Location: DUMBO; Brooklyn, New York
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years in business: 13 years
From the moment you walk into this workspace, you'll instantly feel the creative vibe. Its main features are soft light and breathtaking views of the Manhattan bridge. This is the home of TODA, a multidisciplinary design studio in Brooklyn with sensible style and a heart for well crafted design.
The design studio is located in DUMBO and has great views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge. TODA is known for creating branding identities and product design for companies like American Crew, AIGA and OXO. They has offices in London, Hamburg and New York. Steering the ship here in NYC is Marcos Chavez. He gave me a tour of the main design office and their workshop upstairs.
I really enjoyed seeing all their work displayed on floating shelves — it adds color to the space while serving as inspiration for future projects. TODA's areas of expertise include not only visual communication, industrial design and architecture, but also the possibilities that lie between.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: We are visual communication designers with an affinity for the simple and smart. So in our design style and in our work space we like to balance form and function in new ways, while always leaving room for a twist or surprise. We love both minimal aesthetics and also have a heart for humanistic expressions that go against the grain.
Inspiration: We like content and see it as a source for inspiration. So we surround ourselves with books, the internet, and the design objects we create and admire. We need our space to be inspiring, but also want to have a bit of an objective and neutral atmosphere so that we can fill it with the personalities of our team and clients, and have space to have it be overtaken with the visual work that we do.
Favorite Element: Our favorite element to our office space is how we have set it up to be a versatile space that can transform in many ways. It can function daily as a studio for design work, but can also shift into a space for interacting with people. Whether it’s a learning event, photo shoot or social gathering, our space can be reconfigured to function in many ways as our space is open and our furniture is modular and can be easily adapted.
After spending a lot of money in fixed architecture at our previous office, we decided it would be smarter to have an office we could pack up and remove easily. So we created a room using industrial shelving and attached pin up board, shelving and work surfaces to it. We also created our main work desks from the same industrial shelving, but with inspiration from the kind of big dining room tables we all have been around during the holidays. This way we have a dynamic work set up which encourages our designers to interact and share ideas (which is always productive).
We also like to contrast our use of hands and minds, between the work we do with the computer and the kind of handicraft that was the basis for all of us becoming designers. So we have chalkboard walls, a hand-made dry erase calendar, pin up walls and a separate storage room that functions as a workshop for making things.
Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge is to avoid the distraction of the amazing view that is in front of all of us each day. We try to both not be distracted by the vibrancy of New York City, while always appreciating where we are and how we got here.
What Friends Say: Friends tend to come see us when we are having a party or event, and they tell me that it’s different every time they come because of the way we change it up for our events. Last winter we celebrated the season by building a big tub and filling it with packing peanuts and having an incredible indoor winter fest. Last summer we celebrated the random silliness of Dadaism by having a surreal costume party based on 3d pieces made from geometric shapes (and lots of smoke and bubbles).
Biggest Embarrassment: We have the best view ever of New York City, and yet somehow the worst internet connection ever. Life is a balance...
Proudest DIY: As graphic designers, we are proud of the legacy and history of design. So we paid homage to it by creating a large painted canvas that makes art out of the modular grid system, which the Swiss designers of The International Style popularized — it's now part of how we set up our digital files when designing our pieces. Somehow making it an oversized/analog work of art seemed like the perfect touch for our space.
Biggest Indulgence: We are pretty moderate, but you could say that we have a bit of thing for chairs... First it’s about spending the money to be sure everyone has a well designed work chair. But it’s also about filling our office with both the chairs we’ve designed and mixing them up with classic/quirky chairs (and a rocker) that don’t quite match. We think diversity is a great thing, and the wonderfully inconsistent set of chairs in our office makes that known.
Best Advice: Put thought into how you want your own space to be set up. It’s really important and can have a great effect on your daily life. Take the time (and money) to make your environment inspirational. Your space is a reflection of who you are and what you stand for, and these days it can be seen by more then just those who are able to come for a visit. So be sure your space represents your brand (and your heart).
Dream Sources: We find our best source of inspiration from our time away from the office, whether it’s spending time with our family and friends, or traveling to new places.
Thanks, Marcos, Sophie and the TODA design team!
(Images: Pablo Enriquez)
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