Sponda’s Helsinki office embraces hybrid work

What kind of office space best supports the evolving ways of working? This was the question tackled by Studio Joanna Laajisto’s team as they designed the new premises for real estate development company Sponda in downtown Helsinki. Some of the furniture for the project was sourced through Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales.

Alvar Aalto A335B pendant light
Cozy seating area next to the reception desk. The brass pendant lamp is Alvar Aalto’s A335B. Vintage design and artworks owned by Sponda play a crucial role in the office’s interior.

IN THE HEART OF downtown Helsinki stands a modest-looking commercial building constructed in the 1980s. Its exterior doesn’t boast much, but inside, visitors are greeted by cozy and stylish office spaces that belong to the real estate investment company Sponda. The newly renovated premises, completed in August 2023, were designed by Studio Joanna Laajisto, respecting the original character of the building.

Upon entering Sponda’s office, visitors encounter a reception desk. Next to it, there’s a lounge area, featuring a plush sofa and elegant wooden armchairs inviting guests to sit for a moment. Adding to the cozy atmosphere are beautiful design lamps, a soft checkered carpet, indoor plants, and artworks owned by Sponda. It feels as if stepping into a chic living room or the lobby of a sophisticated hotel.

BM0488L Table Bench
Green plants soften the space along with artworks from Sponda’s art collection. The BM0488 bench is by Carl Hansen & Søn.
Sponda office in Helsinki, Finland
The interior design continues the architectural style of the building constructed in the 1980s. Inspired by the original oak windows, designers opted for oak as the material for radiator covers, the reception desk, and cabinets.
A detail from the Sponda office in Helsinki
Laajisto’s team chose timeless and eco-friendly materials for surface finishes, ensuring durability over time.

In recent years, the boundary between office, home, hotel, and restaurant interiors has narrowed. Offices are being designed as comfortable spaces for socializing, as they have become increasingly important meeting points where colleagues and clients come together, and bonds are tied.

“Significant investments are being made in office interiors, aiming for them to be ’better than home.’ Employees are being drawn to offices with stylish lounge areas and workstations featuring good ergonomics, proper acoustics and lighting, and reliable data connections,” describes interior architect Joanna Laajisto.

Joanna Laajisto portrait
Interior architect Joanna Laajisto and her team were responsible for the design of Sponda’s office.

Sponda’s objective for the new office was to create a modern, collaborative work environment that inspires local work and supports staff well-being and community.

The centerpiece of Sponda’s shared spaces is the large meeting area, Town Hall. It combines a spacious open kitchen with various table and sofa groups for relaxing. The open and bright space can accommodate the entire staff for gatherings. In the summer, meetings spill out onto the new 175-square-meter rooftop terrace, featuring comfortable seating areas sheltered by pergolas, plantings, and a summer kitchen with grills.

Town Hall has quickly become one of the favorite spots in the office. It also hosts a weekly communal breakfast for the staff, making it the busiest day of the week. At other times, the space attracts people for laptop work or lunch.

Yrjö Kukkapuro's Plaano chairs
The Plaano chairs in the meeting rooms were designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro. They were previously used in Sponda’s former office and have now been reupholstered in leather. Oak radiator covers were custom-made for under the windows.
Yrjö Kukkapuro's Plaano chairs
In the meeting rooms, the company's expert role was emphasized. This is reflected in the interior choices, such as the wall-to-wall carpet, whose checkered pattern echoes the subtle patterns found in suiting fabrics.
Soundproof phone booths
Adjacent to the open-plan offices are separate, soundproof phone booths.

WITH THE NEW office, Sponda also revamped its work practices. Now, work is done in small open-plan zones where no one has a designated workstation; instead, each person chooses a suitable spot according to their task. Some areas are designated for quiet work, while elsewhere, colleagues can engage in discussions and exchange ideas.

“To enable focused work in open-plan offices, phone booths and separate spaces for meetings and client appointments have been placed nearby. With hybrid working, offices require even more flexibility and adaptability since the number and composition of employees vary daily,” Joanna Laajisto explains.

“The office is never really finished but evolves continuously.”

In the interior design of the open-plan areas and meeting rooms, Laajisto has emphasized the company’s expertise, designing spaces that exude quality and dynamism. Warm wood finishes, artworks, and the temporal layering of furniture soften the overall look. For instance, in the meeting rooms, there are chairs from the Plaano series designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro, which were already present in Sponda’s previous premises. Now, these chairs have been reupholstered in leather.

HAY Kofi tables
Home-like furniture, artworks, warm wood finishes, and an earthy color palette create a comfortable, homely atmosphere in the office. The Kofi coffee tables are from HAY.
Dorica floor lamp, Santa & Cole
The carefully chosen material and color palettes of the interior balance the overall look of the spaces. The Doricá floor lamp is from Santa & Cole.

Sustainability is an integral part of all of Sponda’s operations, and this is also evident in the choices related to the office space. In the renovation of the 1980s office building, efforts were made to preserve or recycle as much of the old as possible.

“The office space had reached the end of its technical lifespan, so Sponda carried out a thorough renovation of the building. We preserved everything that could be preserved and used the original architectural solutions, such as the beautiful wooden windows, as the basis for new fixed elements,” Laajisto explains.

“We need to learn to utilize what already exists more and accept imperfect, perhaps even slightly rugged aesthetics.”

The new materials were selected to withstand usage both technically and aesthetically for as long as possible.

“It’s not ecologically sustainable to completely renovate office spaces every 5–10 years, every time a tenant changes. We need to learn to utilize what already exists more and accept imperfect, perhaps even slightly rugged aesthetics. Not everything needs to be polished and smoothed to look brand new. That’s something for us designers to digest,” says Laajisto.

Green Vitra All Plastic Chairs
A pergola structure was designed for the rooftop terrace, providing shelter for several seating areas, a summer kitchen, and green plantings. The ivy green All Plastic Chairs are from Vitra.
Sponda office in Helsinki, outdoor space
Green plantings are an essential part of Sponda's office indoor and outdoor spaces.

SPONDA’S OFFICE was furnished with high-quality new and recycled furniture sourced through Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales.

“This was a particularly interesting project for us because, in addition to supplying new furniture, decoration products, and outdoor furniture, we also provided recycled design furniture. We worked closely with Franckly, a curated online marketplace for pre-owned design furniture that’s part of Finnish Design Shop,” explains Heli Juuti from the Contract Sales team. In addition to the Artek Domus chairs found through Franckly, Sponda also refurbished its own old furniture pieces.

Pre-owned Artel Domus chairs
In the kitchen, a communal breakfast is served to employees once a week. The chairs around the round table are vintage Domus chairs sourced through Franckly. On the kitchen island, there is a Marset Ambrosia lamp.
Sponda office, Helsinki
Town Hall is like a large loft apartment, where the open kitchen and living room merge. The spacious area can accommodate the entire staff when needed to spend time together. The oak J165C counter stools are by FDB Møbler.
Sponda office dining space
Town Hall features seating groups and corners where one can settle to work, dine, or meet with colleagues. The pendant lamps are from Le Klint.

The temporal layering indeed brings an interesting addition to the office’s interior design. But how common is it for interior projects to incorporate recycled furniture?

“It’s not yet entirely common, but the demand is growing steadily. There seems to be a significant need for this type of service. We believe that in the future, offices will increasingly use companies’ old furniture. Alongside these, carefully selected new pieces will be acquired, complementing the overall design with recycled pieces. We aim to be a helpful resource for designers, providing information and services related to this,” says Juuti.

Real estate investment company Sponda transformed its office building located in the heart of Helsinki into a stylish workplace that combines an excellent location, comfortable spaces, good workstations, and facilities and events that foster team spirit. The office is easy and inviting to visit – it serves as a model for Sponda’s clients who are seeking exemplary office spaces.

Get inspired

All Plastic Chair
Kofi table
Domus chair
Akari 1N lamp
Palissade lounge chair
Le Klint
1-17 pendant
Carl Hansen & Søn
BM0488L bench
Santa & Cole
Dórica floor lamp

See also:

Finnish Design Shop Contract Sales >
Pre-owned design from Franckly >

Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Mikko Ryhänen

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