With working cultures and practices in a state of transition and flux, as businesses around the world adjust to a post-pandemic landscape, one company has taken a particularly inventive approach. In need of a workspace and meeting venue in central Stockholm, Swedish digital tech consultancy Samsen is opening – not an office – but a wine bar, and Note Design Studio have been charged with creating the perfect interior.
As a specialist tech consultancy working with the likes of Klarna, Spotify and Nespresso, Samsen normally despatches employees to work in its clients’ offices – something that Covid-19 made impossible. They had been planning a home of their own long before the pandemic struck, with a vision of an office shaped by long-standing workplace trends that embrace flexibility and employee satisfaction. It became clear that, although the company didn’t need anything like a conventional corporate office, it did need a shared space that the team could come to whenever they needed, to use however they liked – whether as a space to work, hang out, or spend time with family and friends. Not just a practical resource, but an employee perk. With the founders of Samsen sharing a passion for wine and a determination that their space should look nothing like the traditional office, a wine bar seemed the perfect option.
The wine-bar workspace – dubbed the Samsen Atelier – is in keeping with the young company’s fundamental philosophy: the belief that work should be built on the personal life of the individual, not the other way around. The Samsen team are free to design their work around their needs and passions, choosing how, when and where they work, and with which clients.
For Samsen's new HQ, which occupies what used to be a jewellery boutique in Odenplan, Stockholm, Note set out to create a warm, welcoming contemporary space that was pleasant and practical to work, dine, drink and socialise in. A design that is equally suited to use in both day and night, it also needed to accommodate a large number of people in a relatively small space, with a wide variety of possible seating set-ups depending on what was required from it.
The need to balance function and atmosphere was the driving force behind Note’s design process. The team took inspiration from the small bars and cafés found in Japan – spaces that often seem tiny, but have a surprising capacity to hold a large number of people thanks to clever seating arrangements.
The space is made up of two connected rooms – one houses a large communal table that can be used for dining or collaborative work; the other holds a bar lined with stools, a trio of café tables, and bespoke upholstered benches beneath two large windows. This set-up allows for multiple seating arrangements to be employed simultaneously – from group gatherings to one-to-one chats and working in isolation – and ensures the atmosphere is vibrant and bustling even when relatively few people are on site.
Taking the dark-wood look of Japanese bars and restaurants as a starting point, Note developed a palette that balanced warm and cool colours and materials, combining traditional stained soft wood with harder, more modern accents of concrete and steel. The wooden cabinets on the walls are a direct reference to Japanese interiors, as is the half-length curtain that divides the two rooms. Another curtain separates the kitchen area, which houses brushed metal units from Reform that contrast with the golden woody warmth of the yellow-brown palette elsewhere.
Built from chunky slabs of limestone, the bespoke bar backs a tall wine fridge also designed by Note. The space houses a number of other Note designs created especially for Samsen, including a statement yellow shelving unit on the wall, the integrated window benches, and the large yellow communal table, which is surrounded by black chairs from the Candid collection that the studio designed for Zilio A&C. Above the table, Rich Brilliant Willing’s Palindrome lamp in bent tubular steel adds a sculptural element. In the adjoining space, the bar stools, café chairs and tables have been sourced from Mattiazzi.
Photography by Joakim Johansson
Referencing Japanese dining, with a dark-wood aesthetic and clever use of small space, this warm, welcoming space is not only inspired by the founder’s passion for wine, but their recognition that the workplace needs to change – to be a place that employees want to spend time in, which is flexible enough to welcome clients, industry peers and friends also.
The Samsen Atelier reflects everything that Note excels at when it comes to interiors, from the enticing use of colour and materiality to an appreciation of the role that mood and atmosphere play in the workplace.