Say you want to redesign your office. Type “modern office” into Pinterest or Tumblr, and you’ll see a slew of inspiring spaces, but you won’t find much practical information like product names and manufacturers; maybe if you’re lucky, the images will identify the architecture firm responsible. Kontor, which bills itself as “a visual network for workplace design,” seeks to bridge the gap.
“Before Kontor, there wasn’t a good way to find inspiring spaces, to find great architects and designers, or to collaborate with designers by sharing images with relevant data and sources,” says Mia Lewin, Kontor’s cofounder with Andy Parsons, Kevin Ryan, and Tom Melcher. “People have been trying to use Google Images search or Pinterest, but they really don’t fit the needs of a serious design conversation.” Kontor launched today with over 60,000 images from 350 design and architecture firms around the world. Like Pinterest, users can search based on keywords, save images to galleries, and follow other users of the site. What sets it apart is that the images are much more robust in their metadata. Hover over a photo and, depending on how well it’s tagged, you’ll be able to identify specific products and their manufacturers. If you like the product enough, you can click on an outlink to the manufacturer’s site.
Kontor’s in-house team hand-picked the inaugural roster of designers featured on the site, but plans to open it up to more firms down the line. “We built the product to help professional designers and architects convey their vision,” Lewin says. Kontor also spearheaded the image categorization, calling out information staffers find more relevant to the overall aesthetic of the space, the dominant architectural moves, and practicalities like specific lighting or furniture.
“The way people look at projects and how they research are totally separate,” says William Hanley, Kontor’s editorial director. “There are blogs for products and spaces, and you have product indexes, but there isn’t anything that marries the industrial design side to the architectural side. The information tends to be offline. We’re making the connections between projects, products, and designers.”
While the startup is currently backed by $5 million in Series A funding from Venrock and seed-round investments from Kevin Ryan and Tom Melcher, Kontor eventually plans to launch fee-based premium services related to contextual advertising, lead generation, and data analytics. For the time being, the site is free to use for all.
So the next time you feel like ogling offices that are way cooler than yours, click on over to Kontor, and find a designer who can turn your dream workspace into a reality.