A New Home in Brooklyn: Living + Breathing Our Designs

In Summer 2016, we moved to our new headquarters in Brooklyn’s historic Empire Stores warehouse, part of the DUMBO neighborhood we’ve always called home. 

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Built from 1865-1885, the building was originally the first production facility for roasted coffee. It now represents one of the last surviving brick storehouses that lined nearly three miles of the East River waterfront in the mid-19th century and still retains its original brick masonry facade.

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When planning our space, we set out to integrate old and new—creating a modern, modular office that supports the needs of our 300+ cross-functional team members, while still honoring the architectural elements of this historic structure. 

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“The very few windows were one of the greatest challenges,” said Mark Murashige, Principal at VM Architecture + Design. 

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We solved for the building’s limited natural light sources and heavy timber frame by designing the space with lines of sight to existing windows, reflective flooring and “cloud” ceiling designs. 

“This way, we drew as much natural light into the space as possible and created an environment that feels bright and open,” Mark said.

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To lend an additional brighter, more open feel to our space, we incorporated our Modern Benching System. Evocative of Scandinavian simplicity, it combines a crisp palette with side and below-desk storage. The space utilizes Interface carpet tiles, designed exclusively for WORKSPACE.

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Showcasing our breadth of aesthetic, each of our departments takes on a different identity with its WORKSPACE benching collection. It’s not jarring, though, to see these different aesthetics living together.

“The common DNA is they’re all west elm looks,” says Paulo Kos, our VP of Design for Contract Furniture. “The things that ties them all together is the warmth of wood, although they’re in different tonalities.”

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In keeping with the 19th-century manufacturing aesthetic of the exposed brick walls and steel support beams, we installed our Industrial Benching System, complete with desk dividers that provide both privacy and storage.

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By making creative use of easily neglected spaces within our layout, we designed versatile breakout areas for distraction-free focus and collaborative small-group sessions to complement our open workstations and private office spaces.

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In order to take advantage of narrow space in a high-traffic passageway, internally dubbed “The Bridge,” we divided our Heyward Sectional into two smaller seating areas with movable side tables and stools for brief meetings and individual away-from-desk work. west-elm-workspace-west-elm-case-study-013

Configurable pieces—unified by cool gray tones—create another breakout space allowing for one-on-one or group meetings. It’s finished with fashion-forward pops of yellow and sculptural accents.

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Artisan-sourced pieces include a hand-crafted conference table and a textured background papier-mache installation by craftspeople in Haiti. Our dealers can source handcrafted wall art from west elm's residential line to suit your space.

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“It’s a unique opportunity to design things and live with them,” Paulo said. “In that way, our office is our lab, where we can see how people use and live with our product every day.”

 

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