Breathing Offices

A Studio Visit with Sevil Peach

Interior architect Sevil Peach designs workplaces with the human perspective at their heart. The evolution of non-territorial office space and the importance of an integrated social matrix form the basis of her internationally recognized work.

“What’s most interesting with each project is the behavior of people. It’s not just about the environment I create, it has to be about the behavior of people as well. If nobody sits on say, the sofa, then it simply won't work.” For Sevil, having a human-centered design approach is intrinsic to all her projects and arguably the key to ensuring each is a success. By involving the human perspective, Sevil grasps the very DNA of a company and its workforce and begins to reimagine a space and its newfound possibilities. Sevil’s ongoing consultancy has also seen her firm design several Vitra showrooms, furniture fairs, and offices throughout Europe.
The Turkey-born interior architect began her own London studio Sevil Peach Architecture + Design back in 1994 in a former nutmeg spice warehouse close to Tower Bridge. Sevil’s overarching philosophy: The workplace should embolden and inspire creativity and productivity. This meant striving for non-territorial, open-plan collaborative spaces created to bring people together to interact positively, removing any ivory tower hierarchy. “In the beginning, nobody really wanted to work non-territorially—most people don’t, you know. They said ‘Oh, why can’t we own a desk?’ Working with people and trying to change a mindset is no easy task. But that’s what it needs, I think.”

By dramatically shifting away from the then popular Taylorist concept of boxed-in, dark cubicles surrounded by executive window-facing offices, Sevil set the tone for flexibility and a freer environment in which to work. At a time when we are able to work from almost any location, Sevil believes the role of the office is even more important.
“Bringing the people into a focal hub encourages cultural identification with the company and enables collaboration. This is now more important than ever,” argues Sevil. “Of course, you can collaborate using technology, but there is actually nothing better than being face to face,” she adds. “A good yardstick is our own intimate 15-people studio. I often question, ‘How can I recreate this intimacy on a huge scale?’ We strive for that.”

This was also the case with her workplace solutions for the Vitra Citizen Office on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein —a space she has designed for not once, but twice, over a span of a decade. One of Vitra’s first briefs to Sevil was to create a ‘Breathing Office’. There’s the clear correlation in the airy, light and open-plan space at Weil am Rhein, with considered, functional elements that structure and modulate the space rather than just acting as aesthetic touches.
There’s the sensitivity given to what Sevil describes as “the architecture of color” but perhaps even more complex is something you can’t quite put your finger on: “We create architectural spaces that care for the people who are going to be occupying them,” says Sevil. “It’s not only supportive but also a space with a spirit. That is the combination of the people and the architecture- you see, they dissolve into each other”
This portrait has been created in cooperation with Freunde von Freunden. You can find a more in-depth look into the work of Sevil Peach Architecture + Design here.

Publication date: 12.10.2017
Author: Andie Cusick
Images: Ana Cuba (London) & Robert Rieger (Weil am Rhein)
Video: Dominik Weischermann