Gallic chic: is this the most beautiful office in the world?

As more companies mandate their people back to the office, a French creative agency shows how to  make a more compelling offer to employees with a stunning restoration of a 19th century ballroom

It’s the French workplace that has got the pundits purring. Wallpaper magazine called it ‘a chic open plan office worth leaving home for’ and asked ‘is this the most beautiful office in the world?’ The new HQ for Parisian creative agency Art Recherche Industrie converts a 19th century Gothic-style ballroom in the city’s 10th arrondisement into one grand creative space for 25 staff to work in.

Colourful and charming with contemporary flashes of style, the office has been designed by the agency’s creative leader Ramdane Touhami inside a building that started life in 1860 as a fish restaurant. A staircase leads up from the expansive ballroom to more private spaces on a mezzanine and the office’s basement has two recording studios and a tennis court. The agency even has its own Japanese chef to complement the creative environment. Every effort is made to make this office a ‘destination’ that is well worth the commute.

Compelling offer

Aside from being a bold restoration project with gilded panels, statues and stained glass, Art Recherche Industrie’s HQ tells us something about making the office a more compelling offer to employees.

Its unveiling comes at a time when more companies are mandating their people back to the office. Amazon is the latest high-profile name to enforce a new policy: all office staff will have to work in–person at least three days per week from 1 May 2023, ending a more laissez faire approach that left decisions on working remotely to local team directors.

Amazon is not the only big employer backtracking on flexibility. Disney has called its staff back to the office four days per week from the beginning of March. Starbucks has also tightened up on remote work, stipulating three days per week of in-person work.

One thing is clear. It’s unlikely that returners in these large multinationals will have anything like the custom-made experience exemplified by Art Recherche Industrie’s new HQ.

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