A Manhattan Office Renovation Expands Working Space
An office renovation in Manhattan helped this tech brand update a full floor while modernizing their workspace
“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten
- Project: A tech brand expands office space in its NYC headquarters
- Location: Manhattan, New York
- Sweeten general contractor
- Interview with Piper Skillman for Chapter Interiors
- Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering guidance, tools, and support—for free..
Sweeten: How did you and your client come together?
Piper: Packet sought an interior design agency to align its growing office space in Lower Manhattan with its dynamic, emerging brand. Packet’s co-founder and CMO, Jacob Smith, reached out to another one of our tech clients (White Ops, who is also a customer of Packet) for a referral, and after noting our work there, gave us a call.
Sweeten: What is the client’s brand?
Piper: Packet creates the high-touch aspect of high-tech — making cloud infrastructure more delightful to consume for the top digital businesses in the world. Clients, partners, and employees needed to experience the brand the moment they entered the office and throughout their journey in the space.
Sweeten: What led to the opening of this new office space?
Piper: The tech company, which was founded in 2014, had recently doubled its staff and was planning on another year of team growth. While the company is about 70% remote, NYC is its headquarters and one of its global “hubs” where the team gathers regularly. When another floor in the building they occupy became available, Packet immediately grabbed it.
Sweeten: How do your new design and the materials used to represent your brand?
Piper: The brand colors dictated our palette but it was important for us as designers to go beyond an easy and obvious link. It was essential to convey their brand experience throughout the space.
When selecting materials for their Manhattan office renovation, the sense of tangible authenticity—a certain “human-ness”—guided our choices. We opted for wood floors with character, felt walls, linoleum work surfaces, and a special dyed-through MDF that you leave exposed (as opposed to painting.) In addition to tactile fabrics, patterns that reference those seen in their cloud data centers further connected the space to the physical aspects of the product and brand.
In terms of space planning, Chapter Interiors strived for activity-based workplace design. Instead of asking the person to adjust to the space; we investigate how clients work and build spaces to suit. This results in an array of environments for employees—spaces that facilitate certain aspects of work and help optimize performance. An example was helping Packet design for different types of work (e.g. talk-heavy sales vs headphones-on engineering) while finding places for people to gather, recharge, exchange ideas, or be active.
(Above) A phone booth for calls and video meetings
Sweeten: With companies working remotely because of COVID-19, do you foresee companies downsizing their commercial workspaces? How will office spaces change and service in the post-COVID world?
Piper: Yes! Reducing your footprint is an excellent opportunity to redesign your space (and save money.) In the short term post-COVID world, barriers will be erected and procedures will be put in place to minimize germ transmission. The longer-term implications are rethinking why people should go to the office.
Companies still need space for employees to gather. Moving forward, I see workplaces geared towards collaboration, team building, and brand connectivity with consumers and partners. Dedicated desks and independent work while at the office is less and less important. Numerous studies during the pandemic have proven that working from home does not hinder overall productivity.
It makes sense to combine working from home with time at the office. The best analogy I’ve heard so far is that working from home versus going into the office will be similar to eating at home versus going out to a restaurant. Employers need to make coming into the office special by providing spaces that foster activities that are worth traveling for. This ties into our strong belief in activity-based-workplace-design.
Sweeten: How was your vision executed by working with your Sweeten general contractor?
Piper: The site manager was wonderful. From day one it was clear she cared about the quality of work and was very hands-on. Together, we worked to problem-solve several issues to make sure the final product was cost-effective, durable, and displayed craftsmanship. I would love to work with her again!
Sweeten: How did you, as a client, work with Sweeten?
Piper: We work with contractors all the time— yet still, find the process of finding the right contractor daunting. For Packet’s office renovation in Manhattan, I had very targeted needs, and Sweeten helped me quickly vet and compare contractors.
Sweeten: Can you describe the “before” space?
Piper: Words can’t describe this space before! It was raw, with filthy carpet and random paint patches throughout. Bad shape… But the potential that Packet saw was great, with pervasive natural light, airy ceiling height, and breathtaking views.
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