The New ?WhatIf! New York City Offices

  • Client WhatIf,
  • size 12,000 sqft
  • Year 2013
  • Location New York City, New York, United States,
  • Industry Design,
  • Innovation company ?What If! recently partnered with Mapos LLC in an effort to upgrade their existing office to create a more sophisticated, mature environment that better matched company culture. Located in the historic Stuyvesant Polyclinic in Manhattan’s East Village, the new space houses nearly 150 employees who work in a variety of work areas across 3 stories and 12,000 sqft.

    • The centerpiece of the first floor is the lobby. Guests walk in to see people working at vignettes of living room furniture, and the reception desk is in fact a long café counter with several barstools and an espresso machine. Overall, it has the feeling of an energetic boutique hotel lobby. Just beyond the lobby is a kitchen where people work alongside those having lunch; the ink blue walls of the kitchen are a contrast to the bright yellow portal that leads to another wing of the building.
    • The key feature of the second floor is the café. Custom booths with high backs are conducive to intense group sessions as well as quiet individual work; a long banquette faces the staircase; this was intentional so that people walking up and down can quickly chat with someone they see there.
    • The third floor, known as the beehive, features oversized wood tables. The flooring is a charcoal grey rubber, and in the areas where the tables are located, one will see the red accent color. The same shade extends up the legs of the tables as a playful feature. The walls are painted a soothing shade of blue and bring a sense of calm to the sometimes intense work environment.
    • ?What If! knows that its employees communicate and work in a variety of ways, and that their needs change from day to day—or even hour to hour. The open plan supports a variety of needs, including the need for quiet. The “Library” features wing back chairs and a large work table, and wallpaper with photographic images of books helps set the tone for this quiet space. There are also several phone rooms for private conversations, as well as a variety of meeting rooms (all of which are managed with iPad signs outside the doors to indicate if the room is occupied and the meeting is not to be disturbed). Conversely, the Extrovert room is furnished with a sectional sofa and custom wallcovering made with a photo of a bustling East Village street scene. It is also equipped with DJ equipment, so making noise here is encouraged.
    • A series of meeting rooms on the first and second floors are named after favorite New York locales. Each features graphic designs (inspired by said locales) created by ?What If! These designs were printed onto canvas and wrapped around acoustic panels covering the ceilings.
    • Aesthetics and branding: The objective was to leverage the details of the fantastic building itself, while working with a limited budget. Wrought iron railings and columns were painted white, and are a contrast to the sophisticated and vibrant—and at times playful—colors that are part of the ?What If! brand. A series of photographs lining the stairway walls tells the ?What If! story. And the variety of unique workspaces that encourage communication personify the ?What If! brand.
    • In addition to the three stories of work areas, employees have access to the basement, where they each have “cubbies” for storing personal items. The basement also features a variety of work tables and is brightened by VCT in colorful hues.
    • Mapos created several custom furnishings, including the light fixture in the lobby as well as the steel tube light fixture on the third floor.

    Design: Mapos LLC
    Photography: James Chororos, courtesy of Mapos LLC