Friday, 2 December 2016

A   W e l l - C r a f t e d  S p a c e

'A space that reflects the vibrancy of our community, celebrates small and local artisans and supports employees' innovative working styles and overall well-being - all while adhering to some of the highest sustainability standards in the world.'

This is how Etsy's new headquarters in Brooklyn are described by the company on their blog.

An installation made by New York based SOFTlabs is just outside the Etsytorium

In 2005 Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade products, was founded in Brooklyn. With the number of employees going up to 500 from 50, the company soon outgrew its headquarters located in Brooklyn's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and felt the need to shift to a new place. However, they did not wish to move away from Brooklyn because as Justine Chibuk, Etsy's capital project manager puts it, 'staying here is a part of our brand identity'.  

A 9-floor, 200,000  sq ft office space, found a few blocks away from the original office became their new headquarters. The design by Gensler is a true reflection of Etsy's values and commitment to sustainability and crafts.

Salvaging and reusing  

The new headquarters is actually two buildings dating back to 1927 and 1949. They were joined by bridge and housed a printing plant. The history of the building lives on with it in the new design because of the sensitivity of the designers towards reusing what others would call trash. The structure was in a good shape so nothing much needed to be changed. The concrete floors were left as they were so were the green painted window frames. the weathered Alaskan Yellow Cedar water towers from the roof became a part of the interiors in the form of staircase treads. The heavy sliding doors that closed the bridges were re-purposed as conference room doors. 

Crafting all the way

Art Installations made by local designers are an integral part of the interiors

In keeping with its philosophy of boosting the local economy, Etsy wanted its own sellers to produce 50% of the furnishings used. Most of the furniture pieces and all the lighting fixtures were crafted by local studios. The interiors were designed with pieces sourced from the sellers on the site. The challenge for the design team was to ensure that these seemingly varied pieces did not create a visual cacophony. The solution was to create specific frameworks where these products could be displayed as works of art and neither would they interfere with not would get lost in the interiors. On the ground floor is an art gallery displaying works from sellers on Etsy.

An Art Gallery on the ground floor displays works of sellers on the site. It is also open to visitors

A Green Structure

Etsy had stringent ideas about ecological and health impact of the materials used. As a result everything had to comply with strict protocols. There are solar panels on the rooftop and they along with other local sources of renewable solar power will ensure 100% green energy. The company is also aiming for Petal Certification through the Living Building Challenge - an advanced sustainability certification program for the built environment.

Solar Panels on the roof are one of the many sources of green energy used in the building

An Ideal Workplace

Freedom to work wherever the employee wishes to

At the end of the day, any office should cater for the needs of the people working there. With its new headquarters Etsy has done that in ample number of ways. The 1:1 ratio of task chairs to lounge seating takes the concept of employees 'working wherever they felt like' to a whole new level. For the employees there is the green library, room for yoga and meditation, space for bike storage and a shower area to encourage the employees to use the carbon neutral travel mode.

Maker space in the office

More space is now dedicated to Etsy Labs with stations for making things to help the employees find their creative streak.

With more than 1.6 million active sellers and 35 millions items listed on the site for sale, Etsy is no doubt the ultimate go-to place for crafters and lovers of handmade goods. The design of the new headquarters  blurs the lines office space and creating an environment. The result is a great space that is proving to be a great place to work at.

Images: Courtesy Etsy & Gensler

Text & creative layout copyrights: On the Design Boat  ( ) 

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