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The Formica Insulation Co. was formed in 1913. In 1927, the company began printing decorative images onto their sheets of laminate, introducing a new product that would cement Formica’s presence in the interior design field. By 1930, Formica Group became an interior design company producing HPL laminate furniture products and countertops.

Formica’s global presence continued to grow, with the establishment of over 20 offices around the world. The Formica European HQ opened in 1947, and in a push to embrace the long history of their first build, Formica UK decided to move their commercial team back to the original site to join the production team.

The Project

Paul Foreman, Chief Operating Officer of Formica Group Europe, said, “The move back to the North Shields site was more than just an office refurbishment. We have had hundreds of employees walk through the doors, so it holds a very special place in our history”.

Formica employed the services of Contents Design to create and oversee the project. An interior Architecture and Design practice that works across the UK, Contents Design was formed in 2012 by Nigel Scorer. Nigel’s interior designs have won several awards and been featured on the BBC’s Education Season. Contents Design have proven to be pioneers in the interior design world, living by their company mission: To delight and inspire people through great design.

The retrofit was designed to create space and promote collaboration throughout the old building. A clear line of sight, from one end of the building to the other, encourages a cohesive and unified environment.

“to celebrate the industrial heritage, they decided to strip back the existing building to expose its original features, such as the riveted steelwork, steel soffit and brick walls. This meant that an alternative acoustic approach to a standard lay in grid ceiling was required to ensure background noise from the factory and the commercial workplace was at a controlled level”, Scorer said.

To successfully merge authentic industrial design and two adverse working environments, Contents contacted Autex Industries for a bespoke interior acoustic solution.

The Solution

“we knew Autex have a wide range of products which can be used on walls and ceilings, and each product provides strong acoustic performance whilst looking great. Acoustic ceiling baffles were used more discreetly, whereas 3D Tiles created prominent feature walls in each meeting space. In Autex, we found a one-stop shop”, Nigel said.

Ceiling baffles made from Autex 24mm Cube™ acoustic panels, were used to absorb and control noise in areas with high traffic levels. The primary function of the Cube baffles was to stifle the buildup noise in these busy zones without compromising the industrial feel of the space.

Describing the use of Quietspace® 3D Tiles, Scorer said, “Each space has a slightly different combination of the tiles in various shades of light grey. When viewed alongside the full height glazed partitions, Formica artwork panels and old exposed masonry walls, the tiles bring a tactile sculptural element to the industrial interior scheme”.

The Result

The reception feature wall with the Formica Anvil pattern required acute detailing to mirror the branding. Cube acoustic panels were used to create a branded wall, becoming the focal point of the entire project. Autex were able to construct a complex logo design using the in-house water cutting process, allowing the sharp points and distinct curves of the logo to be transferred to Cube panels seamlessly.

Scorer goes on to say, “We found Autex to be very forward thinking and they were positively engaged with us during the design process, always looking for solutions and not getting caught up with problems”.

Dan Black, Autex’s UK Sales Director, said “this was a great project to be involved in, it used our standard off-the-shelf offerings in our 3D Tile range contrasted with customised, intricate, watercut design work that is unique to the customer.  We love being part of the projects that push the boundaries, take acoustics seriously and make spaces a pleasure to look at”.

THE architect

Contents Design

Contents Design is an Interior Architecture and Design practice that works across the UK creating environments in which to live, learn, work and play. Contents Design solutions have a positive impact on people’s lives, not only meeting the requirements of the brief but exceeding the aspirations of the user.