Shuaib Manuel's painting team love the happy note of 'Song of Norway'.

Greg, Brad and Ian at Cape Town agency Instant Grass are honey buns. They’re giving their people the funnest new offices I’ve seen in years. Maybe the funnest ever. The revamp has been conceived and produced by Jaco Janse van Rensburg, masterful designer-maker of beautiful spaces. In the next few weeks I’ll be sending postcards from I G’s offices in Greenpoint Cape Town – with lots of lovely Before & Afters.

Funnest isn’t a word, Koeks.

It is, when you’re talking a makeover like this one, which goes so far down the rabbit hole, it’s actually pitch black in there. I mean, literally, jet black. I know, because I ordered the paint colour from the Earthcote factory. They’re using Windswept which is gritty, shimmery stuff. It’s like black castor sugar. Yum. Even the ceilings are black, the colour of licorice.  I know what you’re thinking. See, in spirit, it’s not dark. Black is the background colour against which everything else goes pop. What gives the place its effevescence are the random elements of joy that are there, quite shamelessly, for the fun of it. Things like Chinese red lollypop lanterns en masse. (Imagine, against black.) The family pack of Mary Poppins umbrellas floating on the ceiling as you enter. The curtained capsule that beams you up, Scottie, at the meeting desk in the foyer. And a wall done in blackboard paint that everyone can draw on. Over in the main studio area, there’s a supersized snakey table with a few dozen legs that everyone sits at.

Nobody has their own actual desk?

That’s right. There are a few curtained cubicles (woo hoo) with desks for more serious business hanna-hanna. But basically everyone sits at one long desk that runs diagonally across the entire open plan studio, with dozens of legs, like a caterpillar. When it gets to the kitchen, it becomes the kitchen table where everyone will eat and imbibe coffee and guarana shots. An old mid-century fridge will be sprayed postbox red. This will be the stationary cupboard. Oh, and there is a bar counter in reception, not a reception desk. Reception, as in a person manacled to a table with a phone in her hand, is no longer a useful concept. I’m with them on that.

Cover designed by cult UK designer Anthony Burrill - from a series of four, commissioned by the magazine. IG presentation room is painted this colour blue.

People really work here?

Yes. That’s why they need to play. One of the changes I love most is the robin egg blue room at the entrance – same colour as the Wallpaper cover. An entire room painted blue (ceiling included) with a very grown-up grey flannel sofa and another red and white stripe sofa that does the cha-cha against the blue. The colour of this room is from the Tiffany family. So the room feels like a supersized Tiffany & Co. box, with the colours of jewels twinkling at you from the rug and the art on the walls. There’s a curtain in the identical blue colour, that Midas colour-matched paint to, closing off the room from the foyer.

Enough prose. It needs pictures, which I’ll be sending lots of. This is the space BEFORE Mr Manuel’s painter’s came. You get the picture. AFTER shots coming soon.




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