The Quirky Office Skews Cool

Workspace Tour

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Name: Ben Kaufman, Founder of Quirky
Location: West Chelsea, New York, New York
Size: 45,000 square feet
Years worked in: 2 years; Rented

Quirky's offices occupy the top floor of a great old industrial building in west Chelsea — a former self-storage site that once housed the famed 1980's nightclub The Tunnel. Ben, the company's owner and founder, has created both production space and desktop space that allows the character of the building's industrial past to shine through.

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There are salvaged storage locker doors that now serve as conference table tops, dozens of wood pallets used as conference table bases, bowling alley lanes as desk surfaces, and an original freight elevator mechanism preserved in its own glass room.

While many offices and residences go for the industrial chic look, Quirky has a location with the street cred, context, inspiration and artifacts to give a level of authenticity that is hard to fake!

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Open, collaborative, a mix of old and new. Think Willy Wonka meets the Jetsons.

Inspiration: The building. We wanted to keep the original elements that make the Terminal Stores Building so beautiful — the wood floors, original skylights, exposed beams and brick walls — the part that makes it feel like a factory where invention can happen. We preserved all this and added a mix of old and new, plus some amazing state of the art technology.

Favorite Element: The Clean Room — a centralized, glass-encased design workshop where product ideas come to life. We intentionally built our shop in the middle of our office to signify our process of making invention accessible — to inspire creative thinking in an open forum for everyone to see and be a part of.

Biggest Challenge: Combining elements of traditional office space and design workshop so that everyone feels like it’s a place where invention can happen regardless of their role — lawyers to electrical engineers.

What Friends Say: Do you have any openings?

Biggest Embarrassment: I have my own office that I never go to. I also have a desk in the pit at which I rarely sit. I am happiest just walking around tinkering with cool stuff around the office.

Proudest DIY: We built an entire garage in our product wing for testing. Our desks are made from old bowling alley lanes.

Biggest Indulgence: We have five 3D printers. You can do the math.

Best Advice: We have 5 3D printers. You can do the math.

Dream Sources: Everything.

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Resources of Note:

Main Space

  • our chandeliers are from flos
  • conference room chairs are Sayl chairs by Yves Behar for Herman Miller
  • all of our conference room tables were designed by ben using reclaimed objects found in nyc schools, gymnasiums etc and are title by their contents (Heat, Lights, Pallets, Luella Rivera, Sinks, etc)
  • our desks are made from old bowling alley lanes
  • the metal aircraft chairs are from Restoration Hardware as are a lot of the other antique-looking pieces (such as the big stage lights)

Library

  • Shelves are custom made for the space
  • Quirky Crates create two separate spaces in the room
  • The couch is Herman Miller Eames Sofa
  • The chairs are Herman Miller LCW Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs
  • The bookcase is Malagana Equilibrium Bookcase
  • Coffee table - I think this a vintage piece or Restoration Hardware piece

Workspace

  • Glass tables are custom made - with custom designed steel legs
  • Table closest to the stairs has HAL Chairs Wood Warm Gray by Jasper Morrison
  • Table closest to Quirky sign has Eames Molded Wood Chair with an Eiffel Base
  • Table closest to the kitchen has a mix of those two chairs

Shop

On the Clean side we've got:

3D Printers:

-Connex 350 (Bertha)

-Objet 30 (Bob)

-Objet500 Connex3 (Unnamed)

Bertha and Bob use a technology called "Polyjet" which is a lot like an inkjet printer, except it uses liquid resin that is cured with UV light instead of ink. Bertha is special in that she can print multiple materials at the same time so you can have parts that are rigid, translucent, rubber-like, etc. all in a single print. Our newest printer, the Objet500 (yet to be named), is similar to Bertha but can print in full color.

-Fortus 400mc (Big Fridge)

-Fortus 250mc (Mini Fridge)

Big Fridge and Mini Fridge use a technology called "Fused Deposition Modeling" (or "FDM") which feeds a spool of plastic filament through a hot nozzle and kind of squirts out each layer like a hot glue gun. These are big commercial printers related to all those homemade DIY printers out there like the various Makerbots we have floating around the office.

What's special about the Fridges is that they can print in real production materials like ABS and Polycarbonate so the parts that come out act much more like the real thing. The resolution isn't as high as the Objets, but the pieces are significantly more durable which is really useful for testing out mechanical things like hinges and snap fits.

We also have an area for prototyping soft-goods, a laser cutter (which Nina uses for cutting out fabric patterns and Scott uses for packaging prototypes), vacuum-forming machine, the electrical engineers have all their equipment in here and packaging has a cool machine called a "Skin-Packaging Machine" which vacuum-forms a skin of plastic around the product onto a cardboard backing. You should ask Scott about it, saves material and is really fun to watch.

Then on the Dirty side we've got:

  • Saw Stop table saw (automatically shuts down if your finger touches the blade, cool stuff)
  • band saws
  • drill press
  • disk sander
  • paint booth
  • power washer for cleaning Objet prints
  • machine lathe

And our newest addition a Shopbot which is a CNC mill. It's kind of the opposite of a 3D printer, it takes the same kind of 3D files but instead of adding material layer by layer, you start with a block of material and it carves away at it until you have a final piece. This allows you to carve out parts using materials like foam, wood and metal. Depending on the design and material you can create large parts more quickly and cheaply than 3D printed parts and we have the ability to create durable moving mechanical parts out of metal. Very flexible tool, also fun to watch.

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Thanks, Quirky!

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(Image credits: Jill Slater)