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A stunning refurb at a prestigious City landmark

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Twenty Gracechurch Street is a striking postmodernist high-rise office complex in the heart of the City of London and home to one of the world’s largest financial organisations.

When it came to lease renewal, some occupants saw this as an opportunity to refurbish the interiors.

And what a renovation indeed, says Gary Varndell, who acted as Chief Design Consultant on the project. Gary's design firm Squarefoot Design has worked with Clarke Rendall in the past on some exciting projects; it's been a real labour of love working with him.

"Working with Gary has always been interesting and enjoyable," says our Marketing Director, Bradley Fielden. "That evolving element of the project meant that as a consultant, Gary needed to rely on a joinery team who could respond to an unwinding remit".

The resulting interior work by Clarke Rendall has been a seven-storey success. The entire look and feel has been transformed with a contemporary style at odds with the heterogeneity of standard open plan.

The intention for the building had always been to move towards a more contemporary vogue. But, initially, the renovation was meant to be no more than a light touch. As the pandemic emptied the building, it was rightly thought an excellent time to undertake an extensive rejuvenation.

New carpets grace the floors as hallways sweep in a green wall and timber design that is relaxing yet enlivening. Around thirty percent of space was cleared of desks to make way for collaboration zones, meeting pods, and coffee hubs.

Agility and utility

The intention was always that the physical space should embody the contemporary movement of agile working, where businesses embrace a design culture that actively fosters and facilitates a flexible working experience.

The Clarke Rendall team worked diligently with Gary to break the conventional boundaries between employee zones and traditional work methods, allowing people to work where they think best.

At Gracechurch Street, we moved to ensure a rich array of workspaces, especially break-out spaces, communal areas, and home-like environments. These kinds of rooms are conceived to accommodate a variety of working modes and to maximise staff comfort and efficiency.

A leafy decor that wows

When it came to the decor for these prestigious offices, the Squarefoot Design team embraced the idea of artificial green walls. Faux plants have come a long way since their lukewarm reception in the 1980s.

Green-walled spaces with artificial plants now look stunningly authentic and bold; they provided a chic but natural look that the client loved from the start.

"I spoke with Clarke Rendall and told them my idea of green walls, and we designed the interior together," says Gary. "It got to the point where so much green wall was demanded that I knew, as a designer, we had to break up the look so it would be palatably punctuated.

"Clarke Rendall worked to introduce timber walls into the design. The feedback was instantaneously positive."

Our customised approach

Clarke Rendall's primary aptitude at Gracechurch Street was in elegant, bespoke joinery. The timber walls that punctuate the greenery are fluently crafted from stunning wood that has wowed staff and visitors.

"As the project grew, we started building customised elements of furniture for the staff room, the canteens, and the conservatory," says Bradley. "We produced specialised partitioning so they could section off areas and repurpose them if needed.

"It was a fantastic project to work on. As the project grew, demand for our specialist furniture increased too. The client said they loved Gary Varndell's design and that they wanted more.

"It took us about two years to get all the work done, and our collaboration has produced interiors built to last and designed to impress. People have been blown away by how better the spaces feel and look."

Joining forces for excellence

Gary Varndell recalls how it was straightforward to work with Clarke Rendall. As the project continued to grow, he says the team was responsive, creative, and easy to get on with.

Gary Varndell from Squarefoot Design

"It is a joy to work with Clarke Rendall," says Gary, "As a professional designer, I need a bespoke furniture firm that can respond to a changing brief.

"I've been a designer for many years, and I always use companies I know can deliver. I know I'll be working with the team at Clarke Rendall again."

Impact for good

This exciting project showed just what a great Design Consultant and a fine bespoke joinery team could achieve.

Looking at the building now, we're proud to have made an impact that has thoroughly enhanced the working lives of the staff who do their jobs in the interiors we have created. Our dedication is to those people.

If you’d like to discuss a bespoke joinery project to help complete or enhance your reception area, get in touch on 01908 391600 or email

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