Smart Pension
17 April, 2024
Designing a brand and wellness-driven long-term home for Smart Pension
Following meteoric success, the pensions and retirement technology company worked with Maris to create a six-floor global HQ in London.

The challenge              

To design a workspace that brings a large and growing team together across six floors, supporting wellbeing and embedding the office experience in brand and wellbeing.

The solution            

Using the brand colours to create a natural pathway through the space, we created an agile office that points towards a spectacular, top floor breakout area with a wraparound terrace.

The result            

A vibrant but professional permanent home for the dynamic team, offering different spaces for people to move around, grow and come together.

Smart Pension is a pensions and retirement technology business which has seen meteoric growth since it was founded in 2014. Bringing financial and technological expertise together, they make pension auto enrolment simple, an appealing concept which consequently found themselves in need of a working environment befitting their forward-thinking mindset and evolving team.

In context, they created more than 200 jobs during the pandemic and saw 160% growth in assets under management in 2020. As a result, in 2021 they signed a 15-year lease for a London based, six-floor global HQ, relocating from their previous offices in Paddington. The space was in one of the first all-electric office buildings in the West End, making them carbon zero from day one, and their vision was to create an inviting, dynamic environment for their 340-strong London-based team.

Smart Pension

A workspace designed for growth

In preparation for their move into the new space, we worked with Smart Pension to design the office interior. Their focus was on creating an environment that reflected their youthful energy as well as their professionalism, maximising the working environment but also providing dedicated, welcoming, hospitality-style space to bring people together.

Crucially, they wanted the best space (the top floor with lots of natural light, impressive views, and a wraparound terrace) to be preserved for everybody’s use, and to encourage interaction between the vast team. In many ways, this became the anchor in the design, creating both a stylistic narrative, a clear cultural language and inspiring considered pathways through the space. 

A sustainable space

The six-storey building is WiredScore ‘Gold’ Certified, targeting BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and WELL ready status, so from day one it had inherent sustainability credentials. These were compounded by interior efforts including our always-present use of sustainability approved suppliers, design for disassembly, and the use of organic materials including wood cladding as well as plant life throughout, not least on a vast living wall.

Smart Pension co-founders, Andrew Evans and Will Wynne said: “Sustainability is hugely important to us, our colleagues’ working lives are hugely important to us, and it’s for these reasons we’ve chosen to commit to this state of the art, all renewable electric building and we know it’s a place our teams across the globe will be proud of.”

Smart Pension

Bringing people together across a large building

Arguably the biggest challenge was bringing people together across a large building and creating a community across six floors. After entering the reception, where guests are greeted by an avatar in lieu of a receptionist, the first floor was dedicated to meeting suites, while the following four floors were open plan spaces for teams to work in.

Each floor had its own tea point close to a central staircase, creating conviviality and a meeting spot as soon as you land, but it all points up towards the main breakout space on the top floor.

A brand blue ‘ribbon’ runs throughout the office, embedded into the floor and the ceiling as well as being anchored in select furnishings. This guides the line of sight and the natural journey through the building, across floors and up to the top floor. 

The top floor is an area that’s all about team wellbeing, bringing people together, providing lots of different areas to socialise in. It’s where people are encouraged to have lunch and refreshments, as well as providing the perfect for large team gatherings, and events. 

Smart Pension

A dynamic use of space

While space was in ample supply, the team is also vast and growing, so maximising its use was imperative. Taking inspiration from tech leaders like TikTok, teams work in scrums to encourage them to self-organise and work together towards common goals.

This mindset informed the design of the working environments, which are open plan and designed for agile working, featuring pods of dedicated workspace but with a moveable furniture and variety areas to move around, collaborate and work in different ways, whether it’s at a communal table, in lounge areas or in multifunctional meeting spaces. The meeting suite, for example, features an enormous conference table as well as additional pull-out seating that folds down from the walls. Further auditorium spaces lend themselves to town hall meetings.

Andrew Evans and Will Wynne have been quoted saying: “We have ensured there’s plenty of space to accommodate the huge number of hires in the pipeline, as well as social spaces including outdoor space on five of the six floors and a top floor wraparound terrace.”

Embedding the brand into the design

As a young business intent on not only establishing their brand amongst team members and visitors, but also showcasing themselves as unique within the sector, the aesthetic style is heavily rooted in their colours and values.

The Smart Pension signature blue runs throughout in furnishings, the flooring, paintwork, lighting cables and acoustic features used to counter the impact of hard surfaces. This is offset by pops of colour that reference their youthful outlook, softened by using natural timbers, terrazzo stone, white painted exposed ceilings, and plenty of plant life.

The company logo is front and centre, both in its full form and with more subtle references throughout the space. For example, circular light fixtures were selected to reference the shape of the logo, along with a repeated circle pattern in acoustic panels in the meeting suite.

A unique space for a unique team

The result is a working environment that can be a true home to the Smart Pension team, showcasing professionalism and integrity as well as their character, fresh outlook, and open-minded nature.

“This was a really wonderful project to work on, addressing a large space and really getting to know the nature of a vibrant team. The result is a fresh-feeling space where the team can live and breathe the brand, whilst also fully enjoying the work experience in the knowledge they’re valued and supported by the company.”

Kate McDermott, Design Director at Maris Interiors

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