We Are 74’ are a Manchester-based practice, named Commercial Interior Design Practice of the Year at the 2019 Northern Design Awards, they offer clients a design-led, commercial approach and a thoroughly integrated mix of disciplines.

The Manchester-based architects and interior designers 74 have created the new 355sq m ground-floor social and study amenity space within The Toybox, a new-build, 15-storey student accommodation block by architects Corstorphine + Wright, located on Bishopsgate Street in Birmingham.

The Toybox, is a glazed, green brick and zinc-clad block in the Westside area of Birmingham.

The interior is comprised of 290 new student apartments, We are 74 were commissioned to create the dynamic series of communal spaces that make up the ground floor area, including a reception, lounge, study area, gaming area, kitchenette, staff welfare space, toilets and fitness suite.

The design concept for space was inspired by the location’s history and especially its industrial past, including the metalworking and the gold- and silver-smithing workshops Birmingham is famous for. Hinges, buttons, belt buckles and hooks are all examples of goods that were once considered “toys” and could be produced in metal, leather or glass, amongst others. The metalworking legacy still exists in the form of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter only a short walk away from the Toybox.

We drew on the concept of raw, industrial workshops and contrasted that with the decorative and ornate items produced that would have been produced there’, 74 Associate Bianca Yousef commented. ‘This manifested as exposed ceilings and wall treatments, plus tarnished metals and metal tubing, along with laser-cut and geometric patterns, dramatic feature lighting, button references and spindle detailing on the timber furniture.’

’74 demonstrated their usual design flair and attention to detail on this project, creating an engaging and inspiring scheme inspired by Birmingham’s history of manufacturing “toys”. They successfully combined relevant historic features with modernity to create what we think is now one of Birmingham’s leading PBSA schemes.’   Sadie Malim, Head of Special Projects and Legal, Moorfield Group

The Newmor design studio worked to the brief to reflect the celebrated crafts of Birmingham and colour palette set by We Are 74. At Newmor we have an onsite sampling colour kitchen and digital studio so the technicians could sample multiple geometric fretwork designs, colour options and scale variants for the project at the request of the interior designers.

The bold fretwork design was replicated throughout the ground floor space including reception desk, room separators, window films, light fittings and fixtures.