My partner and I started a brand new business that we were excited to open in a newly revitalized, high-foot-traffic restaurant & retail district in one of Portland's premier destination neighborhoods. Although the nearly 2000sqft space was an unfinished "clean slate" it was more prepped for a restaurant tenant than a retail-friendly storefront. One of two furnaces (?!) hung clumsily down into the middle of it. It was also a tunnel, attached on both sides to other buildings, so natural light was very limited.
Kim of Maven Interiors quickly took stock of the space. Within a week of learning what our goals were for creating a bright, "anti-office-feeling" environment suitable for up to 25 people to be working efficiently (as well as a retail-friendly entry) she came up with an attractive, dimensioned floorplan. Her idea to bring light through the space was to design partitioned offices with panels of glass installed the last 2 vertical feet of each wall, which carried the natural south-facing exposure all through them. After several more succinct, productive discussions, we were excited to have a product that needed very little architect input to be submissible for permitting, and one with an eye to minimizing construction costs for the contractors who bid the work.
Once we selected a general contractor, Kim and/or her staff were onsite frequently to insure the work was progressing to plan, including many interactions with subs who sometimes needed her focus to stay on track. She also sourced several local artists for mural and custom panel art that she directed, concept-wise, and made the process a collaboration with our input as well! The end results were an injection of "beauty with purpose" which is to say that the images were colorful and creative, yet reflective of both the nature of our business and our connection to - and love of - the Pacific Northwest.
The other fun part was finalizing the furniture pieces and colors. Kim gave us a lot of great options she felt could work, but not so many flavors that we glazed over or felt overwhelmed. She arranged for us to test the office chairs, and carefully researched the appliances we would need to fit a small kitchen area properly without blowing the budget.
We ended up with an inviting, beautiful "anti-office space" that nevertheless functions well for the almost 30 people who now work in it - some have dedicated desks, some come in less frequently and plug in at a communal table that comfortably accommodates 10. Although the art is prominent and the design eye-catching, Kim also made sure it was very clear what kind of business we were. Consequently, we attract many walk-in visitors who turn into clients, and who love the transparency and the sleek design elements. Many more passersby simply gawk from the sidewalk and snap photos! How cool is that?!