Concealed behind the industrial doors of a repurposed factory building in the heart of China’s Pearl Delta, a camera shutter and a Chinese lantern collide mid-air to create a unique private office in the latest project from Timothy Oulton Studio. Hovering above the open workspace below, which doubles as a dramatic entertaining area, the floating timber lantern reinvents the idea of a classic CEO’s office into something whimsical, modern and inspiring.

Timber specialist and close collaborator San Kok Arts recently engaged Timothy Oulton Studio to design a show-stopping office and hosting space to showcase the company’s timber capabilities. In response, the warehouse has been transformed into a timber utopia filled with surprise and intrigue, and infused with the owner’s personality.

Visitors arrive to discover a pentagonal entrance door, where a puzzle must be solved to gain entry. An electric drawbridge opens into the cavernous main space, to reveal a suspended timber and polycarbonate structure forming the owner’s private office, an idea inspired by a traditional Chinese paper lantern. A motorised ocular door, inspired by a camera shutter mechanism, connects the office with a cylindrical meeting room and the other staff areas via a central metal and timber walkway and staircase.

The playful elements of the design are imbued with the owner’s effervescent character and humour, and the notion of putting her at the centre of the space. When the lights are on, shadow and movement can be seen within the office – a play on the owner being visibly present yet at the same time in her private space.

Underneath the lantern structure, a meeting and dining area features a 15 metre reclaimed timber table, handcrafted from accumulated workshop samples gathered over years and now forming a historical mosaic. The table can accommodate dining for up to fifty guests, with additional entertaining areas focused around a salvaged log beam bar configured with Japanese 3-way joints and a backdrop of undulating reclaimed local bricks.

Every inch of the space has been designed as a living example of San Kok’s collaborative work ethos and artisanal skills with reclaimed timbers. It is the very heart and soul of the company that has been reflected in the unique design and architecture.