Recruitment firm Search Consultancy wished their new office in Manchester to be the most impressive of all their 15 UK workplaces and wanted it to reflect their status as a major player in UK recruitment.

The interior space planning, design and fit-out of this new 14,250 sqft office is now complete, and Search UK is so impressed with their new Manchester home that they’ve made a short time-lapse film of the work being carried out and have placed it on their website. You can see this here

When their Manchester lease came up for renewal in 2019, Search approached Ben Johnson Interiors to help them look at building options in the city centre. In part, the Corner Block in Quay Street was chosen for its unusual architecture, quirky qualities and exposed services – but although very attractive, this in itself created challenges for the experienced interior design team.

As well as 1-2-1 meeting rooms, open plan office accommodation, a large flexible training room and a self-contained breakout area on both floors, the management at Search were keen to include additional collaborative breakout spaces including informal seating, high back booths and scrum areas to offer relaxed, impromptu meeting areas for their staff and visitors.

This was a departure from the usual Search workplaces and so Ben Johnson Interiors arranged to take the clients’ facilities teams to some of the top London office design showrooms to help them decide on the latest styles in office furniture.

Corner Block, Quay Street, Manchester is the first of Search’s offices to have exposed ceilings and columns and so has a contemporary, industrial feel, but this style in an open office can sometimes cause problems with echoing and acoustics. To compound this, management were also keen to have practical, easy-to-clean concrete vinyl flooring, rather than carpet. However, hard flooring also causes further noise issues.

As a solution, Ben Johnson Interiors suggested using Flutex flooring which is a carpet/vinyl hybrid, offering a concrete finish look but with the softer, acoustic properties of carpet and the resilience of vinyl.

High specification, acoustic glass partitioning between areas and some meeting rooms was also installed to minimise noise, introduce natural light and convey an open, transparent feel to the interior. Another departure from Search’s previous office layouts has been the introduction of staff lockers to facilitate a shift to a more agile, flexible culture.

A further challenge for the design and installation team was that Corner Block has a perimeter air conditioning system which must be accessible at all times for servicing requirements. Flexibility had to be included into the design so that the air conditioning access doors on the perimeter walls were clear of furniture or could easily be cleared. The building also had perimeter power. This would usually be relatively easy to accommodate in an open plan office but with numerous individual interview rooms, the system had to be modified to provide heating and cooling to each room.

As its Northern “flagship” office, Search was keen to add a further “wow” factor to this new workplace and so Ben Johnson Interiors installed an eye-catching, white reception desk complete with integrated Search logo and a feature wrought iron back panel.

Debbie Caswell, Chief Operating Officer at Search said: “Providing a flagship location for our business, we desired an office environment that provided a modern and light workspace, also supporting collaboration across all our teams. Our employees are delighted with the investment in the premises and Ben Johnson really did meet our brief for creating a space we could all be proud of, and one aligned to our business culture.”

Emma Dodsley, Marketing Director at Ben Johnson Interiors says: “We have designed and installed workplaces for Search for many years.  On this occasion, our design and installation teams worked closely with Search to offer practical workplace interiors advice and new products that we knew would ideally suit the brief for this flagship office, but which initially may have challenged perceptions. However, we’re pleased to say that this new Manchester office, designed for 2020 and beyond, is a bit hit – both in terms of aesthetics and practicality. Its presence and style have firmly positioned Search as a frontrunner in UK recruitment.”

If you’d like to know more about Ben Johnson Interiors, please visit