Top10 is one of Europe’s fastest growing travel startups. Their new office, sitting on the corner of Great Pulteney street in Soho, was once occupied by cabinet makers and carpenters and much like the rest of the street the area was historically one of design and craft.

Soho maintains a strong design legacy and creative energy despite the craftsfolk having moved out some time ago. As the new kids on the block, Top10’s harks vision back to the handpicked and personal approach the street has missed - and working together we wanted to bring this into the design of their workplace.

Collaborating on ideas for the long well-lit space, Opendesk developed a series of modular cabinets that span the full length of the room. Coming together as a single unifying element, this wooden wall provides bespoke solutions for display, storage and team working, whilst also linking back to the history of making in the building.

The design process was a very enjoyable affair and resulted in a paired-back aesthetic that combines the bespoke cabinetry with our Standing Desk, Cafe Tables and original Lean Desks with a white desktop finish.

Afterwards, we interviewed Tom Leathes, CEO and Co-Founder, to find out more about the move and the people involved.

Top10 founders: Alex Buttle, Harry Jones & Tom Leathes

Opendesk: Could you describe your role and decision making?

Tom Leathes: I’m the CEO and Co-Founder along with Harry and Alex, who look after product and marketing respectively. With something as important as an office move we’ll make that decision together and also consult the team.

Opendesk:

So what prompted the move?

Tom Leathes:

We had already out-grown our previous space in Clerkenwell and had just raised a new round of funding so we could grow more. We needed a new office space to reflect those plans. Our past office was fun but pretty scrappy – as early stage companies tend to be - so it was time to build an environment that was much more fun and exciting, and a bit more grown-up.

Opendesk:

Trials and tribulations?

Tom Leathes:

Our first problem was to find a space and, oddly, it was cheaper in Soho compared to where we were before in East London. Shoreditch and Clerkenwell have become so in-demand now that more traditionally popular areas have been forgotten a bit. For us, Soho suits perfectly - it is a fun area in the middle of everything and easy for the whole team to get to.

What we particularly liked about the space was that it was a blank canvas and we had the opportunity to mould it to what we need. The space itself isn’t particularly striking and doesn’t have any notable architectural highlights like exposed-beams, so we knew we’d have to do something special with the fit-out to make it more interesting.

Opendesk:

How did you begin the search for workspace furniture?

Tom Leathes:

Well we’ve only ever used IKEA in the past. To be fair, this works really well when you’re starting out – it’s cheap but, not great quality and always has that cobbled-together feel. Knowing we wanted to move away from that, we started looking beyond the obvious.

We found the next step-up meant thousands of pounds worth of high-end furniture, which is way too expensive for any start-up to afford. There’s not a lot in between the low and high end that’s exciting but affordable. Then we came across Opendesk and well, here we are!

Opendesk:

So having found us how did you go about knowing what you need?

Tom Leathes:

The office is an emotive subject and it can’t just be one person’s vision. We talked to the team about what they wanted and carefully looked at the natural way we work together. For example we use Kanban boards on the walls and doors (idea boards, think posties) to plan projects and daily tasks, and started thinking about how we can build a work space that fits the working habits of the team and not the other way round.

Opendesk:

Were there other learnings you took from the team?

Tom Leathes:

A big request from the team were standing desks. In our old office, one team member in particular had fashioned one up from IKEA parts, and used it all day, every day - what convinced me was how busy his desk was when he wasn’t there!

An office move is a fun thing for the team, it’s exciting. In a startup you’ll often spend 50-60 hours a week in one office, with the same people - making changes has a big impact.

Opendesk:

When we started the project you told us that you have an 18 month lease on the space. Did that influence your buying designs?

Tom Leathes:

Definitely. That was one of the big things that was good about Opendesk - everything we have can be reused and stacked or arranged in different ways.

When we move again it’ll be great to bring everything to a new space and build on what we already have.

Opendesk:

Any surprises?

Tom Leathes:

Actually we were really surprised by the cost - it was very good value. Crazy good value, actually, considering how ambitious the designs were - bespoke furniture like this would been unaffordable through traditional furniture designers. Also, once we finalised the proposal everything arrived within a week thanks to the local makers - which was amazing to watch and underlined how powerful the Opendesk process is.

Opendesk:

How important was the end result for you?

Tom Leathes:

Really important and we’re all thrilled with the new space. It encourages us to collaborate and is much more creative and organic than our last office. It’s also important with hiring new people – we get lots of comments about how great the space is from partners, clients and prospective hires.

Opendesk:

So what’s the next big thing for Top10?

Tom Leathes:

Top10 is continuing to grow quickly. We grew the team from 7 to 25 people in just over a year and having focused on the UK, we are quickly expanding the user-base to the US, Europe and beyond. We may well need to open up new offices abroad in the future, and if we do I’m sure we will take a similar approach. I think we’d aim to keep it very similar. When we do venture outside of the UK (in a physical sense) I’d imagine our team travelling frequently so having a comfortable, familiar space would be important.

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