Second Home is reinventing office life. Is yours next? Step inside its world of vintage chairs, froth insulation and zig-zagging walkways
A wall of transparent plastic has been stretched across the gap between two mews houses. It’s a bit steamed up but, as I peer inside this makeshift structure, I can make out the tips of spiky leaves, just visible through what seems to be a cloud of frothing white bubbles. It looks like someone’s having a foam party in an illicit backstreet cannabis farm, but this is actually the latest outpost of a company determined to make going to work not just another day in the office.
“We always want people to think ‘What’s that?’ and be drawn inside our buildings,” says Rohan Silva, the 37-year-old co-founder of Second Home, provider of “unique workspaces and cultural venues for entrepreneurs and innovators”. The company opened its first space in Spitalfields, east London, in 2014 and now boasts users ranging from tiny tech startups to the likes of Volkswagen and auditing giant KPMG.
Since that start, Second Home has raised £40m from investors, opened a bookshop across the street, launched a second branch in Lisbon and has several more on the way, including a spectacular complex of amoebic studio pavilions set in a tropical garden in Los Angeles. “So much of the built environment is bland and generic, particularly offices,” says co-founder Sam Aldenton, who in Dalston in 2005 launched one of London’s first co-working spaces, complete with rooftop allotment garden. “We have a responsibility to do something different.”