ORANGE TAPED VASE"The orange tape motif is seen all over our office - it began as an exercise in repurposing found objects. We started first with a chair, and then went mad, taping everything"DOOR"The door is really the most recognisable thing in the office. Occasionally we'll have clients in, and they'll say, 'Wait - you're the guys with the black door?'"DEAR INGO CHANDELIER"The light fitting chandelier is called Dear Ingo, and was designed by Ron Gilad in 2005 for moooi."curtainS"Curtains are another thing we use a lot. Putting them in the office really makes this place feel more like home. Our employees spend a lot of time here; it's important that they feel likethey want to."
- Photography by Mr Christian Kain
- Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER
"There's a door that's solid, in an ethereal wall. It has an evocative quality," says Mr Oliver Michell, the French chief creative officer of UXUS, describing probably the most iconic aspect of the Amsterdam-based design agency's workspace. The entrance to the executive office - a traditional black wooden door set into a glass wall - has featured in UXUS' portfolios, and, according to American creative director Mr George Gottl, has come to symbolise the brand. "A lot of people recognise it," he explains. "It speaks to our design philosophy. We're taking something familiar and making it unfamiliar, and that's something that figures a lot in our work."
UXUS (that's "you multiplied by us") occupies the top floors of an old Art-Nouveau insurance building in the heart of Amsterdam's waterway-woven canal district. Built in 1904 and until recently used as the global headquarters of Greenpeace, number 174 Keizersgracht looms over the neighbouring townhouses by at least a storey, and the view afforded from UXUS' boardroom, located in the building's renovated clock tower, is breathtaking. As Mr Gottl points out the sights - the Anne Frank House just below us; the Westerkerk, Amsterdam's tallest church and burial site of Rembrandt, standing just beyond it; the Keizersgracht canal stretching off into the distance - he emphasises the rarity of such a vantage point. "It's quite a flat city, and the building density is high. Our visitors - especially the Dutch, who appreciate how hard these views are to find - can't believe we have this space."
Orange tape lights
"The orange tape motif is an exercise in repurposing found objects. The lights are from a project called LIGHT_NESS, presented as parts - frame, tape, light - to assemble how you choose."
Mexican witching ball
"This is a Mexican witching ball, received as a gift many years ago. It's a weird object, and quite fragile - God knows what would happen if it broke! The photographs are by our neighbour, Mirja de Vries. She calls them 'sexual flowers'."
"These are by fashion photographer Nick Knight, from his 'Flora' series."
Bottle of wine
"This bottle is part of a brand package that UXUS designed for Buccella Wines. This is the 2007 vintage, set in a bell jar."
Mr Gottl: I was transferred over as creative director of apparel for Nike. I'd never lived in Europe before that, and had not heard much about Amsterdam at all...
Mr Michell: Like George, I had never really imagined moving here, it really wasn't on my map. It was known - for certain reasons! - but I never realised how beautiful a city, or how much of a cultural and creative hub, it is.
Mr Michell: My father is English and my mother is French, and before moving to London I grew up in Hong Kong and in Tokyo, so you could say there's definitely an international flavour to our office.
Mr Gottl: By introducing homely aspects such as the use of curtains, we've striven to make it a comfortable and welcoming environment. People spend a lot of time here - it's important that they feel as if they want to.
Mr Gottl: We contribute to it ourselves, too. My background is in fashion design, and I love clothes.
Mr Michell: I can't say that it was something that was a passion of mine originally, but it's something that I've really grown into. We dress eclectically - whatever we love, we put together. We're quite unusual in that way; people generally dress quite casually in Amsterdam. It's a telling sign when you leave the house in the morning and a neighbour says, "You're looking dressed up, are you going to a wedding?" No - I'm just going to work!