When designing corporate environments, architects often use the metaphor of creating a village. But how many actually reenvision an office as a cabin-for-one? Freecell Collective, a New York firm, did just that in its low-budget office concept for Liquid Design Group Inc., a young graphics company that operates out of a 3,500-square-foot loft in lower Manhattan.
To provide LDG with the kind of private work spaces that are a rarity in most open lofts, Freecell's team constructed four 11-foot-by-11-foot pods with slanted, translucent roofs that lean toward the natural light that streams in from the loft's east and west windows.
"Most people really seem to like dwelling in what amounts to a huge, private sky-light," says Freecell partner Troy Ostrander, 30. And because noise is the number-one complaint among creatives here, the pods serve another very useful function. "As with a freestanding house, none of the pods share walls with each other, so they are pretty quiet," says Jeff Linnell, 28, an LDG partner.
Not only did Freecell's design come in at the remarkably low price of about $9 per square foot, it also offered LDG a subsidy of a different kind: Before the private offices were occupied by employees, LDG's principals helped finance their startup by living in the pods themselves. They even rented a couple of them out on a monthly basis, including one to a local New York University student, who grooved on living in a cabin on lower Broadway.
Bonnie Schwartz (Bonnie9878@aol.com) is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Freecell collective (www.freecellcollective.com) or Liquid design group inc. (www.liquidesign.com) on the Web.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.