Spirit of Work

Sevil Peach in conversation with Jane Withers

July, 2021

Sevil Peach’s practice is known for creating human workplaces that put the needs of those who work there first. Here Jane Withers talks to Sevil about the new design for Kvadrat’s headquarters and the designer’s role as a 'thoughtful host'.

Photography by Philipp Thonet

Jane Withers: You recently refurbished the Kvadrat headquarters in Ebeltoft. Can you tell us about the project and its aims?

Sevil Peach: We were specifiers and admirers of Kvadrat long before becoming involved with the refurbishment of their Ebeltoft headquarters. Their people, products, communications, sponsorships reflected a deep-seated culture and the ambition of a world-class company. But when we visited Ebeltoft there was a disconnect. None of this was on view. Only when we were invited to lunch in the canteen did we experience the company’s familial energy, their hospitality, and the delicious home-made food.

Our approach was to unlock the potential of the building, the spirit of the company and the people. We wanted visitors to be welcomed to Kvadrat’s home with the smell of coffee and the wood smoke from the fireplace laid out with cosy rugs and sofas and with spectacular views reaching out to the coastal landscape. The design team have moved from cellular offices to an open-plan studio with views to the landscape. Small see-through meeting rooms create a visual link to the warehouse and the rolls and rolls of finished product. In the end, I think the new office has created an environment that energises the company.

Drawings and designs ©SevilPeach Architecture + Design
Peach integrates Kvadrat textiles throughout the new HQ, turning it into a working case-study for the company and making textiles the ‘hero’ of the project.

Photography by Gilbert McCarragher
Visitors arriving at Kvadrat’s office are welcomed by the smell of coffee and wood smoke in a reception area that feels like home.

JW: I read that you have described ‘spirit’ as important a quality of the workplace as function – can you enlarge on this? How do you go about creating this? What role does design play?

SP: People say to us that they love working in the offices that we have designed. When I ask them why they frequently respond 'it has a good spirit' but cannot explain exactly why. I think it is because we work to identify the potential of the 'host' space. We care for every detail from the rubbish bins to a good cup of coffee. We strive to make it appear effortless, so that the design flows and dissolves into the background, making the new space appear as if it has always been there. We want people to walk into their new office on day one and to feel at home. It’s about putting the reins on one’s own ego and personal design ambitions or fantasies, and making sure that it primarily becomes the people's journey.

Photography by Gilbert McCarragher
Bringing the landscape into the office spaces ensures a valuable connection to nature, daylight and seasonal change within the building.

Drawings and designs ©SevilPeach Architecture + Design
The Dining Room and the Library are the heart of the building, creating space for collaboration around large tables and foregrounding the ‘soft work’ component that will be so important in post-pandemic office design.

JW: There is an increased focus on materials from a health and hygiene perspective, but also regarding feel, tactility, touch and comfort – how is this considered in your work and where do you see this going?

SP: We always encouraged our clients to allow us to work with natural materials, and with furniture that is timeless and has longevity, rather than responding to fashionable trends, which is part of achieving ecological solutions.

Photography by Gilbert McCarragher

Drawings and designs ©SevilPeach Architecture + Design
Curtains are used throughout as temporary dividers, to soften large open spaces and for acoustic properties. 

JW: I am interested to understand whether there are aspects of your Turkish heritage and culture that you feel influence your work?

SP: Turkish culture is very people-focused: friendly, sociable, and very hospitable. This aspect is for sure an active influence in our daily lives, our studio culture and our work. Hosting is a serious business in our home and office. As Charles Eames said, ‘The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host, anticipating the needs of his guests.’

Drawings and designs ©SevilPeach Architecture + Design
Peach turned the former fabric warehouse into a showroom. The entrance is framed by a curtain wall rising to 7 metres, a dramatic example of making textiles the ‘hero’ of the project.

Photography by Gilbert McCarragher
Transparent meeting rooms frame dramatic views into the showroom, creating a strong visual connection to Kvadrat’s products.