The new offices of RIST Hellas, official importer of brand-name watches and jewelry in Greece, were designed by T&T Architects. They occupy an entire floor of an old tobacco factory in Thessaloniki, and include offices, a separate accounting/inventory office, storage room and a small showroom. The features and limitations of the space – low headroom, considerable depth, and massive mushroom-head columns – shaped the architectural vision. The depth allowed the architects to place most workstations and the break room parallel to the external wall of the building, thus providing them with direct natural light and window ventilation. The accounting office, the storage room to which it is directly connected, the showroom and the meeting room are lit indirectly through large panes of glass, which also serve to define the boundaries of the different rooms.
The ample reception/waiting area offers a direct visual link to the showroom. A secondary entrance leads to the storage room via the accounting and inventory offices, which in turn is internally connected with all other spaces on the premises. They decided to avoid further lowering the ceiling. Instead, they played with the visual element of the mushroom-head columns, leaving some of them exposed and concealing others. The design team set up and designed heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on the same principle: for some they used an identical color to that of the ceiling in order to make them ‘disappear’, while others were highlighted by painting them with a contrasting color. They applied the colors of the company logo, white and black, on the ceiling, floor, columns and many of the walls. These provide background for dark blue and purple, a lighter blue, and vivid reddish and yellow – colors we used for selected places and objects in order to demarcate different areas. In choosing the color scheme, the intention was that the waiting room, showroom, conference room and executive office should be darker and more evocative, while workstations and the break room should be bright, sunny and cheerful.
Reflecting the company’s business, they designed a large watch face on the reception area floor as a unifying element, whose hands point to the small waiting room. They also scattered watch hands elsewhere in the premises to indicate routes and various functions. The two main hands are also mirrored on the ceiling by the arrow-shaped lighting fixtures.
Photos © Stratos Kalafatis, Studiotessera Photography