How’s this for an incredible trajectory: as an 18-year-old university student, Carolyn Creswell co-purchased a tiny muesli business, using $1,000 of her savings. Twenty-five years on, as CEO, Carolyn has grown Carman’s into the number-one selling muesli brand on Australian supermarket shelves. It now exports its breakfast range and nutritional snacks to 35 countries worldwide, and just recently launched on Amazon Australia (selling out in the first day).
For a long time (though not 25-years long) Carolyn had been on the hunt for a new HQ: ‘a building that had soul and potential’ but was also centrally located, had lots of parking yet was also close to public transport, as well as shops. Having heard a little about her track record, you won’t be surprised to know she found one that ticked all those boxes, moving her business into a vast premises (just shy of 3,000-metres-squared) in Huntingdale in April 2018.
For the redevelopment of the building, Carolyn turned to Ewert Leaf, following an introduction by property development and construction company Steller. The architecture and interior design practice’s approach was clear from the onset. It was all about creating ‘a familiar and homely approach to workplace design,’ tells Hayley Page, senior interior designer at Ewert Leaf. This materialised in the form of warm timber joinery and cladding, natural fibre floor finishes, rattan workstation screening and blackened steel detailing, which were all selected to draw a direct link to residential design.
As Carolyn begins to reel off some of her favourite inclusions and spaces, I realise how much of a passion project this has been for her, and also how much I’ve outgrown my chocolate-factory workplace fantasies. There’s a large gym with circuit classes (and onsite personal training), yoga room with weekly yoga and meditation classes, infrared sauna, massage room, lush garden with conservatory and an inviting barbecue area under two large palms. Then there’s the commercial kitchen where an in-house chef prepares lunch AND take-home dinners, plus, of course, a kitchen store stocked with all the Carman products.
Hayley, too, loves the conservatory, which ‘provides employees with a natural oasis for retreat’, and can be utilised for meetings, be they of the walking variety in the lush surroundings, or within the bright and airy conservatory itself. She also praises the personal touches (Carolyn chose every single detail, from the tiles to the carpet, to how the lift lights are positioned!), such as pieces from Carolyn’s own art collection, as well as and the amenities that support the staff. Hayley’s magnum opus, though, is the void with hanging plant installation, cleverly connecting the workspace with the retail space below.
‘I’ve tried to create a space that feels very homely, warm and stylish so that my staff (and I!) love coming into work every day,’ adds Carolyn. ‘This includes a lot of the things that matter to me in my home, such as natural light, layers of texture, a warm colour scheme, great music and plenty of plants.’
Bringing healthy snacks to the world from such an idyllic HQ; we can’t think of a better daily ‘grind’. Move over Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (…at least while we’re all still going strong on our New Year’s Resolution health-kicks)!
Type of space
Two-storey retail and open-plan workplace
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Number of employees
An office should be…
‘State-of-the-art but also homely and warm,’ Carolyn Creswell, CEO of Carman’s.