Creating Destination Spaces with Mews

A look at how British architectural history influenced the design approach behind

the Mews pod collection, with our Head of Pods, Ben Mitchell

Although Mews pods by Boss Design have a contemporary feel and function, part of the design thinking behind them goes back centuries, deep into British architectural tradition.

The word ‘mews’ first appeared written down in 1537 when Henry VIII’s Bloomsbury Royal Mews burned down. Mews buildings were stables in those days and in the 17th and 18th centuries were built behind great houses and famous terraces all over Britain to accommodate horses, coaches, carriages and the people who tended them.

How mews were used evolved over time and they became quarters for those serving in the big houses, with kitchens, laundries and workshops. During the 19th century many mews were converted to become private homes and businesses. Dressmaking, weaving, joinery and many other trades grew ad hoc in the mews sitting between the architectural landmarks of each city.

In many ways, mews as an architectural form represents adaptability, cohesion and productivity, in a compact format which enabled British cities to grow and develop according to changing requirements in the economy. Mews pods were designed to bring these qualities into workspaces simply and effectively, comfortably furnished and finished to entice people back to the workplace.

Clear Art Deco roots

In its glazing, Mews makes another nod to Britain’s architectural heritage. The black, geometric forms hark back to the steel framed windows popular from World War I until the 1950s. The development of slim joints strong enough to hold larger but thinner panes of glass enabled architects to flood their interiors with natural light and Art Deco was born, bringing a new aesthetic to cities in the UK and around the world.

The grid that forms the Mews pod’s front elevation comes from this tradition and is part of the concept behind the product. When it was first introduced, the Mews collection consisted of three pods, each with the same footprint but with different functionality. With pods for video conferencing, private and open informal meetings, the proposition has a clear purpose and is easy to specify.

While internally offering this functionality, externally Mews is used as an architectural intervention to define workplace interiors without resorting to the expense of hard construction. Recognising our customers’ desire to maximize square footage, we further developed the collection to include modules with a smaller footprint. Dial and Brief provide further building blocks for the specifiers to shape schemes, at roughly one-third and two-thirds the original width respectively.

Character building

Britain’s architectural heritage wasn’t the only source of inspiration for Mews. Boss Design has an established track record designing pods, seating and tables for commercial and hospitality settings to draw upon. The character of Mews as a finished piece is very much defined by our intention to create destination spaces. From top to bottom, Mews features include air circulation, acoustic upholstered ceiling, low glare lighting, clear or privacy glazing, fabric wall panels, curtaining, floor tiles and a levelling plinth, with worktable and upholstered seating options dependent on the unit specified.

Using color, fabric, texture and lighting combinations, the specifier can put the finishing touches to a space that looks and feels comfortable, which people will want to inhabit. The user and their comfort has been considered at every level. For example, the Focus and Brief settings are designed for video conferencing with lighting optimized for this function. Light reflected by the fabric wall the user faces during a call enhances their appearance to the colleagues and clients they connect with.

These little considerations put the user in a good frame of mind, while at the same time the Mews pod shapes the ambiance of the space around it. As an architectural form, mews quickly became more than just a stable; likewise, in commercial furniture, Mews is more than just a pod. It’s a straightforward way of creating destination spaces.