Casual, human-scaled, residential-style workspaces are key design elements that have shaped the work we have done with Stripe over the last three years – such as their former HQ at the Pioneer Trunk Factory – where the historic timber building played a key role in their aesthetics and culture.
Fast forward to 2016, their rapid growth (a unicorn in tech) demanded much larger space. We provided property evaluation services during the long and arduous search, culminating in one of the largest lease deals of the year - 300,000 SF on Townsend Street - in an entitled, but not yet built space that was two years out (had not even broken ground when they signed the lease).
Unable to stay at the beloved HQ during this two-year period, they subleased a space at China Basin from the previous tenant, Dropbox HQ – a space we designed in 2013 - for an interim move.
Given our insights into Stripe’s culture and the desire to make their interim transition as smooth as possible, they engaged us to re-design Dropbox’s 105,000 SF. We kept many of the well-appointed design elements (solid walnut paneling, copper bars, commercial kitchen) at the same time transforming the context from boastful masculine to gender fluid and achieve a holistic feel with an artful combination of new, old and inherited.
To humanize the huge, 85,000 SF 4th floor, we introduced three new thresholds that are abstractions of money - barter, coin, and digital. In addition to the thresholds, we humanized the space by creating residential-scaled nooks and break out spaces for small group collaborations.
Via complete architecture and interior design services including programming, FFE and sourcing and curation of art and accessories, we created a Stripe culture. Examples of this include meeting rooms furnished with sofas, armchairs, end tables and lamps, and tactile finishes, new light fixtures and a warm color palette (versus table and chairs, one accent wall and overhead lighting).
The artwork for each area is themed with a different animal—yes there’s a skunk and a sloth. And Stripe amiably insisted on bringing the hanging globe sculpture that Studio BBA staff handmade for the former HQ, which now lights their new library.
For companies at this stage of rapid growth, there are fundamental design challenges to balance caution and budget-conscious thinking with the founding freedom and energy. We were able to help Stripe make this transition gracefully by using resourceful design strategies to successfully translate their core culture values into an interim space, all within a tight budget and a compressed schedule.
To support the future evolution of Stripe’s human centered environment, we implemented a series of Beta tests (to be used in the Townsend space) such as mobile teleconferencing, genius bar for IT support, and circadian rhythm lighting for the open office areas.