The reception area of the Scentre Group's Support Office in Newmarket underwent a much-needed renovation in 2016. The upgrade saw the original dated corporate reception transformed into a more modern and approachable space for both visitors and Scentre Group staff.

"We wanted to change the way the space was used," explains Gabrielle Bevin-Smith, National Retail Design Manager for the Scentre Group NZ. To do this, they looked for materials that could bring warmth into the space — to make it more welcoming for visitors, and to encourage internal staff to make use of the area for collaborative work and informal meetings.

"The finish was important, both cost-wise and in achieving an effective look that added warmth to the space," says Bevin-Smith. Plytech's Spectrum ply in a clear finish was specified for wall panelling in the upgrade. Spectrum is an affordable pre-finished plywood available in a clear finish or a range of transparent colours.

A key benefit of using Spectrum was the flexibility it offered. "We find that plywood is obviously very flexible in its opportunities for how it can be used," explains Bevin-Smith. "So for us it was a matter of how do we want to use it? How do we want to make it bespoke for what we want?" She took advantage of this flexibility and designed the walls around the Spectrum sheet sizes, with timber battens cleverly covering the joins. As well as adding warmth, the contrast between the ply walls and adjacent white walls has helped break up the space, giving it a more intimate feel.

Bespoke furniture was also created with Spectrum for the reception area, with a leaner at bar stool height, and a low leaner at the window helping define collaborative working and meeting areas within the space. The plywood elements sit nicely within the overall design which features an exposed concrete floor, soft furnishings, new lighting, a new reception desk and planting — all of which help bring warmth to the space.  

"It still feels professional, but it has a warmth — the plywood contributes to that," says Bevin-Smith. "With the natural light, and because we went for a lighter timber finish with white walls, it has made the space feel lighter and brighter."

"People love using it," she adds. "The space is well-used, not just for the reception, waiting and welcome areas, but for informal meeting and collaboration work too."