Hedge fund's pirate-themed office has hidden door, but no plank
The pirate themed offices of John Bridgeman were designed by Apollo Property Group. Photo: Supplied

Hedge fund's pirate-themed office has hidden door, but no plank

When John Bridgeman took over the lease of a large office overlooking the Brisbane River, the hedge fund wanted to do something a bit different.

The Brisbane-based company thinks of itself as not like all the other teams of hedge fund managers around the world, and wanted its new office to reflect this, John Bridgeman director of capital and M&A Sam Elderfield says.

“In the hedge fund space, to set yourself apart from the rest is very difficult,” Mr Elderfield told Commercial Real Estate. “The industry sticks to the mainstream, but our trading style and personality is not very mainstream, so we wanted to reflect some of our differences to our competitors.”

The pirate themed offices of Hedge Fund John Bridgeman. Photo: Supplied The fit-out includes a secret door behind the map that leads in to the offices. Photo: Supplied

John Bridgeman was named after the 17th-century English pirate and the company enjoys comparing itself to the seafaring adventurers. They quickly realised that the new office provided an opportunity to take this to the next level.

“We wanted to make the office synonymous with our brand – all our companies are named after pirates for the fact that we are hedge fund managers and we trade all around the world,” Mr Elderfield said.

“Our affinity to history ties into the pirate theme as well. Pirates were notoriously opportunists and we are able to trade all around the world and profit from all the opportunities the markets present us globally.”

Mr Elderfield was quick to point out that he saw the company more resembling the “legal pirates” known as privateers, rather than the city-ruining rebel types.

The company brought in Apollo Property Group to fit out the pirate-themed office and transform it into an old-timely representation of life on the open sea. Furniture hand-picked from Ralph Lauren in the UK includes striped arm chairs and buttoned sofas, which complement treasure chests set against the dark wooden panels and dimming lights.

A lot of the interiors are stylish and subtle. Photo: Supplied A lot of the furniture in the offices were hand-picked from Ralph Lauren in the UK. Photo: Supplied

Large maps adorn the walls while the office even boasts an invisible door opened by a secret switch that leads clients from the reception area to the back of the office. But there’s no plank for employees to walk, no doubt to the relief of the HR department.

The office doesn’t fully embrace the lavish, gold-obsessed world of pirates entirely, Mr Elderfield said.

“We made sure that the space was built to the utmost luxury but at the same time was quiet, reserved and refined,” he said.

“The essence of the space is that it’s still very understated, it’s not grand or over the top. There are subtle themes with the pirate images but it’s very tranquil in some ways as well.”

And it’s not all just a novelty either, with the office also focusing on making things as comfortable as possible for clients and staff.

“Sam’s brief was that emphasis needed to be as much about the client experience as it did staff satisfaction, with 20 staff members enjoying at least 13 square metres each of workspace per person,” Apollo Property Group director Leon Bowes said. “In addition to the views, an enviable bar area will allow staff to relax with an after-work drink in luxury leather arm chairs.”

The reaction to the pirate-themed office has been “exceptional” from clients and staff, Mr Elderfield said.

“Everybody has been in awe of the space we’ve created.

“It certainly has raised some eyebrows and attention has been greater than if we had just went with a vanilla lion’s gate hedge fund.”

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