It's one of the coolest record labels on the planet with artists including Katy Perry and Coldplay on the books, but EMI's Sydney office was once so drab its rock star clients couldn't wait to get away.
According to the EMI chairman Mark Poston, the label's former premises at Cremorne were "clunky and old with a mid-nineties nautical theme".
"It was very un-record-company like," agrees EMI executive assistant Leah Harris.
So the company embarked on an 18-month project to relocate to an updated, modern office space in the trendy inner-city suburb of Surry Hills.
The end product is exactly what it was designed to be – a honey-trap for rock stars, as well as a really awesome place to work.
The record label's new headquarters recently made the 2012 Australian Interior Design Awards shortlist, thanks to an edgy concept by The World is Round.
Mr Poston said it was all part of the process of making music happen.
"It’s really great to have a space come together the way we have. It becomes like a secret world, like the Gorillaz world, or crazy and mystical like Empire of the Sun," Poston said.
"I just love music so much and thought it would be great to have people walk past and say, ‘Oh that’s EMI’."
As far as the culture goes, there are a few hard and fast rules that separate EMI from other businesses.
A no-eating-at-desk policy means the kitchen has become the hub it was designed to be — and flanked by a balcony barbecue area, it’s not hard to see why.
The open-door policy actually means most meeting rooms don’t have doors and some don’t even have walls.
Meeting spaces are eclectic, ranging from couch nooks to board rooms, and are named after EMI’s long list of celebrity artists.
Hanging out in the suspended ‘egg chairs’, another informal meeting place, Harris told ninemsn the company vibe has flourished since the relocation in 2010.
"Now we get artists coming through quite often, they enjoy hanging out here … they can also interact with the staff, be a part of the team."
Artists will happily visit to play a set, talk about their albums or be presented with their awards and after-hours staff are happy to reciprocate by frequenting Sydney gigs.
An extracurricular feature of the new offices is the art program.
With unpractical main street location, EMI’s entrance was shifted to the back and the front facade of the premises reserved for showcasing works by local talent.
"It is a free space for emerging artists and it’s kind of our way of giving back to the community," Ms Harris said.
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