Mariam Naficy, Founder and CEO of Minted, asks an important question: why do people make offices feel like offices? We wish we had the answer. If we spend so much of our lives at work, why is it that office décor is so uninspired? Say what you will about the startup culture, they are the ones challenging this conundrum. Minted, the startup stationery company turned worldwide e-marketplace for all things design, is one of those companies setting the bar high for beautiful workspaces. The brand has settled into a 36,000-square-foot space for their 150 employees—a space that’ll give any ordinary office a run for their money.
"I didn’t want it to look like other offices in San Francisco," says Naficy, who founded the company back in 2007, and just expanded their e-empire to home decor. Located in Jackson Square, one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods, the Minted family occupies two floors of an old warehouse just a stone's throw from the bay. "Around town there’s a lot of midcentury [design]; I wanted to really mix old and new," explains Naficy. She called on interior designer Kendall Ermshar to make her office dreams a reality. Having already worked with Naficy on the design of her personal residence, the two creatives were the perfect match to take on the large project at hand.
The duo set out to take advantage of the space’s floor-to-ceiling windows, ample natural light, and soaring height. "I love the old feel of the windows, it gives it this old school character like an industrial Parisian loft; a real European flavor," remarks Naficy. Sure enough, one of Europe’s most design-centric cities proved to be inspiration for one of the office’s most eye-catching design elements. After Naficy returned from a trip to Stockholm, Ermshar, was looking through her vacation photos when he came across an image of a copper-covered wall she snapped in a restaurant. "My first thought, was ‘this is going to be expensive,'" admits Ermshar of the initial idea. But a copper wall was too tempting not to attempt. Located behind the rustic wooden reception desk, the glow of rose gold is the first thing visitors see when getting off the elevator, and gives visitors just a taste of what lies ahead.
The most obvious difference between Minted’s headquarters and other offices is the use of furnishings that would be used in a real home. Plush chesterfield sofas can be found across both floors, from the reception area to a communal lounge area. White tolix bistro chairs surround the office kitchen’s rustic wooden table, looking like a dining room that would belong to a homeowner with impeccable taste. When it came to the lighting—"I was particular," says Naficy—no unflattering-fluorescent bulbs here, but rather you’ll find everything from vintage chandeliers and paper lanterns to copper pendant fixtures.
When asked what their favorite design element, both Naficy and Ermshar independently agree that the floors are the real standout. "The floors are the wildcard,” says Ermshar of the wide, reclaimed Douglas fir herringbone wood floors that stretch across the ground of the common areas. "It takes you back in time and out of the crazy tech world—like you’re in an old factory," imagines Ermshar. The two were more than eager to play into the building's hundred-year-old roots. The drop-ceiling was removed to allow for an airy atmosphere while exposing the metal pipes and beams above. While other buildings on the block boasted exposed brick walls, Ermshar and Naficy decided to add a brick wall surrounding the reception area's non-working fireplace to pay homage to the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
Introducing elements like brick and wood are indicative of the strong opinion Ermshar has developed towards the importance of texture. "I think it comes from my love of the outdoors," says the designer. And there is no shortage of interesting finishings and accents. Sheepskin throws can be found draped over wicker chairs. Copper and brick walls aside, Ermshar also covered the pillow room in wood paneling, and used long pieces of rope to act as a room divider between a quiet seating area and a foosball table. And who can forget the conference room enclosed with floor-to-ceiling books—making wallpaper seem, for once, boringly two-dimensional. All of this "makes the eye dance," says Ermshar. "Sometimes the less pattern you have, the less entertained you are."
If the entertainment of employees were determined by the quality of their office's interiors, then Minted's passionate workforce would never be bored—or uninspired. With a seat at the helm of a company that witnesses a constant flow of fresh and emerging design trends, you can imagine how Naficy’s personal style has been influenced over the past nine years. "I see everything—trends emerging, the constant evolution of design," says Naficy, "it's hard not to be transformed when you see something like that." It's safe to assume that the same kind of transformation is possible for the lucky ones who get to call this office their home away from home.