In a year where few companies have dared to undertake a major office expansion, Edit Studios is unveiling a space that eschews the conservative design aesthetic generally associated with wealth management firms in favour of a more modern and welcoming approach.
Located in Vancouver’s iconic Marine Building and designed for BlueArck Private Equity, the space mixes the elegant comfort of French country with the sophistication of a modern Parisian office. This innovative design move is a reflection of BlueArck’s corporate culture and its desire to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment.
The conventional dark woods and leather chesterfields of the typical private equity office have been swapped for a soft grey palette, herringbone floors, and luxurious drapery. The move towards a warmer atmosphere was a deliberate choice designed to address the imbalance between the number of men versus women that the profession usually attracts.
“From my first conversation with BlueArck, it was clear that the founder is committed to a culture of balance, not only between work and life, but also in the composition of his team,” says Janay Koldingnes, founder of Edit Studios. “The space had to reflect this balance. From soft draperies to cozy chairs and reading lamps, we created an environment of comfort and warmth, with all the functionality of the modern workplace.”
The main entrance reveals a reception area that feels more like a living room for family and friends. Likewise, the modern bar is outfitted with all the comforts of home highlighted by book-matched black and white marble with gold accents.
Inspired by the hidden passageways in an old French château, the office’s inner workings are tucked behind hidden doors that are masked by intricate mouldings. Soft draperies provide a way for staff to share spaces that can be easily cordoned off for privacy. Crown moulding and wainscoting accent the walls, while modern furniture pieces, rich marbles and traditional French light fixtures juxtapose old with new.
“Edit Studio’s design perfectly articulates our culture,” says Aleem Ahamed, managing partner at BlueArck Private Equity. “We now have a warm, sophisticated, welcoming space that our team will feel comfortable transitioning back to.”
The process of transforming the space started in March 2020 right as the province went into lockdown, and businesses and governments were scrambling to adapt to the new reality of remote working. Forced to adapt themselves, the Edit Studios team immediately transitioned to working online, and began using FaceTime and other video conferencing tools for meetings with suppliers, contractors, and the client.
Construction partner Etro Construction also began using 3D scanning tools to give the design team project updates without the need for in-person site visits. This not only allowed Edit Studios to follow COVID-19 protocols and keep their employees safe, but also had the benefit of speeding up project timelines and saving money thanks to reduced travel time and greater productivity.
With international supply chains disrupted by the pandemic, Edit Studios moved quickly to find and source replacement products like flooring and glazing from local suppliers.
With city hall closed, the permitting process looked especially daunting. Thankfully, procedural changes made by the City of Vancouver’s Planning Department in response to the pandemic allowed developers and design teams to submit drawings and documentation online for the first time ever. The changes also allowed what were previously in-person meetings to be conducted virtually, saving developers and design teams considerable time and travel costs.
“The City of Vancouver’s move to a digitized planning process enabled us to work more efficiently and get our permits approved in record time despite the challenges posed by COVID-19,” says Koldingnes. “This is a great first step and it is our hope that the city will continue to digitize all aspects of the permitting process. As it stands, physical copies are still required to be stamped, sealed and sent to city hall. Other cities like Toronto and Edmonton have already eliminated this, and we hope that Vancouver will also move in this direction.”
Photos: Ema Peter Photography