things as simple as possible,” says de Pass. “I approached the project from a furniture and product design point of view, reflecting my background in this field.”

The bookcase is made up of three horizontal planes and upright supports that seem to disappear when books are placed on it

The main feature of the space is a 5m long desk, designed using full-length oak planks. Four chevron-shaped table bases show the flexibility with which the material is used. “It’s a simple and direct self-supporting construction method, which remains visible and easy to read. It struck me as the right and appropriate design language for this space,” says de Pass.

The same method was used for the desk dividers, which also function as two-way file-holders. Designed by de Pass and made from powder-coated sheet-metal, they are folded like paper, yet their form betrays their weight.

Working alongside drawers attached to the underside of the tabletop, the two-way desk dividers efficiently organise seating around the large desk. “They don’t dictate where you have to sit, but they do suggest personal space,” says de Pass. The team, which varies depending on the publishing cycles of the magazines, ranges from 6 to 12. The maximum number of people that can fit around the desk is 14.

The two-way desk dividers are made from folded and powder-coated sheet metal

Suspended above the table is a Sempé w103 light by Inga Sempé for Wästberg. The lighting has six lampshades in various colours, adding a warmth and focus to a space otherwise marked by a neutral colour palette.

Dinesen HeartOak runs throughout the office and has been cut into a large-scale herringbone parquet for the flooring, which was laid by Roger Hyde. “I have a love for the traditional herringbone pattern,” says de Pass. “And that was the concept for the flooring, using these half metre-wide planks and playing with the traditional herringbone pattern, but on a big scale.” Each plank in the design measures 500mm wide and 1500mm long.

“It was a total blessing to work with this high quality material, but I was also aware that I didn’t want to make this place feel like a sauna,” says de Pass. All of the space’s furniture is executed in oak, custom-designed and built by de Pass in collaboration with furniture maker Robert Culverhouse. A 6m long sideboard runs alongside one wall, above which sits a wall-mounted bookshelf made up from three horizontal planes and two upright supports. When books are placed on the shelf the supports blend in to resemble book spines.

The small meeting table has a CNC-milled table top in HeartOak and aluminium legs from Very Good and Proper

An oval table at one end of the room is designed as a break-out space for more private meetings. Its table top is CNC-milled, while the die-cast aluminium legs are from the London-based design brand Very Good and Proper. The custom-made stools that go with it recall the design language of the bookshelf and the table.

“The stools are the result of developing the idea together with Robert [Culverhouse],” says de Pass. “Originally I thought it needed a support but after testing it we realised that if you made the finger joint very accurate it would be strong enough to support itself.” The stool is a simple silhouette of three planes, with a handle in the middle of the seat.