Cool the Temperature; Commercial: Nicola Horlick Wanted a Different Design Style from the City for Her New Office Suite near Harrods. Fay Sweet Takes a Look

Article excerpt


FINANCIER Nicola Horlick requested the architects designing her new Knightsbridge office to "break the mould of the typical corporate fit-out".

The results are refreshingly unstuffy, light, modern and even a little quirky.

"I'm extremely decisive," says Horlick. "I don't like representational art, wallpaper or pattern. I do like blocks of colour and wanted the office to be modern, while also being restrained and professional. When you are dealing with pension funds and charities, it is good to be interesting and different, but not excessive."

The company, Bramdean Asset Management, opened its doors at the beginning of the year and occupies 5,000sq ft in a new-build development opposite Harrods.

Until recently it was unusual for this sort of company to be found in west London. "The fund management community has gone west because everyone lives here," says Horlick, who recently bolstered her superwoman title when she fought off armed attackers outside her South Kensington family home.

The superwoman tag was bestowed on her when she hit the headlines in the late 1990s. Juggling an impressive career and family life with five children, Horlick became embroiled in a highprofile row with her employer, Morgan Grenfell, which accused her of attempting to defect to a rival, taking staff and clients with her.

In her new office, as soon as the lift doors open, clients visiting Bramdean (named after the Hamsphire village where Horlick has a home) are left in no doubt that this space is different from the City norm. The floor is finished with sparkling marble chips set in clear resin, a long reception desk is wrapped in chestnut-brown leather, there is fashionable B&B Italia furniture and the company name is emblazoned on a screen made from shimmering fabric laminated between huge glass panels. This could be the home of a fashion empire or smart publisher. The only hint of the City is in the Financial Times-pink wall opposite the reception desk.

"We wanted to give the space a softness without being overtly feminine," says Julian de Metz, of architecture practice de Metz Forbes Knight (dMFK). …


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