FROM NIGHTINGALES TO KNIGHTSBRIDGE: J. Walter Thompson left Berkeley Square for Knightsbridge amid mingled excitement and scepticism from its staff. Jeremy White on what it's like to work in the new office

As you walk into the new J. Walter Thompson reception, your first reaction is to walk straight out again and check you have the correct building.

JWT's famous office at 40 Berkeley Square may have held nearly 60 years of history for the agency but, unfortunately, it looked like it as well.

In fact, by way of a demonstration of the state of disrepair number 40 was in, now JWT has shipped out,they are scheduled for demolition.

Those who had the dubious pleasure of seeing inside the Berkeley Square office would have trouble matching that impression with the swanky refurbished halls of Knightsbridge Green (80,000sq ft of office space compared with 64,000 in Berkeley Square). Gone is the dour 80s black and now the reception soothes the eye with stylish brushed chrome and comforting wood panels.

After a year as the chief executive of JWT London, Simon Bolton's chief motivation for the new trendy setting for the agency was to engender creativity.

"It feels creative. There has to be a sense of inspiration, Bolton says.

But this stimulation of creativity isn't just from a change of address and lick of paint. The overall design by the architects, DEGW, has a lot to do with bringing about a new style of working.

To encourage integration, JWT has ditched the traditional creative department.

Now creatives sit with account handlers and planners in "client hubs".

The thinking being that proximity of creatives will rub off on the planners and account handlers - and vice versa, of course.

The managing director, Ros King, explains some of the advantages of the new layout: "We have spaces at tables for clients. As different clients come in, we can also reconfigure the layouts to suit. We have had to make macro decisions about working practices to what door handles do we want and what colour waste bins."

This leads us neatly to the one snag regarding the new HQ. The carpet.

The bar is welcoming, as is the new coffee shop; the roof garden terrace is impressive, ditto to the knowledge centre set up behind reception. The carpet, unfortunately, is hideous - one staffer described it to Campaign as DHSS circa 1979.

The uncool ghost of Berkeley Square will not be exorcised without a fight.

"A lot of our old image used to be about being old-fashioned and fusty. Now we don't look like that anymore. Things aren't broken, they work and look modern and contemporary - a metaphor for where the brand is going," King concludes.

Bolton confides they've lost the dodgy loos but not the nightingale.

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP's group chief executive, presented the agency with a stuffed nightingale when they left.

Some things, like the carpet it would seem, don't change.

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