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Westspace Gallery Reception Desk, Melbourne

A front of house re-work features a reconfigurable desk and display unit that echoes the striking herringbone floor.

  • Client Brief

    West Space, an independent arts organisation, is one of Melbourne’s foremost contemporary art spaces. As part of its development, West Space approached Workshop Architecture to work with them on re-imagining their front of house and bookshop to provide a meeting area that could double as a flexible working space for artists.

    The centerpiece of this transformation is a new front desk. Operating as a reception and as a bar during openings, this desk needed to be relocatable, to connect or separate, in different combinations, the entry, gallery and flexible meeting space.

    Design Response

    Workshop Architecture’s response was to use the dominant geometry of the gallery, its signature herringbone floor, as a formal system that allows the two part desk and display unit to be reconfigured in a number of different arrangements, each with a different spatial effect.

    The two- way zig-zag pattern of the floor gives rise to a similar combination in the desk units, which provides sharp or subtle, internal and external, corner combinations as well as a linear arrangement for use as a bar. The use of the herringbone serves a double purpose, providing a strong physical presence that is strongly connected to the gallery space, suppressing the commonly seen featurism of such desks. This was important for an object that will always need to be less prominent than those created by the exhibiting artists.

    The primary element in the desk is the folded aluminium front panels, a complexity balanced by simple formply framing and off the shelf filing cabinetry. 

  • Characteristics

    Key values

    • Single visual and configuration system
    • Clear, simple concept related to location
    • Flexibility and variety
    • Simple, logical construction system
    • Visually strong but not overwhelming exhibited work

    Key materials

    • Custom extruded and laser cut custom folded aluminium
    • Natural and colour anodising
    • Film face plywood (formply)
    • Ikea filing unit
    • Richmond Wheels castors
  • Specifications

    Core deliverables

    • Concept plan for front of house and desk
    • Documentation for fabrication of desk
    • Fabrication of timber elements

    Services Provided

    • Concept Design
    • Construction Documentation
    • Pricing
    • Fabrication
    • Installation supervision


    Workshop Architecture


    Project Team: Simon Whibley, Bahman Andalib, Piran Reitze, Aaron Robinson


    West Space

    Date completed

    Concept Design


    Melbourne CBD

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