New concept of stylish workplaces in trendy area

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 October, 2008, 12:00am

Shaded by the occasional ancient banyan tree amid traditional Chinese antique shops, modern art and furniture galleries and trendy bistros, West of Hollywood Road (WoHo) looks down on the corporate towers of Central from a chic distance.

Perched above the madding crowd of high finance with an air of cultured style and calm, the neighbourhood is never likely to attract business moguls and conglomerates. It is just not sufficiently grade A.

But for more creative and artistic enterprises, like design and fashion houses, WoHo is a relaxed and more affordable option for setting up an office.

Meeting this demand in the heart of the hip lifestyle melting pot is izi Central, a new concept in innovative and stylish offices at 151 Hollywood Road.

Serviced '24/7', it is an extension of the home2home serviced apartment brand - and shares many of the same highly personalised, avant-garde concepts.

Branded under the slogan 'Where culture meets commerce', this new breed of fully serviced designer workspaces challenges familiar offices as a 'total reinvention of serviced work spaces', according to home2home founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala.

'There is a definite niche for high quality, individualised work space from discerning, elite professionals,' he said. 'We recognise that entrepreneurs and start-ups are looking for creative, design-led spaces and, most importantly, inspiration. That's what we offer. We've spotted a gap in the market for dynamic work space that is more flexible than the traditional serviced office model.'

Izi offers options of 700 or 1,400 sqft that are fully customisable with flexible layouts, complete with bespoke fittings. The idea is to allow 'intuitive, personalised' work space solutions and the ergonomics of each unit are designed to create a 'stimulating and energising' work environment.

'No two businesses and their needs are the same, so each unit can be customised, allowing tenants to make best use of the space,' said Mr Jhunjhnuwala.

Rather than sharing a floor with many other companies, tenants enjoy a high degree of privacy with only one or two units on each floor.

The design by award-winning architectural firm KplusK incorporates state-of-the-art technology and connectivity solutions, appealing to 'high-end, forward thinking' businesses and companies.

The fully self-sufficient work space has round-the-clock access for those who either need or prefer to work late. Even the coffee lounge is open 24/7.

In keeping with modern sensitivities, natural and eco-friendly design elements are also incorporated, and tenancies are as flexible as the office space.

Tenants include graphic designers, architects, IT solutions and lifestyle outfits in travel and fashion companies, and contracts are for as little as one month.

Space can be rented out for special functions such as private wine tastings. The space is also particularly suited to overseas companies starting operations in Hong Kong, as part of the service includes helping newcomers set up and register their businesses.

Because tenancies are so flexible, companies temporarily needing more space can establish secondary offices, with seamless technological connectivity to main offices.

Recognising the need for high quality and convenient storage, two floors are dedicated to vaults that can be rented to store important documents and possessions. 'Some just want to unclutter their lives, giving them more breathing space to think and create,' Mr Jhunjhnuwala said.

Storage areas range from 47 to 65 sqft, and include humidity and temperature controlled options.

While dressing itself up with an 'art and design' focus, the plan is for the first and second floors to be an art gallery or exhibition area, enabling some enterprises to develop their art and showcase it in the same location.

As part of that community cultural mission, izi supports two new up-and-coming artists with free workshops.

'Our cultural leanings appeal to designers and creative companies who are open to artistic ideas,' said Mr Jhunjhnuwala.

Although it only opened six months ago, occupancy has already reached 75 per cent.

This is partly due to competitive rents starting from HK$25,000 a month for 700 sqft to HK$45,000 a month for 1,400 sqft, all inclusive with no hidden charges. The rate at HK$35 per sqft for 700 sqft and HK$32 per sqft for larger units compares to average costs in Wan Chai of HK$50 per sq ft, HK$55 in Causeway Bay, HK$90 in Admiralty and HK$200 in Central.

One tenant said: 'Staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The office unit is spacious and self contained with good facilities. The atmosphere is excellent and so is the neighbourhood.'

While the location is not officially in Hong Kong's central business district, it is only a stroll uphill from it, just minutes from the MTR and Mid-Levels escalator.

Across the road from the famous Man Mo Temple and a couple of minutes' walk from lively Lan Kwai Fong, it also neighbours the eclectic Press Room delicatessen and trendy nightclubs.