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Sat 14 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Limitless appeal

L’Oreal Middle East was forced to combine practical considerations with the sustainability demands of its new landlord when it recently moved to new office premises in Jebel Ali.

L’Oreal Middle East was forced to combine practical considerations with the sustainability demands of its new landlord when it recently moved to new office premises in Jebel Ali.

International beauty pioneer, L'Oreal, first established a Middle East presence in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1998. Subsequent success, and the need to expand, recently saw the company move to new premises in the Limitless Buildings, Jebel Ali.

Covering approximately 26,375ft², running over two floors, the area was envisaged as an open-plan office, complemented by sufficient meeting space, a corporate reception area and a coffee bar.

"Ultimately, we wanted an open-plan office, to give the feeling of space to our employees. This meant deciding on lighting and efficient storage solutions, and ensuring that there were places for employees to relax, as well as hold meetings in a pleasant environment," said Anthony Ponsford, managing director, L'Oreal Middle East.

"In order to do this, we formed a working committee that worked on the design and fit-out of the office, ensuring that the ideas and opinions of all members of staff were taken into consideration while choosing furniture and colour schemes and so on. It made sure that everyone felt involved in the design process, and ultimately created an office that everyone was happy with," Ponsford continued.

The aim was to reflect the values of L'Oreal within the interiors. Drawing on feelings of calmness and wellbeing, L'Oreal opted for a wide open space, while the use of subtle colours also promoted a sense of cleanliness.

"We chose soft materials, without aggressive colours. We played with a palette of white, off-white and grey throughout the office. We chose large visuals that represented our brands and our expertise, to define the divisions of the company within the floor space," said Ponsford.

"All of our furniture was supplied to us by Senator Furniture. We chose Senator desk systems that are fitted into the design layout of the floor space, providing a maximum working area whilst also creating a feeling of space. Senator is a company that has sustainability at the top of its priorities, practising many ways of reducing, reusing and recycling," he continued.The concepts of sustainability and greener living were not only important to the team at L'Oreal, but a requirement of the landlord, Limitless. For example, choice of lighting, a key tool in creating the correct atmosphere in any office, was something that was determined by the landlord.

"The design guidelines were the same for all four of the Limitless buildings. High-end 60x60 lighting and their fittings disperse the light over a broader area than standard fittings, allowing no room for shadow lines or blind spots," Ponsford highlighted.

"The light that is dispersed is naturally white in colour. Once the design and layout of the office space had been confirmed, the lighting supplier came and did its own survey to recommend where the lights should be installed, and this made the system more efficient."

"Energy timing sensors can also be installed to save energy. At the moment, together with the clean, white fit-out, we are finding that the lights are not used at all during the day, only when it starts to get dark in the evening," he added.

While light fittings were designed to reduce electrical output, this was not the only aspect of the design that had to be eco-conscious - and creating the most practical space possible within the environmentally-friendly guidelines and restrictions set out by the landlord posed a real challenge for L'Oreal, Ponsonby noted.

"Instead of using natural marble we used reconstituted marble. We also used semi parquet flooring from Austria instead of solid parquet flooring, and a percentage of the carpets, sourced from Japan, were recycled," he said.

"We also limited the use of chrome furniture within the office. When we were asked if chrome options could be used as they created a nicer look, the sustainability of the office took priority in our minds and we had to refuse certain requests. But the reasons for many of our choices were understood once we justified our reasons why," he concluded.

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