Office spaces have been on the tips of designers’ tongues for a few years now. With a whole lot of new research on productivity drivers and spreads on Google’s ultra-trendy California campus, everyone’s scrambling to strike the balance between cool and effective.
Our office started as a big open concrete room with the jackpot in windows, which was the main selling point for us. We all agreed that the space had something—a little soul, a lot of history, and infinite potential.
It took a while to decide what we really wanted to do with all this open space. We didn’t want cubicles or individual offices, but knew we needed to have a little separation and privacy for meetings and calls. To get started, we looked for inspiration wherever we could find it, and found that a little organization goes a long way.
1. The Office Pinterest.
Having a central dumping site for everything that caught our eye was a major help during our initial design process. It served as a place where we could find inspiration and work out what was possible with what we had to work with. And then we started to sketch, mock up, and try, try, and try again (which resulted in a record 28 trips to Home Depot within a month—we do not recommend).
We ultimately decided on an open plan with a semi-enclosed conference room that would have three walls (two sliding) and one open side facing a projector screen. We also included several different common areas for co-working and collaboration, like a coffee bar, couch areas, and big group tables.
Then we got to work.
2. Going all in.
When we started out, our main thought was that this was a space where we were going to be spending a significant amount of time. We wanted to make the most out of it by customizing and putting in the work to find solutions that worked uniquely for our group.
We worked with pros for the big stuff (walls, electrical) and committed to building as much as possible ourselves. We designed and built all our desks, the coffee bar, conference room doors, and did some of our network wiring. The office was covered in sawdust for weeks.
Keeping most of the office DIY was a great way to make sure we were getting the absolute best out of the existing space and that everything was designed to specifically suit our needs. There’s also an amazing sense of satisfaction—when we walk in the door every day, we know that we poured our whole selves into this.
Since we’re in such a historic area, we’ve drawn tons of inspiration from our surroundings. Bridgeport is a former industrial boomtown on the edge of a resurgence, and it’s been exciting to be at the center of the all the changes. We’ve incorporated handmade art and elements from our surroundings, bringing a little Bridgeport pride into the office.
3. We looked local.
Getting in touch with our community and surroundings helped us set down roots and give our space a unique flair.
We also really wanted to build sustainably, and create as little waste during our process as possible. We sold most of our old furniture to keep it from ending up in a landfill, and bought our new furniture from second hand shops and local artisans, searching out pieces that we could repurpose, like a flat file that we refurbished by painting and adding legs and a table top.
We used reclaimed wood for a lot of our projects, which we like because it adds warmth and never fails as a conversation starter with visitors and clients.
4. We brought the outside in.
Avoiding a box-like office was a priority, so we incorporated a lot of warm, natural elements to offset our concrete floor and exposed piping like raw wood tables and desks, a sunny accent wall (in yellow of course), and a few hardy plants that won’t mind if we forget to water them once in a while.
Plants may help make an office feel warmer, but having a truly welcoming environment comes down to having happy, motivated employees. We value work/life balance always, and focus on bringing fun into the office with weekly happy hours, impromptu office Frisbee, and occasional visits from our best girl, Parker.
5. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Make time for stress relief and office bonding—the products we make are so much better because of it. We used this mentality around the office too—you’ll often find Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers playing on the projector, or cheeky posters on the wall around the corner.
We have cornhole boards on the walls, pulling double duty as games and decor, and a kitchenette fully stocked with all our favorite vices for the 4pm slump.
We’re a little in love with our space. We worked hard to make it as unique to us and functional as possible, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.