The carpet and flooring were an integral part of the design during the transformation of Godfrey Hirst Australia’s head office in South Geelong, Victoria.

Godfrey Hirst has a longstanding history dating back to 1865 with the successful textile manufacturing business growing exponentially from the 1960s, when the McKendrick family introduced local manufacturing of broadloom and modular carpet tiles and imported on-trend hard flooring from around the globe.

In 2018, the Godfrey Hirst business was acquired by Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, which positively expanded their product offering and capability on a truly global scale.

Today, backed by a strong local heritage, the company operates production, distribution and sales facilities throughout Australia and New Zealand, supporting over 960 Australian and New Zealand employees and their families. One such site is a historical wool store built in 1874 that sits within Godfrey Hirst’s South Geelong operations on the banks of the Barwon River. This incredible old wool store has operated as a very humble head office for Godfrey Hirst Australia.

Following the challenges of 2020 and working from home for much of the year, the company set out to revive the beauty of the original wool store and transform their head office – known as The Whitehouse –to maximise the collaboration, creativity and innovation enabled by the work-from-work set-up.

Employee wellbeing and architectural integrity have been prioritised in the finished design that features a COVID-safe open plan central hub, re-exposed brickwork and pitched wooden ceiling, accentuated original timber trusses and an array of living plant life. Natural light now reaches all corners of the building thanks to the refurbished external windows and floor-to-ceiling Manhattan-style black steel internal window framing for all offices.

Aligned with Godfrey Hirst’s sustainability goals, all hardwood, glass and other reusable or recyclable materials that were no longer needed in the building were carefully sorted and sent off for responsible disposal and repurpose. The company will soon announce the voluntary net carbon neutrality of all operations right across Australia, certified under the Climate Active program. This includes all activity at the newly renovated head office, where the carbon emitted by every laptop, every employee commute, every lunchbreak and more is offset each year by way of local reforestation, and renewable energy projects abroad.

GH Commercial understands the power of good workplace design and how that can positively impact productivity, enhance overall job satisfaction as well as improve the health and wellbeing of building occupants. With a view to introducing aspects of nature into the work environment by applying biophilic design principles, carpet planks from the Relaxing Floors Collection, manufactured right here in Geelong were chosen for the refurbished office.

Relaxing Floors are especially designed to incorporate ‘fractals’, a term that describes the infinite and random patterns found in nature such as leaves and trees. Fractals have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve the wellbeing of those around them – and in this case – give occupants a break from the digital world and deliver the essence of nature to the office. This visual language is the core of Relaxing Floors, a Declare® Red List Free certified carpet plank system designed by 13&9 Design in collaboration with Fractals Research and the team at Mohawk Group.

Featuring four products, each with eight distinctive colourways, the Relaxing Floors Collection offers seemingly limitless layout options to transform workplace and multi-residential spaces. The GH Commercial design team used a custom-coloured compilation of ChillD, MellowD and RestD carpet planks in a bespoke layout that also incorporated Fractal Ground to provide a visual break from the complex cohesion of hero patterns.

Inspired by the plumage of owls, Flight in Western Screech from the Mohawk Owls Collection also cleverly delineates offices from the central open plan hub with a series of visually seamless walkways. The wet areas feature terrazzo inspired Mysto vinyl planks from IVC Commercial.

Now manufactured and stocked locally, the Relaxing Floors Collection provides greater pattern capability and colour placement, and pinpoint stitch accuracy for a durable and custom tile and plank offering.

Photography: Dino Zukan