Empathy - Wellington Office Fit Out, NZ

Empathy are a professional services design agency who undertake research to gain customer insights to help them solve “tricky business problems”.

They have a very clear brand identity, which they express as “suits” and “sneakers” – a sliding scale of formal to informal depending on the needs and personality of their clients. As such it was critical that their Wellington office fit out, reflected their identity to both staff and clients while operating as a flexible and functional work environment.


Keyway Construction


Montage Interiors


Light Studio


Agnes Fecher

Empathy’s brand is reflected in their visual identity, which is bright, fun, dynamic. Their core values are Passion, Collaboration, Curiosity, Greatness. When first discussing the requirement for a larger space to accommodate their growing business, it became clear that their design lead process would inform the direction of the design response. We discussed concepts of craft, raw sophistication, creativity, welcoming/hosting, flexible and agile spaces with a human-centred approach.

As an initial programming exercise, we considered the hand-drawn quality of the logo along with the dynamic “marker language” devices of their brand identity and overlaid this with the grid of the open-plan floor plate. By considering circulation routes and natural light conditions, the grid of the floor plate was disrupted through organising the required programme of workstations, formal meeting areas, breakout areas, presentation areas, project rooms and utility around an off-axis meeting room.

Adjacent spaces and wayfinding was then further defined with large painted circular gestures on the floor and ceiling, leading occupants through the space while delineating and characterising flexible breakout zones throughout. The existing floor plate was stripped back to its original concrete structure with the central columns receiving carbon fibre wrapped seismic strengthening. This presented an opportunity to balance refined interior finishes with the raw materiality of the existing building, which resulted in many instances of industrial elements played against ply and plasterboard, bright paint, custom street art, acoustic panelling and textiles.

The resulting space has tended more toward the “sneaker” than the “suit” in response to the inherent personality of the client, their team and creative process, however through well-resolved planning and sense of identity, the architecture presents a flexible, collaborative and coherent work environment.


Commended: Category 8, Commercial Interiors

Regional Winner: Resene Colour in Design Award