The new offices for Synthetic – home of Incredibooth, Swankolab, and Apple’s 2011 iPhone App of the Year Hipstamatic – required a smart reimagining of productivity. envelope A+D’s design facilitates the high-low processes of a contemporary tech company: room for a live band, a full-scale dinner party, an overnight guest, private meetings, open meetings, secluded phone conversations, video game decompression, Friday cocktails and collaborative work spaces.
The design preserves the character and material palette of the original building, which dates to 1908 and originally housed a casket maker. In celebration of Synthetic’s trademark photography innovations and the mild weather of the city, the historic carriage doors at the entry remain open, and a frameless, etched-glass wall providing the barrier between office and street tempts passers-by with photographic images projected onto its surface.
Large cut-outs in the ground floor’s ceiling break the barrier between upstairs and down, with a slim steel staircase joining the two levels. A spatial gradient organizes the plan from front to back – public gathering spaces at the front, dining and meeting spaces in the middle and more private offices and a meeting space/den to the rear.
The new understanding of informal privacy facilitated by creative tech companies is carried to the “fish bowl,” a small fully-glazed bubble of space for conducting a focused phone call or quiet study. A 28-foot-long lab desk, one of envelope A+D’s custom-designed furniture pieces for the project, stretches down the central artery of the middle level and encourages the concentrated collaboration on which Synthetic thrives.