Olivier Saguez is far from convinced that the office is dead.
“I don’t think you work best from home,” the Saguez & Partners founder asserts. “You don’t come into contact with others. So, you stay stuck with the same ideas. Working today is a collaborative experience and you need a place that creates connections.”
The firm’s latest project—new Parisian headquarters for the
Pernod Ricard wine and spirits group—is designed to do exactly that. Housed in a building by Ferrier Marchetti Studio, the office stands contiguous to Saint-Lazare train station and spans almost 200,000 square feet across eight floors. There are planted terraces and a few beehives on the green rooftop, and while none of the firm’s 900 employees has an assigned workstation, they do have a choice of some 2,400 different seats. They also have access to an almost dizzyingly long list of amenities, which include an in-house package-
delivery counter, a game room, a travel lounge with a nap room, and a “Health Village” comprising a gym, hairdressing salon and barber’s shop, massage parlor, and an infirmary.
Not bad, you may think. But the real highlight is the breathtaking 360-degree panorama the building affords over the City of Light. It’s hard to think of a single Parisian landmark that can’t be seen. There’s the Sacré Cœur to one side, the Eiffel Tower to the other and, oh yes, isn’t that the Pompidou Center all the way over in the distance? Not surprisingly, the most popular spots to work are the series of long tables that run along the windows. “You’re transported elsewhere,” Saguez & Partners creative director and associate Jean-Philippe Cordina enthuses. “It’s like a haven of peace and security at the heart of the city.” He, Saguez, and their team were also careful to maximize the influx of natural light. Partitions are kept to a minimum and shelving systems deliberately conceived to be see-through so as not to block the sunshine.
Currently number two worldwide in the wine and spirits sector, Pernod Ricard boasts such brands as Absolut vodka, Jameson whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum, and Perrier-Jouët Champagne. Yet it is the two aniseed-based aperitifs that make up the company’s name for which it is best known. The second was formulated in 1932 by Paul Ricard, and it is one of his grandsons, Alexandre Ricard, who heads up the group today. Grand-père Ricard was born in Marseille and the DNA of the conglomerate he started there remains very much linked to the south of France. So much so that the Paris headquarters has been nicknamed the Island after the Île des Embiez, a tiny haven off the coast of Provence, which the distiller acquired in 1958.
The designers were particularly keen to infuse the workplace with a laid-back, convivial, Mediterranean mood. The color palette is dominated by hues associated with the French Riviera—sea blues, saffrons, sand tones—and there are numerous other nods to the region, too. The abundant vegetation includes orange and lemon trees, there are terra-cotta pots from the Provençal town of Aubagne, and extensive use of wicker, cane, and rattan for furniture and finishes. The team also sourced vintage posters from the Ricard archive, as well as an enormous Salvador Dalí painting, which hangs to the right of the barlike reception desk on the ground floor. The canvas has a colorful history, having been stolen in 1973, hidden in a boat’s mast, and finally recovered five years later in a Paris airline baggage facility.
Yet the spirit of conviviality is perhaps best captured by the numerous cafeterias, lounges, and barlike areas throughout the building, each of which has been conceived to encapsulate the identity of one of the group’s liquor brands. The one for Havana Club features a Cuban ghetto blaster and rum chests, while the French aperitif lounge (for Pernod, Ricard, and Suze) was imagined like a terrace of a beach hotel, with a sunny mix of bright yellow tones and woven-cane wall panels. On the top floor, meanwhile, is the immense Sky Bar, its shelves laden with bottles filled with fake alcohol since drinking liquor is strictly forbidden in the French workplace.
If there is one word to sum up the project as a whole, it must be diversity. Not only through the juxtaposition of so many different brands but also in the great variety of work spaces offered. They range from silent rooms and phone booths to lounge areas and zones with high tables intended for making quick-fire decisions while standing up. For
Saguez, the aim is to encourage people to move around. “It’s not only good for your health but also gives rise to fortuitous encounters,” he says. “According to several theories, it’s from informal meetings that the best ideas arise.” And they’re certainly not going to happen sitting at home with your computer on the kitchen table.
Project Team: Valérie Parenty, Pierre-Olivier Pigeot, Jean-Philippe Cordina, Tancrède Le Pichon, Guillaume Agez, Marine Kempf, Julien Lavirotte, Maud Biancheri, Dominique Neel, Cécile Delahaie, Giacomo Volpe, Marie Anjubault, Charlotte le Gouvello, Arnaud Laly: Saguez & Partners. Hauteur Libre: Project Management. IMLC: Styling. Mugo Paysage: Landscaping Consultant. Sepelco: Custom Signage. Meta: Acoustical Consultant. Quatorze-IG: Architectural Feasibility Consultant. Duriez Agencement: Woodwork, Metalwork, Stonework, Custom Furniture.
Project Sources: Kettal: Basket Chairs, Sofa, Mesh Table, Pillows (Terrace). Arper: Ottoman (Terrace), Chairs (Meeting Room). Hay: Sofas, White Tables (Aperitif Lounge), Stool (Jameson Lounge). Normann Copenhagen: Coffee Table (Aperitif Lounge). Casamania & Horm: Rattan Armchairs. Tolix: Stools. Kasthall: Rug. Moroso: Woven Lounge Chairs. Caravane: Bamboo Pendant Fixtures. Marset: Round Pendant Fixture. &Tradition: Armchairs (Reception), Rug (Jameson Lounge). Vitra: Stools (Reception), Chairs (Boardroom). Actisol: Custom Rug (Boardroom). Stua: Armchair (Mail Room), Sofa, Armchair (Sitting Area), Tables (Sitting Area, Jameson Lounge). INCLASS: Side Table (Mail Room, Jameson Lounge), Table (Meeting Room). Ferm Living: Cushions (Mail Room, Sitting Area), Table (Specialty Brands Lounge). Red Edition: Sofas, Armchairs, Stools (Bar). Tacchini: Oval Tables. La Chance: Side Tables. Poliform: Wood Tables. GUBI: Black Tables. Cassina: Chairs (Specialty Brands Lounge). Tonone: Pendant Fixtures. Poltrona Frau: Armchairs (Jameson Lobby). Vibieffe: Sofa. Mullan Lighting: Pendant Fixtures. Aldo Bernardi: Sconces. Classicon: Lamp (Sitting Area). Throughout: Duriez: Custom Furniture.