one for all

With a presence in 24 countries, telecommunications company Zain was looking for a group headquarters that would encapsulate its values in a single location
Story by: Justin Foote
The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the interior design, lobby, real estate, gray
The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the companies core values- Radiance, Heart, Belonging- in its design by UK based firm FutureBrand. Each floor has a unique graphic treatment.

Mobile technology has allowed us to conduct business on an unprecedented level. Now more than ever, the concept of a Global Village is an achievable proposition. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the telecommunications field.

Zain is a Bahrain-based telecommunications company with 70 million customers throughout the GCC and Africa. In creating a borderless mobile telephone network across 24 countries, it has become the number one or number two provider in each of those countries in just six years.

With an increasingly widespread presence, it became important to the company to consolidate all its group functions into a single headquarters that would not only house staff but would also act as a beacon, providing a symbolic link with each of its customers, says Paul Bretherton of FutureBrand, the brand strategy and design consultancy that created Zain's branding and was tasked with designing the offices.

"Zain wanted a big idea that was different, daring and a first of its kind in the region. With an existing developer's speculative building already in mind, Zain's management were seeking a concept that would balance the beauty of the Zain brand with a practical work environment for employees, while serving as a source of inspiration."

UK-based FutureBrand conceived the overall motif of the building, including the three individual schemes for the working floors, the staff common areas, the CEO floor, the boardroom floor, two meeting room floors and the ground floor reception. Although FutureBrand placed a representative in Bahrain, it was up to local company DWP Bahrain to ensure the design intent was adhered to on site, says project manager John Dickaty.

"We were brought on board to help realise the FutureBrand vision for Zain, liaising with both the client and FutureBrand."


The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the design, floor, flooring, flower, furniture, interior design, pink, product design, purple, table, white
The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the companies core values- Radiance, Heart, Belonging- in its design by UK based firm FutureBrand. Each floor has a unique graphic treatment.

Zain's new headquarters includes 16 working floors, for which FutureBrand designed three different layout styles Progressive, Modern and Formal which relate directly to the different ways staff and departments prefer to work, says Bretherton.

"On the formal floors, for example, spaces for individual tasks predominate, while on the progressive levels, open-plan spaces encourage collaboration."

Within the design scheme there are further degrees of individualisation. Graphic representations, inspired by the specific role of each department, work to create a sense of community and foster team spirit among the workforce relocated from all over the world.

One example can be seen in the Human Resources department on the 16th floor. With a modern layout, this floor is distinguished from the other five floors with the same scheme through the use of carefully tailored graphics, says Bretherton.

"HR represents everyone all the different faces and personalities who create Zain as a company. International symbols for people are subverted into witty characters dotting the walls, to celebrate both the individual and the staff as a whole. Meanwhile, other floors visually express their own intent."

To augment the FutureBrand design, a range of custom furniture and lighting was also commissioned.

The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the cabinetry, door, interior design, room, wall, red
The new Zain headquarters in Bahrain reflects the companies core values- Radiance, Heart, Belonging- in its design by UK based firm FutureBrand. Each floor has a unique graphic treatment.

"The logistical challenge involved in the importation of nearly £500,000 worth of bespoke furniture from the UK, lighting from six countries, additional furniture from the Far East and Europe, curved glass from Kuwait, smart glass from Northern Ireland and deep-pile rugs from Sweden, was one of the more rewarding roles within this project although at the time it caused us any number of issues," says Dickaty.

The result, says Bretherton, is a three-dimensional expression of the Zain brand, and of the company's values as well.

"Despite the potentially complicated nature of the project, the idea behind it is elegantly simple a tree. Not just any tree this is a family tree, gaining strength from individuals and channelling that into a common goal. Zain has so much momentum and energy right now, that I wanted to capture the attitude of all the employees driving this company forward."

It's a sentiment that is echoed by Zain CEO, Dr Saad Al Barrak.

"Fundamental to Zain's explosive success thus far is its people. Full of passion, full of spirit, full of optimism and full of life, our employees are the embodiment of Zain's values of Radiance, Heart and Belonging. This headquarters is for them and about them."

Dec 03, 2009

Credit list

Interior designers
FutureBrand London; DWP Bahrain
Civil engineer
DTEB Engineers
Quantity surveyor
BWS
Partitioning system
Faram Systems
Flooring
KP Flooring; Universal Flooring; Miliken Carpets
Workstations
Haworth from Vitra
Reception furniture
Tom Dixon; Minotti; Montis; Axel;
Kitchen equipment
Mareno; Ali
Lift services
Mitsubishi
Fit-out company
Kontra of M Jalal Contracting Company
Mechanical and electrical engineer
Yateem Air Conditioning;
Fire consultant
GEMAC Bahrain
Blinds
Euro Blinds
Lighting
Flos; Itre; Modular; Moooi; Regent
Office chairs
Vitra Orson C
Additional furniture
Eames from Vitra; Axel sofas; Aston; Antidiva; Minotti; Huber
Bathroom fittings
Kohler; Grohe
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