The Klutz Idea Factory is as Playful as Its Books

It seems appropriate that the Klutz Press building in Palo Alto was originally home to a Coca-Cola bottling plant. The 43 people who work here today make something that kids love just as much as soda: A special line of creative children’s books that have sold 45 million copies worldwide and counting. Come along with us on a special tour of Klutz’s idea factory.

Luke Stangel
  • Photo credit: James Tensuan
    Flying Bikes

    Fourteen bicycles hang from the ceiling along an airborne path, making it look like the bikes are in flight. They’re secured by nearly invisible wires, which are designed to keep the bikes aloft in an earthquake. 

    The flying bicycles were the brainchild of Klutz co-founder John Cassidy, who often biked to work from his home in Palo Alto. He tasked Klutz employees with finding the bicycles, with one condition: They had to cost $5 or less.

  • Photo credit: James Tensuan
    The Idea Factory

    An illustrated dog (drawn by H.B. Lewis, and originally appearing in The Klutz Book of Magic) keeps watch over the Klutz office, from the building’s second-story balcony.

    Klutz spent one year and $2.2 million renovating their 21,000-square-foot office on Lambert Avenue.

    They designed the building with the help of the architects at Cody Anderson Wasney, who have designed four office spaces for Klutz over the past 20 years—a small house in Palo Alto’s College Terrace neighborhood, a 5,000-square-foot warehouse space, a 12,000-square-foot office, and Klutz’s current office.

    The building had changed hands several times, and most recently housed an auto parts warehouse. When Klutz moved in, they inherited an empty shell, giving them complete design flexibility. The architectural style reflects the building’s industrial roots, with metal staircases, fixtures, exposed beams, air vents and portholes.

  • Photo credit: James Tensuan
    In-House Artwork

    Artwork from Quentin Blake share wall space with Elwood Smith’s work from two books: The Klutz Book of Board Games and the Spiral Draw Book.

    Klutz is fairly unique among publishers in that most of the creative work that goes into their books is done in-house by artists, editors and graphic designers. The company’s, playful, creative attitude is reflected everywhere you look… even on the walls.

  • Photo credit: James Tensuan
    Lofty Views

    Beanbag chairs invite quiet reflection atop the building’s second-story balcony. In the background, six of Klutz’s 14 airborne bikes hang from the rafters.

Designers
Cody Anderson Wasney Architecture
Keywords

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