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  • Meet the Designers – Jose Mercado

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  • Introducing the creatives behind award-winning office design company, Oktra.

    We’re transforming the way people work by creating spaces that inspire people to do amazing things. The 170 members of our professional teams are experts in working environments – they know what it takes to create an effective workplace. So, we decided to find out more about the way they work.

    We sat down with each of our Design Directors to figure out what makes them tick.

  • Jose Mercado

    Jose came to Oktra with a unique blend of architectural and advertising experience. He’s completed 3 million sq ft of project space across the UK, Asia and India – and that’s after having founded and sold his own advertising agency.

    As for design and build, there’s a science and an art to it, he says. When asked to distil his design process down to three words, Jose chooses listen, think then create. He explains that it’s important to gather information through research and a thorough brief-taking process, either formally or informally. Good design, especially for workplace, is achieved when you have completely understood everything about the project.

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  • Q: What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a designer?
    A: I was 5 years old when I knew that I would follow in my father’s footsteps. He was a well-respected architect in the Philippines and I was the only one in my family out of five siblings who knew how to draw. My father picked up on this and got me a private tutor in fine art painting when I was 12 years old. This helped me a lot when I finally went to get my degree in Architecture. My contemporaries called me the “3 Minute Wonder” as I drew perspectives in 3 minutes tops.

    Q: What do you prefer – a pencil or drawing on a computer?
    A: Pencil. I’m old school. Unfortunately, the art of drawing is slowly disappearing as everyone is so crippled by the use of technology.

    Q: What’s your personal definition of design?
    A: It’s an artform that influences behaviour and emotion. It is a synergy of art and science which influences our daily lives. Look around, everything that surrounds us is a piece of design in whatever form.

    Q: Where do you think workspace design is headed?
    A: Workspace design, very much like Retail design, is going to evolve quickly due to technology, social media and the changing real estate market. People are now so connected via technology that being in the same room is not as necessary as before. However, there is a return to the humanisation of spaces. There is still a longing for physical contact. There needs to be more focus on experience in the spaces we design; workspaces need to evolve and provide these new experiences to keep the workforce interested, productive and present.

    Q: Tell us about your favourite project – how has the new office inspired your client to do amazing things?
    A: My client’s brief was to redesign their offices as they suffered from 16% attrition and they struggled in attracting the best talent. I completely turned it all around, cut a whole slab and created a staircase that connected two floors and gave them a large front of house, social and collaboration space that resulted in cutting their attrition rate in half after six months of completion. I love going back to that space and seeing how much I have affected so many people’s lives for the better. That is what design is about.

    Q: Tell us about what is on your desk.
    A: My two favourite things: food and erasable pens!


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