The making of a Virgin space

You will find Virgin spaces all across the world; from health clubs in South Africa, to banks in England and airport club houses in the US. Despite the cultural differences of the countries in which they’re based, as well as the wildly different sectors they operate in, they all manage to retain a very Virgin feel.

To find out how Virgin Mobile UAE went about ensuring their new offices in Dubai fitted the bill we spent some time with Rob Beswick, Group Vice President Brand at Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa.

What considerations went into designing this space?

The aim was to capture the casual and creative vibe of the Virgin Mobile brand and give it a trendy and young look, while not affecting the functionality of the space for its 80-plus staff. Our vision was to create a space that reflects the brand and is fun and ac­commodating for our digital natives. Open and engaging spaces, places to think and reflect, and the use of natural and beautiful materials, were key.

We briefed the designers to create a space where people would feel at home and comfortable, and a place that would inspire creative innovation.

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What's so innovative about this workspace?

Our company is located in the Dubai Design District, which is from the start a very uncommon area for a telco service provider to have their offices in. D3 is known to be the home of many designers along with creatives and innovative industries. Virgin Mobile made a very strong statement from the start by choosing this location for their main office. The true magic happens the moment you step out of the elevator and you are welcome by the Virgin mobile logo and a huge HELLO sign made of light bulbs. This is when you understand that you just stepped in a completely different universe, a fun and urban place where it feels good to work.

The whole space carries the idea of a group of creatives sitting together to work on one common idea, like roommates at university!

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What's different about this space and what makes it stand out?

All our meeting rooms, public spaces, printing stations, lounges, and alterna­tive work spaces have been placed strategically, in a way that allows relaxed intercommunication between team members and our visitors. Our canteen area is basically the backbone of our office as it is a place that brings people together. It is set-up between private micro meeting room, benches for lunch and chats, pool table for some fun time and high benches with bar tables for a more informal seating.

"It’s an open-plan, U-shaped office, which we tried to break into smaller areas with different colour accents and furniture. We took into consideration which departments needed to sit close to each other, and getting this workflow right was a challenge," explains Kaess from Schwitzke & Partner - the architects behind the space.

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How has your workspace changed over time?

As Virgin Mobile is brand new in the UAE market, our very first offices where in a commercial tower with very limited furniture (as you can see, it was rather basic!). They were only a few employees at the very beginning and as time passed, more people came and furniture was added. It was mostly a temporary office, but it was super plain, with barely any decorations, plants nor atmosphere.

Until we made the big move. It was like night and day, black and white. We were going from a monotone, boring office to a place that has it all! The style, the ambiance, the functionality! A place that is the alter ego of Virgin Mobile.

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