Q&A: Fora’s Katrina Larkin 17.05.17

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The co-founder of the London workspace company tells us what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Co-working spaces and serviced offices are ubiquitous in London. What make you different?

Fora was founded by global hotel management executive Enrico Sanna, who managed high-end hospitality at Deutsche Bank, and myself – I co-founded the music and arts festival The Big Chill. Our aim has been to reimagine the office experience by employing premium hotel-style service and design, using up-to-the-minute, innovative technology. We have collaborated with industry-leading partners to develop design principles, which accommodate all working styles under one roof – enabling individual productivity at the same time. Essentially, we treat our residents with respect so that they feel genuine ownership of all our spaces. And it’s working. We welcome new companies every week who say they enjoy the ambiance and freedom offered by the design.

What kind of businesses are you trying to reach? Who is already based at Fora?

Throughout my career, I have sought to elevate people’s experience of leisure time, opening their minds to new expectations. I believe that people are crying out for the same kind of creativity and innovation in the workplace. For that reason, we are open to anyone seeking a well-designed, professional space in which to develop their business. We throw in curated networking opportunities, masterclasses and high-profile talks to help them. It is very much a ‘suits and t-shirt’ approach here; be professional but be creative.

You are home to many different types of business – how do you accommodate their varied needs?

Fora’s approach is to encompass everything from the physical design of the space to the curation of people and their experiences. We have legal teams sitting near music managers, charity fundraisers next to research bodies, so we build and unite the community through diversity. Our Concierge team looks after everyone – we take care of the nitty gritty of office organisation, leaving businesses to concentrate on growing. Our breakout spaces allow people to work away from their main office; there are numerous places to sit, meet, mingle, eat and freshen up. A change is as good as a rest, after all.

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What are your plans for the future? It seems you are looking to expand with several other spaces.

Enrico has always maintained that modern offices have been stuck in the last century and that people are now crying out for the Fora approach, which he’s modelled on the basic principles of customer experience that exists in the world of premium hotels. We’re now on a mission to open numerous sites. Two will open later this year – one in Clerkenwell and one in Portobello – with venues in Brick Lane, London Bridge, Kentish Town, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green to follow.

This will be your first year participating in Clerkenwell Design Week. What have you got planned?

We’re thrilled to be hosting a programme of events and talks called
‘A Space to be Brilliant’, in association with Stirling Ackroyd. Over a three-day period, Fora will host some brilliant names from design, architecture, journalism and culture, who will offer insight into the importance of design within the workspace market. The series kicks off with an invite-only event on Monday 22 May featuring Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr. On Tuesday, I will discuss ‘The Future of the Workspace’, debating the popularity of flexible workspaces and explaining the role of high-end design within Fora’s spaces. We will host talks by Shape London, award-winning Scandinavian chair designers Isomi, and Helen Parton, editor of OnOffice magazine. Thursday starts with a speed networking breakfast, then Jan Levy from Three Hands will discuss what we can learn from charities, and finally, Palatino’s chef Stevie Parle will host a Q&A on restaurant design. All of us at Fora are excited to be part of this key event for the design industry and we’re looking forward to working together towards an innovative and exciting future in work spaces.

Fora’s event series, ‘A Space to be Brilliant’, runs from 23 to 25 May. Click here to reserve your free space. 

Learn more about Fora at foraspace.com

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