At first glance, when entering the renewed reception and entertainment facilities of United Bankers, you realise what this space is all about: clients’ confidential financial matters are being negotiated and the changing trends of the world figured out.
How does one create a space with an air of prestige?
This was one of the questions Fyra’s Jasmin Friman pondered when Fyra began designing United Bankers’ new reception and event spaces. United Bankers, situated on Aleksanterinkatu, in central Helsinki, is one of the most venerated financial management companies in Scandinavia. The company is located opposite the Stockmann department store in a historic building from the end of the 19th century. It comes as no surprise that one of the main objectives was to have the interior reflect and compliment the quality brand of United Bankers as well as the heritage architecture.
Too ”pompous” was something that needed to be avoided, as United Bankers’ John Ojanperä put it. In fact, this needed to be a contemporary space that emanates the present: one of the requirements of a successful financial management company is to comprehend the ever-changing world. Since the world keeps changing, the premises need to be able to change, too. Flexibility was the other requirement set for the new interior.
United Bankers used to have both working facilities and meeting rooms situated on two floors.
Now the company wanted the facilities to be clearly distinguishable which lead to allocating the event venue its own floor.
”It was a radical change. Walls were torn down creating a more open space”, Friman says.
When you enter the premises you feel the welcoming atmosphere immediately and get a sense of finding your way: the reception area was placed in the middle with the meeting rooms visible in the background.
The walls are mobile partitions made from elegant wood veneer. When pulled aside, the space becomes an event room for 50 people and can be used for entertaining clients or for results’ announcements and other staff occasions.
By moving the walls also smaller meeting rooms can be created. The partitions provide good sound absorption.
“We deal with clients’ confidential matters”, Ojanperä says.
For the same reason visual privacy is taken into special consideration. The glass walls in the meeting rooms allow light to travel. Airy and light curtains can be drawn to provide privacy for the clients in the meeting rooms.
Fyra approached creating a prestigious feel as one does with any luxury product: with the best materials possible and meticulous attention to details. And, of course, using finishing touches that would pass even the most scrupulous inspection by the design police.
Marble, brass and dark wood were chosen for the space. The colour scheme is neutral with a Scandinavian feel: large light grey floor tiles and meeting room carpets that echo the same tone.
The colour black was chosen for some of the walls and wood veneer for the mobile partitions.
Cognac leather is featured prominently in the meeting room furniture. Every skirting board and seam, every detail is executed with utmost care. The general atmosphere is peaceful and sophisticated – it inspires and conveys trust.
A successful project is a result of seamless, close cooperation between Fyra, the client and the subcontractor, for example, a fixtures and fittings contractor.
“Having a great plan is not enough. The execution, too, needs to be flawless”, states Friman.
United Bankers’ John Ojanperä is pleased with Fyra.
“The people at Fyra were always available and able to react to even the quickest of demands and deadlines. They are both professional as well as flexible.”
Fyra’s Friman emphasises the fact that good design begins with listening to the client.
“It’s not enough to have a beautiful space. It has to be functional and respond to every need of the client. For me, that’s the end-all and be-all”, Friman says.
United Bankers’ John Ojanperä could not be happier with the outcome.
“It truly became a great space”, he says. “We get lots of positive feedback from our clients as well.”
Photographer: Sampsa Pärnänen