Rock OnAuthor:Abigail Stone
Crafting corporate environment adds another level of complexity to the design process. In addition to comfort and functionality, the space must immediately telegraph the company’s brand. It’s a challenge Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe understood when Big Rock asked her to create their new headquarters.
The client, San Francisco-based Big Rock, “wanted a a modern, functional workspace with a fun startup feel, but also a sophisticated clean aesthetic that elevated their core business.” Given that the company serves the California hospitality, wellness and cannabis communities, Munroe understood the necessity of creating an office that ducked cliché. “It was very important to us to avoid any design stereotypes related to the cannabis industry. Our focus was on creating a unique, modern workspace with a striking and welcoming visual aesthetic.”
The raw space was long and narrow space. “It had no division for usage of space,” Munroe recalls. In addition to the company’s own needs for a conference room, break room and a variety of areas that would support various office functions, the company rented co-working space to people in adjacent industries. “It’s exciting because it becomes this organic Think Tank,” says Munroe, “The challenge is in balancing that with the fact that it also operated as a corporate headquarters.”
To solve this dilemma, Munroe divided the space in two with the conference room acting as an airy division between two areas: the front is dedicated to in-industry colleagues while the rear serves the in-house team. Phone booths were added to provide private spaces for calls. Free-standing shelving was corralled into service to provide additional work zones; an existing kitchen received an head-to-toe makeover, including new cabinetry, an upholstered banquette and a sleek dining table. Bathrooms were updated with new wallpaper, light fixtures, mirrors and functional storage.
With the bones of the space in place, Munroe used lighting and paint to further define the room’s contours. Sconces and chandeliers in interrelated shapes serve multiple purposes: they act as visual markers for the different workspace area and they add a touch of glamour to the otherwise industrial architecture. To keep the room’s vast expanse from feeling overwhelming, Munroe painted the incredibly high ceilings a deep charcoal, extending the color down the back wall of the main room grounds the space and also acts to tie the space into one cohesive whole. “It enhanced the intimacy of the huge great room and imbued it with a feeling of strength and elegance,” says Munroe.
Natural elements and textures like beautiful woods—note the walnut desks and teak tables—and plenty of greenery, including a custom logo, crafted from iron and planted with moss that hangs above the reception area, are a subtle nod the company’s business. The finished office is a fertile space that emphasizes collaboration and open communication. “It’s a place where ideas and this industry can grow and flourish,” says Munroe.