Melissa and Seth Hanley, partners of San Francisco–based Blitz Architecture + Interiors, knew that their design of the workplace for internet security firm Malwarebytes would make a significant impact after their first look at the company’s previous space: a single floor of drab cubicles and perimeter offices in San Jose, California. “It was all gray and beige and perfectly fine but fairly heinous,” recalls Melissa Hanley, who spoke to Contract about the project. “It pushed me to make something far more refined than we typically would for a tech office.”
Malwarebytes Founder and CEO Marcin Kleczynski hired Blitz to create a more sophisticated environment—one that would be less isolated and segmented—within a multitenant building in Santa Clara, California. Here, on two floors totaling 50,900 square feet, Blitz designed a more vertically integrated home for Malwarebytes, which claims to be the fastest growing cybersecurity company in the country.
Blitz focused on authenticity to set apart the new office. “We revealed everything that the building had to say for itself,” Hanley says. That meant exposing the interesting structure underneath. Reaching to the bones of the building informed how Blitz would produce an interior that is both hospitable and real for the 250 Malwarebytes employees. To underscore the creation of genuine spaces, Blitz also ensured that the materials specified were, well, authentic. “The wood is wood; the marble is actually marble,” she says. “It was important to Marcin that things be authentic and not knocked off.”
Central place to gather
The centerpiece is a massive stair with bleacher seating—an interconnecting hub for Malwarebytes. Lined with reclaimed and refinished wood, this sculptural element operates both as a means to get from one floor to another and as a central gathering place. “I wanted to put these stairs in as a midpoint, as somewhere to meet,” Kleczynski says, offering a counterpoint to the company’s remoteworking and highly separated origins.
Hanley further explains that the stairs are a metaphor for the company. “Everyone comes together on the mountain and climbs the mountain,” she says.
Hanley and her team designed Malwarebytes with “a very strong hospitality bent,” as she describes it. That perspective is immediately apparent in the fully-functioning bar, tucked directly below the bleachers. Dark and moody at night with views of the mountains and Levi’s Stadium, the home of the 49ers, the hideaway offers employees a place to relax. Arrayed with dark-green leather chairs and marble-topped tables, this lounge is unlike most rival workspace gathering areas.
Adding to the highly hospitable interior is a welcoming cafe, designed with employee nourishment in mind. “Food now is practically tribal,” Hanley says, so the cafe is a central focus, with everything “quietly integrated.” Blitz utilized a palette of steel, copper, stone, marble, and ceramics to introduce a variety of textures and layers. Comfortable seating and multiple tables are arranged to allow employees to actually work there in addition to picking up graband- go snacks and drinks.
In the work areas, Blitz created intimate, personal, yet teamdriven neighborhoods, centered around specific groups that each have their own break-out zones, war rooms, and even gaming rooms. Conference rooms and small huddle rooms allow for meetings of various sizes. Throughout, bright hues of blue and yellow stand in contrast to neutral backgrounds and wood elements.
Members of the Malwarebytes team are big fans of “Star Wars,” and the wall graphics, art pieces, and other details were curated by Blitz to appeal to their love of the film series.
Kleczynski himself was instrumental as a catalyst driving the aesthetic. His big-picture vision for the company is apparent in the workplace interior. Hanley says, “Having a clear stylistic driver who is so integral to the company mission and culture only deepens the authenticity of the project.”
who Architect: Blitz Architecture + Interiors. Project team: Melissa Hanley; Zach Meade; Liz Evoy; Emily Burchill; John Hunter. Contractor: NOVO Construction. Consultants: Anderson AV; Kastle Security. Lighting: Blitz Architecture + Interiors.Engineering: Hohbach Lewin. Kitchen: Blitz Architecture + Interiors. Graphics: Blitz Architecture + Interiors; Martin Sign Co.
what Laminate: Formica. Hard flooring: Terra Mai. Carpet/carpet tile: Tandus Centiva. Ceiling: Nine Wood Ceiling. Lighting: Lucifer Lighting; Diesel; Finelite; Linear Pendants; Pablo Lighting; Zero Lighting; Tom Dixon; Oru; Lightyears; Buzzishade; Tech Lighting. Decorative glass panels/partitions: Clarus Glass. Window treatments: Mechoshade. Workstations: AMQ; One Workplace. Seating: Sit on It Seating; Hightower; Blu Dot; West Elm; Gus. Modern; Bend Goods; Arper; CB2; Lexmod; Urban Wood Goods; Ohio Barstools; All Hands Stair. Upholstery: Unika Vaev; Design Tex; Maharam. Conference: Custom Woodtech. Cafeteria/dining: Urban Wood Goods. Reception desk: Custom Millwork. Side tables: CB2; BluDot. Other tables: Crate and Barrell; Restoration Hardware; Gus Modern; Hightower. Files: One Workplace. Shelving: GC Work. Signage: Martin Sign Co.