Words by Emily Martin
Architects Katerina Dionysopoulou and Billy Mavropoulos met while working at Foster + Partners and founded design studio Bureau de Change in 2012. Its portfolio features a mix of residential and commercial projects, including Made.com's new headquarters in Soho that opened this year.
Homemade residence is the practice's first completed project, in which two houses, awkwardly combined some years earlier, were opened out and extended to maximise space. A simple material palette of timber, white resin and glass sit alongside old floorboards, cornicing and London stock brickwork to accentuate the character of the original buildings.
'We are currently working on a theatre project in NYC, a new restaurant in a house built in 1860 on a Greek island, and we're just starting on site on a house in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, which we are super-excited about,' say Mavropoulos and Dionysopoulou, adding that there's plenty of work coming through. The duo also exhibited their first furniture range at this year's 100% Design.
Made.com headquarters re-evaluates the concept of a 'showroom' with the experience beginning outside by using the windows as a 'full-scale representation of the product in an intricate permanent installation'. Inside, a series of room sets display products, leading customers through a network of whitewashed walls, curved like the pages of a book.
After meeting at Foster + Partners, Mavropoulos and Dionysopoulou went their separate ways before setting up Bureau de Change together. 'Katerina went on to work for Thomas Heatherwick and I became a freelance design consultant doing projects for Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Selfridges and many more,' explains Mavropoulos.
Talkin' Heads hair salon is situated on a corner-plot in an Athenian shopping district. Glazing on two sides made typical wall-facing seating difficult, so the design explores the space as a small stage set. Split between the cutting floor (the stage) and mezzanine (back of house), a trio of inward-facing seats pair with a ceiling-hung mirror to provide a more communal, sociable experience.
'During that period we started discussing setting up our own practice following our experience in different design sectors, and when the right project came along we went for it.' The studio has expanded to a team of 10 and is currently working on some 12 projects.