Yellow is uplifting and energising but it could tip the scale for the worse when used without restraint or if applied in a slightly different hue. At Carsome’s headquarters in Menara KYM in Petaling Jaya, the happy shade is used generously in a befitting tribute to its corporate identity.
When you enter the reception area on Level 16, through a yellow framed door with steering wheel handles no less, you are immediately struck by the congruence of the colour scheme, design philosophy and brand ethos of the Malaysian automotive unicorn. The request was straightforward. They wanted an industrial space with a balanced use of its brand colour and the inclusion of workshop elements to bring a touch of realism to the space.
Jarsche Design Studio, under the helm of 30-year-old Jason Chen, took up the brief with great fervour. He was the driving force for the entire refurbishment at Carsome’s two main office floors, on Level 15 and 16. His muse was an auto accessories and spare parts outlet he had visited because he was well aware that Carsome not only sells vehicles but also performs various inspections and evaluations on automotive spare parts.
The inspiration was channelled into customising the furniture and walls of the office. The concierge desk itself looks like a deconstructed vehicle, the table is flanked by a caged wheel at each end. “The reception area can affect your business and you want to make a good first impression when people walk in because it will drive the whole journey at the office. Wheels also signify movement,” says Chen, explaining his design concept.
The office area behind the reception is in plain view, courtesy of a large metal mesh partition that drives home the open-plan office concept. The same metal structure appears sparingly around the office, to split up the different seating areas, and at times against the wall in different rooms. The carpets at the workstation are in the shade of asphalt and fringed by double yellow lines.
At the lounges around the office, one would find coffee tables made from car spare parts and the steampunk vibe is unmissable. “It is very easy to buy ready-made furniture and fit it into an interior but we wanted to make it exclusive, we wanted it to be a talking point. I went around a few shops searching for an engine block to make a table and then I had to ensure it was fabricated according to my vision for the space,” says Chen. Custom-made tables with Carsome logos are aplenty.
Walking through the two main office floors sprawled across 22,000 sq ft, one would also notice a feature wall constructed of auto spare parts. It is in line with Chen’s vision to reduce, reuse and recycle. In one of the meeting rooms, his very own handiwork made of a zinc roof sheet covers the entire wall of one of the meeting rooms.
One of the most challenging features he worked on was a wall of motivational quotes. But after all the trouble and last-minute rush to have it constructed, it turned out to be a design composition that will definitely grab your attention with sayings such as, “Yesterday’s best is today’s baseline” and “Stay grounded”.
Chen focuses on practicality first, followed by aesthetics. It was important to have a sound layout to seat about 140 employees on each floor plus the different nooks where they can congregate for work or play. There was a huge emphasis on comfortable chairs and benches because a company’s productivity can be affected if comfort is not prioritised.
The meeting rooms are named according to countries and cities Carsome has a presence in — Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangkok, Manila and China — and they are designed to let the creative juices flow. The largest discussion room is emblazoned with “the engine room” in neon lights, for obvious reasons.
The design process took about two weeks while the renovation was carried out over two months and completed in May last year.
Occupying four floors of Menara KYM, Carsome’s work area extends to Level 8 and 9 at the Colony co-working space, which imbues the Wes Anderson theme replete with cherry-red carpets, pink walls, floral wallpaper, glittering chandeliers and velvet pink finishing. Now, that’s a story for another day.
Rarely do we see the generous use of the happy colour in an office space but this designer was committed to delivering outstanding results, and he surely did. Yellow sure brings the sunshine to Carsome.
This article first appeared in issue No. 108, Summer 2023 of Haven.