An array of Forbo Flooring Systems floor coverings has been installed at the UK’s first-ever Halifax flagship branch. The project, which is unlike any traditional bank, has been awarded top honours in the annual Fly Forbo 2018/19 competition.
Designed by retail and brand consultancy firm, Honest, the 13,500 sq ft Halifax branch located on Oxford Street in central London, replaces the former Dorothy Perkins and Burton flagship store. Spanning over three floors and split into different zones, the interior design incorporates vibrant colours and inviting furnishings to create a welcoming and homely environment.
Michelle Hardy, senior creative at Honest, said: “The Halifax flagship is the first of its kind. We have done a lot of work with the bank over the years to formulate its retail experience, but this project really emphasises the transformation of customer experience. Financial decisions require more time and thought; therefore, it is important that customers feel comfortable, relaxed and supported in their surroundings to make these discussions. For this reason, we proposed the concept of the ‘Halifax home’, where every element of the interior, from the furniture to the floor coverings, needed to create that ‘home away from home’ feel.
“We visited the Forbo showroom in Clerkenwell, which was the ideal source of inspiration, as we needed hardwearing, comfortable and contemporary floor coverings that would denote spaces without being overwhelming. Working closely with and utilising the knowledge and guidance of our Forbo key account manager, we were able to identify an array of products from Forbo’s portfolio that would help us to meet our objectives.”
Building on the concept of the ‘home’, the entrance area of the flagship is set in the ‘garden’ where customers are greeted with a park bench and a welcome sign tree display. Nuway Tuftiguard Design with Black Anodised Aluminum Scrapers Bars and charcoal wiper stripes in 12mm depth was used as the primary entrance matting due to its durability, strength and structural integrity to handle heavy and intense traffic – ideal for a bank located on Europe’s busiest shopping street. Adjoined to the Nuway is Forbo’s Coral Classic in Warm Black, which acts as a secondary entrance mat to represent the pavement in the garden, while also providing additional dirt and moisture absorption.
The main focal point on the first floor is the Home Hub, a highly interactive digital zone that offers support with the home buying and moving process. A combination of Westbond carpet tiles in the Dark Blue and Seaside colourways were installed in a circular shape, parallel to the circular ceiling raft directly above it, to distinguish and draw attraction to the central area. Surrounding this focal point and covering the remainder of the Home Hub is Forbo’s Allura Flex Wood Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) in the rustic anthracite oak shade, which has been installed in a chevron pattern to create a striking contrast to the blue circle.
Thanks to the comfortable and durable qualities of Allura Flex Wood LVT, it was also chosen for the viewing rooms, the staff room and the entirety of the basement floor, which features a children’s entertainment zone and a safety deposit facility. The deep country oak colourway provides increased realism for a warm and tactile aesthetic. As it forms part of the ‘Tack’ collection, the luxury vinyl tiles were also easily installed using the same tackifier as the carpet tiles for a flawless finish.
What’s more, an array of Forbo’s carpet tiles were installed throughout the building, including Tessera Diffusion in space quest behind the cashiers, for its organic geometric design and softer properties, which was essential for the employees working in these areas.
Michelle continued: “The Westbond Colour collection comprises an outstanding range of shades, which offers infinite design possibilities. The fusion bonded carpet tiles have a beautiful, broadloom appearance and the comfortable underfoot feel made it ideal for several areas within the ‘Halifax home’.
“As well as in the Home Hub, we used Westbond throughout the private meeting rooms on the first floor, which were decorated and named after rooms that are traditionally found inside a home. To complement the décor, Westbond in the Virdian colourway, a dark green shade, was used in ‘The Study’ room, while dixie plum, a dark plum tone, was fitted in ‘The Dining Room’. Finally, the navy colourway was laid in the final private meeting room, ‘The Living Room’.
“Further to this, we wanted to create a carpet tile that was completely unique to the Halifax flagship. As such, using the Tessera Inline format, a bespoke colourway was manufactured: Halifax jute, a vibrant blue shade that reflects the Halifax branding. Used in the ground floor meeting rooms and in the three confidential meeting rooms on the basement floor, the rich linear texture of Tessera Inline and the vivacious colour of Halifax jute complemented the furnishings really well to achieve a homely atmosphere.”
While comfort was important throughout the design, safety was also paramount. At the heart of the ‘home’, surestep stone in blue concrete was installed in the serving areas of ‘The Kitchen’, a café and event space located on the top floor, to prevent accidental slips, trips and falls. The safety flooring was also used in the staff toilets. The true to life stone floor designs of the Surestep collection are enriched with Forbo’s unique step crystal particles for sustainable lifetime slip-resistance, which were ideal for such areas.
Forbo’s product portfolio expands beyond floor coverings for this project, with its pin board linoleum product also specified. Produced from natural and renewable raw materials, bulletin board was used to create a playful and decorative display in the travel zone. The oystershell colourway was applied directly to the wall surface, with fresh pineapple used over the top to create a world map mural. The yellow map uses drawing pins and stretches of cotton radiating out from London to different destinations around the world.
The exceptionally durable and sustainable material is a practical, simple solution to collect and exchange information and ideas, and as such, it was also installed in the staff room in the blue berry shade. The light grey oystershell shade was further applied onto the wall of the Kids’ Saving zone, too.
Michelle concluded: “The Halifax flagship is unlike any traditional bank branch; it is a place to explore, learn, meet and chat. The project was a two-year work-in-progress and we are delighted with how it has come together. We have been able to create an integrated flooring scheme using an array of Forbo’s products and we are pleased, but not surprised, by the products’ performances. They have significantly contributed to our goal of creating a warm, clean and homely aesthetic, as we look to change the customer experience of banking.”
Paula Rowntree, head of branch formats and design at Halifax, commented: “We co-created the flagship with customers and colleagues with the purpose of designing a branch that places customer needs at the heart of all our activity. We are very proud of the outcome and the feedback from customers and colleagues has been fantastic.”