HEARTLAND NOSTA LG I A
GOVT’s new office is where old- school icons meet new- age workspaces.
GOVT’s new office is where old-school icons meet new-age workspaces.
GOVT is an award- winning independent creative agency whose clients include notable names such as Netflix, Nescafe and OCBC Bank. It believes in trying to do “advertising that does not feel like regular, wallpaper- like advertising”. True to its manifesto, GOVT’s new 4,300sqf office located in Tan Boon Liat Building at Outram Road is a far cr y from the regular, corporate- like workplace.
GOVT’s brief to design director Bu Shukun and associate designer Jayelle Choo, from Architology Interiors, was to create a workspace for 30 staff members and also allow for expansion to cater to an additional 30 more.
“The client emphasised that the new workspace will be a critical step- up from its current, more informal setup into a full- scale agency, and it will have to accommodate its rapid headcount growth,” elaborates Shukun.
The home- grown agency is proud of its Singapore identity and wanted an office designed around its dynamic team, whom it considers its prized asset. It is conceived as a new home that will ignite every team member’s creative passion, nurture their growth and development, as well as celebrate their diversity. This was how the concept of an “Urban Kampung” came about, enabling GOVT’s organic growth into a positive, interactive community.
Even though the directors of GOVT used to be from international agencies, they never forgot their Singapore roots, which they refer to as their “special sauce”. There was a yearning to bring back the good old days and revive the “kampung spirit”, and the extensive collection of vintage knick- knacks that they had amassed over the years provided the perfect catalyst.
The challenge for Shukun and Jayelle was to rethink and relook these ubiquitous objects and materials, and reinterpret them to fit into a modern office context. Retro elements such as a barber’s chair, the pawnshop institution from yesteryear and old- fashioned cinema memorabilia are given tonguein- cheek twists to inject new life into the old kampung – thereby creating an “urban kampung”.
In keeping with kampung culture, where nondescript objects can be repurposed with a bit of ingenuity, “it was also about exploring what we could come up with by fixing simple, everyday objects with a standard light bulb,” says Jayelle. “For instance, we inserted a LED light inside a hollow water pipe, which was then suspended like a bamboo pole for hanging clothes,” she adds.
“Unlike other office projects we’ve done, we had to do a lot of sourcing in this case, in order to find certain items to achieve a specific look,” shares Jayelle. But this was undeniably part of the fun, fuelled by a collective vision shared by both client and designer, which is to put together the best space for everyone.
“With clients in the creative industry, setting common goals and aspirations is usually the easy part. The challenge was to evaluate each idea objectively and ensure that everyone was on the same page,” Shukun reveals. “Ultimately, the satisfaction comes from seeing people enjoying the spaces, just like how we envisioned them to be.”
1, 2 & 6 The office foyer celebrates the people behind the company – with their portraits on movie posters! Old cinema chairs create a waiting area that also showcases their awards and achievements. The pawnshop front houses the finance department.
5 Nicknamed the cockfight cage, this is where creatives fight it out. GOVT’s cinematic entrance allows visitors a candid first glance at the agency and its people. 57
3 The retro-looking floor tiles of the building pave the way to GOVT’s office with a similar theme.
4 The office has a strong culture of dining together and enjoying post-work drinks. What better place than around an XXXL mosaic table similar to those found in HDB void decks?
7 This caricature by Edison Teo, a friend of the directors, depicts a GOVTstyled “garang” Merlion. Aptly drawn around an oldschool canteen tap and sink, it comes alive as a fearless Merlion spouting water.
8 A small corner room meant for private calls and discussions has been exaggerated into a jail cell, drawing on the imagery of extreme isolation with an interrogation session on the barber chair.
9 The HDB void deck is used as a design metaphor to invoke a sense of community.
10 Account managers are lined up along a street with double yellow lines and markings. Each workstation is equipped with its own pin board and light fixture.
11 Many of the old school relics are from the directors’ own collections. This lion-head door handle at the main entrance was sourced from Junkie’s Corner.
12 The hawker stall setup in the pantry allows various snacks to be displayed, enticing staff to feed their bodies as they work their minds.