The Downtown United Soccer Club was a nomadic bunch for a while. Without a permanent home, the group that organizes soccer teams in and around New York City would get together on the field after a match or head to the nearest pub or coffee shop.
And for staff meetings?
“We met weekly at Mr. Dennehy’s bar,” jokes Tom Frambach, the club’s general manager.
But to accommodate its growing staff, the club recently moved into a six-person office in WeWork Soho West. It’s the first time they’ve ever had a space of their own, and they admit that they’re not the most design minded. Besides desks and chairs, the only bit of decoration is—of course—a soccer ball.
The self-described “bunch of jocks” knows they want a big-screen TV, and something to sit on while they watch it. Maybe even get a foosball table. But the rest is daunting.
Lots of people moving into new offices can relate, especially when they’re trying to make sure their space represents their brand and reflects their personality. We asked several interior designers for tips on how to make your work office space pop.
How do you use your office?
Most WeWork members start out with a glass-encased office space that’s frosted halfway up to create privacy, yet let in lots of light. Each room comes with desks, chairs, and filing cabinets. From there, each company decides how to personalize the space.
The first thing that Frambach and his team should ask themselves is how they’re going to use the space. That will determine how they decorate it, says Jessica Vessell, WeWork design project manager.
“Do you all want to work at a desk?” Vessell asks. “If you think of this as a retreat away from the soccer field, maybe you want to relax in lounge chairs. What would make you excited to go to work every day? Design the space in a way that works for you versus designing it in a way to showcase your brand as a storefront.”
Having no white walls helps, Vessell says, because it allows you to get creative and add some warm materials that make your office feel like home.
“It’s all about having unique furniture,” Vessell says. “If you have something that’s solid and stays below the privacy vinyl so you still maintain your line of sight, that’s perfect.”
If your office has a TV blaring and phones constantly ringing, carpet squares can help absorb the sound that bounces around the room. If you want to bring some extra flare to your office, find a shaggy rug that provides a balance between functional and eclectic.
Kristina Rinaldi, interior designer at Rinaldi Designs, says making your space personal is important because you often spend more time at the office than at home.
“You want to create a space that represents you,” says Rinaldi, a WeWork Soho West member. “I have a huge piece of furniture—a big cabinet custom made from a lacquered piece of wood—a bright blue rug, and beautiful hooks I bought in Copenhagen. If you’re trying to conjure up business, there’s an appeal to making it a bit more personal.”
Her other piece of advice for new WeWork members? Remember that your office and everything in it is always on display.
“Make sure it’s neat and orderly,” she says, “because it’s all glass and everybody can see your stuff.”
What motivates you to go to work every day?
How do you make sure all these elements blend together? Jeremiah Britton, WeWork art director, says take a look at your logo.
Say your company’s logo is black and white. You may decide to invest in a nice looking zebra-striped couch, but then bring in a handcrafted coffee table that you found on the street.
Once you have the basics, Britton says to liven things up with something colorful, whether it’s throw pillows or posters.
“You don’t need to spend that much,” Britton says. “They have $15 silkscreen prints on Etsy.”
For the sporty types like the guys at the Downtown United Soccer Club, Britton says they should add photos of their college rec leagues or jerseys from their favorite teams. That will give the space a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
How branded do you want your office to feel?
Another couple of questions for the soccer guys: Do they want the office to feel like it’s heavily branded with their logo? Or do they want it to be a cool place where jocks hang out?
The designers that we spoke to said that most companies tend to soft-pedal the branding.
“If the brand is in your face, that means you’re trying too hard,” says Aubrey Jason Grant, managing partner at Emotive Architecture. “You want to pique curiosity. You want people to stop by and say, ‘What’s going on here?’ Things that could pique the brand for us is hanging images of our works on the wall and also putting a couch or an ottoman.”
When designing your space, it’s all about what the mood of your brand is and what response you want to evoke as people walk by your door. Vessell says whether you’re going for the modern or tech vibe versus fashionable and chic, you can instantly make your space “funky and cool with the help of a bookshelf” and even changing the lighting.
“Put shelving that represents who you are,” Vessell says. “Bring books you want to display. Or change the lighting. All WeWork members have access to natural light, but get a large floor lamp. It’s more about who you are and how you want to reflect that.”
Photo credit: Lauren Kallen