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What’s the most challenging fit out for a fit out contractor?


Our experience in fit out was put to the ultimate test!

Question: So what’s the most challenging office to design and fit out?

Answer: The office of a Design and Build office fit out contractor.

The mac Newry office project was an entirely new fit out to a three story, untouched building. The building was vacant and left in a Cat A finish. There were no raised access floors, and the ceiling in place was stained with age, the heating system was very poor, with occasional radiators fitted to the perimeter of the building and there were no cooling controls. The bathrooms were in usable condition, but quite pokey and below average finishes. The best existing feature at the premises are the windows which are sprayed to a lovely matte navy/charcoal. This ended up being the base of the colour scheme over all floors and the root of the ‘dark’ design concept.

Our Interior Architect and PM, Barbara Dooley, had to find a way to combine the expectations of management, her co-workers who would be the end-users and also put her own stamp on the project. Tough gig and an even tougher audience, but we can officially say she nailed it!

Read about the inspiration, the detail and the challenges Barbara encountered.

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Getting it right the first time, so that no part of the project became an afterthought.

The Client

The client, albeit extremely sound and understanding, was tricky! Paul, Brendan, Ronan and Martin were all the decision makers of the project. The guys know a thing or two about fit out, so they were always going to be tough to impress!

The Concept

The first layout concept and mood board was drafted in November 2016. I presented this to Paul and we worked back and forth on the idea for 4 weeks before presenting it to the board. The concept was dark with a huge emphasis on bespoke joinery. I wanted to divide the space with screens that were not office screens. I wanted to use far more cutting edge finishes and move away from the pitfalls of dull and corporate offices. I didn’t want to see ‘buzz words’ on silver frosted manifestations, or mission statements stuck on walls without integrating all these pieces into the design. Too often you see posters, or white boards with cheesy statements fitted thoughtlessly into spaces and I wanted to move away from this, and offer something clean, getting it right the first time, so that no part of the project became an afterthought.

The Detail

‘I brought in floor finish samples which were a mix of natural marble, heavily veined, and plank affect carpet tiles to be fitted in a herring bone pattern. We used engineered wood to create a funky and colourful floor in the canteen, and a plush stone and marble affect ‘dyelab’ carpet tile to the executive floor.

The reception houses the feature joinery element in a dark and transparent screen, filled with stained mirrors which acts as the back drop to a sleek reception desk with ‘mac’ etched into it.

The bathrooms were heavily upgraded, with gold finished taps and ironmongery, floating mirrors, feature marble stone tiled walls and extensive vanity space.

The canteen has a feature ceiling, like something you would see walking the streets of Soho New York, with a grid style suspended filament bulb concept. The kitchen offers high bench seating, low lever seating and TV points to hold talks and meetings. The facility offers a space to actually go and collaborate, chill out and take a much deserved break.


The first floor houses a small meeting room, a small ‘hot’ office and a bespoke phone booth designed and installed by mac.

The executive floor is sleek and sophisticated. The boardroom is filled with slatted birch ply continuous joinery over a matte leather and birch meeting room table. The furniture is dark, soft and velvet in texture with matching birch legs, the TV and conference facility is upgraded and cleverly housed within the joinery and seamless within the table. The executive offices reflect the boardroom space, with dark matte cabinets mixed with pale birch storage, soft pea green upholstered break out furniture, and some bespoke made acoustic suspended artworks created ‘in house’.

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All of the lighting was hand selected and has a continuous feel that marries in with all the other finishes. The ceilings are sprayed black in areas, with a mix of concrete, black and gold pendants held within it. The furniture was carefully selected, with a vibrant mix of what is on trend, bespoke picked upholsters finishes, zero leg framed office desking systems, upholstered low level dividing screens, natural wood finishes to the break out zones, marble table tops and a designer arm chair to the reception.

The internal signage was bespoke again, with diamond shaped gold linear lines to fully cover all interior glass in a ‘webbed’ affect with the occasional gold logo inserted over all floors. A vinyl was created in house for the open office area. The concept was to create a rendered visual of an interior fit out and to creatively expand on the render sitting in the outside world. It’s slightly ‘out there’ however we worked hard to avoid the usual corporate look and move away from the obvious. The term ‘back of office’ has no meaning in Newry.


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The entire space had a total M&E upgrade which was designed by our Engineering Manager, Colm O’Hanlon. He created and managed all the elements to house new feature sprayed radiators, lighting and controls, heating controls, access control, emergency lighting, all the feature lights, sockets locations, power and data to the new layout and a cooling facility in the boardroom.’

If you’d like to talk to us about your own office space get in touch with Barbara

See the full project here.

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