Workbook: Bringing Home to Work

Studio O+A’s design for Zazzle’s headquarters emphasizes multi-functional spaces and unexpected design touches. Photo by Jasper Sanidad/Courtesy Studio O+A.

We talk a lot about the new look of offices—open-plan, flooded with natural light, multi-use spaces. Often, though, designers and architects don’t take that idea to the next level, instead creating spaces that still very much retain the old aesthetic  that leans toward the institutional and bland. For a recent project by Studio O+A, a San Francisco–based interior design studio, the team pushed the envelope, creating offices for the online firm Zazzle in Redwood City, California, that are lively and inviting.

“They wanted something that would not just look great, but be well made,” explains Denise Cherry, a principal and the director of design at the firm. “They really viewed the space as their home.” As such, the furnishings and finishes speak a more residential language. Bold-patterned wallpaper covers some offices, while furniture choices run the gamut from classic Eames office chairs to Shaker-inspired pieces produced locally. There’s even a curvy couch paired with a funky upholstered ottoman and London-style phone booths pop up around the space. “It’s more curated instead of just pulling of pieces from same manufacturer,” says senior design Elizabeth Guerrero.

Though walls are few and far between, the designers created an ingenious method of marking spaces, using floor and ceiling transitions. In practice, it means that concrete defines circulation paths and the break room; cork designates the communal zones; and offices and conference rooms are carpeted. The break room is further set apart, visually, by its ceiling, which is covered in ceramic tile. Cherry notes, though, “the nicest spaces are the communal ones.”

One of the most delightful multi-use spaces has to be the game room/conference room. With game nights a part of the company’s culture, the designers created a space for them. Since they only happen once a week, the space doubles as a conference room, with walls that can be brought down for privacy—business meetings can be conducted from the comfort of leather armchairs arranged around a poker table.

“We never went too far but had fun with things,” says Cherry. “This was the space they always wanted.”

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