The economies of scale that come with surging corporate growth can have a dulling effect on architecture and interiors. As workplace volumes seemingly become larger and larger, they tend to fill up with more and more sameness: open plans with benching, partitions, and a few accent pieces. Not so with Spotify. For its enlarged New York office, the company turned to TPG Architecture for a highly customized environment.
Founded in Sweden, with major offices in Stockholm and London, Spotify is now the world’s largest music-streaming service with nearly 100 million users. When Spotify expanded its New York presence located within the 120-year-old Siegel-Cooper Building on the Avenue of the Americas at 18th Street to include the 54,000-square-foot third floor featured here (Spotify continues to occupy the seventh floor as well), the company chose to create an extraordinary new home for its 250 employees.
“People think we’re a tech company, like a Google or a Facebook,” says Cecilia Vigil, Spotify designer and project manager. “But we’re not.”
The company wanted to avoid the design tropes of startups and tech firms. “Usually, there’s a sweeping gesture—one at the reception area, one at the cafe—and then a sea of workbenches,” says TPG Principal Michel Fiechter, describing the simplistic approach of some workplace interiors. He points to a more comprehensive design method for Spotify, with an attention to detail carried across the entire floor plate.
Designing for the squads
A maze of partitions from the previous occupant was removed, creating a clean slate with 13-foot ceilings. “We completely demolished everything,” says Carly Jacobson, a designer at TPG. “We wanted to expose some of the building’s original features, like the columns.”
Having returned the interior to its raw form, TPG took the next step: making it distinctively Spotify’s. Achieving coherence was important for a company with a lot of disparate job types—technology development, design, content, business strategy, and record label relations. As Vigil explains, Spotify employees work in small groups that the company calls squads. Considering this dynamic, TPG crafted a strategy to create an open, flexible area at the center of the floor, which is ringed with offices that the squads share. Squad rooms have access to daylight, and each unit has its own open and closed conference rooms.
For work surfaces, employees have sit-stand desks from Humanscale that have been modified so that table details, such as the corners and the toggle used to raise and lower the table, better fit with Spotify’s aesthetic. A cafe, a lounge, a library, wellness rooms, and a development workshop are scattered throughout the floor. The brooding entrance foyer—“we didn’t want a receptionist’s desk,” Vigil says—is illuminated in low light with fixtures by Tom Dixon.
Curated collection of art and furnishings
Determined to give the workspace the character that is often missing from corporate interiors, Spotify and TPG sourced art and furniture as curated one-offs. The roster includes more than 100 manufacturers. “The furniture package was one of the most complex I’ve ever done,” Jacobson says.
Each piece was selected based on individual room character. For many furnishings, TPG turned to Danish company HAY, which allowed the team to produce a more individualized, domestic ambiance. Booths upholstered in bright yellow Maharam foam animate the edges of the central community space, and Studio Job wallpaper adds even more surface character.
One of Spotify’s priorities has always been to integrate art into its offices, so art consultant RedBoy commissioned 10 local artists to produce pieces for the New York expansion. For the boardroom, TPG took a more unconventional approach, since Spotify wanted the walls to be finished as a giant whiteboard, creating a massive surface to mark up during meetings. To inject art into the same room, the artist Li-Hill. embellished the top of a custom Halcon conference table, which was then sealed with a surface finish.
The result of this close collaboration between client and architect is uniquely individualized, idiosyncratic, and well-suited to Spotify’s corporate identity. As Fiechter puts it, “this space reflects an entire culture.”
who Architect/interior designer: TPG Architecture. TPG project team: Michel- Claude Fiechter; Carly Jacobson; Susan Pavlovsky; Megan Adams; Laura Ghini; John Maleri; Ana Millet. Spotify project team: Cecilia Vigil. General contractor: John Gallin & Son. MEP engineer: Lilker Engineering. Graphics: Coyle & Co. Acoustical: Lally Acoustics. Audio visual: Cerami Associates. IT: TM Technologies. Lighting: Susan Brady Lighting Design.
what Wallcoverings: Maharam Symmetry; Studio Job Archives. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Laminate: Abet. Specialty: string walls made from parachute string. Hard flooring: Stone Source. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface; Object Carpet. Floor/table lamps: Anglepoise. Pendants/chandeliers: Hive Mind Design; Fabbian; Tom Dixon. Sconces: Restoration Hardware. Other decorative: Zero Lighting Thirty; Umbrella. Hardware: FSB. Door: Rocky Mountain Hardware. Architectural glass/glazing: Clestra. Workstations: Humanscale. Workstation/task seating: HM Aeron. Conference seating: HaySoft. Lounge/ reception seating: Brabbu; Phase Design; Grange. Other seating: Magis; HaySoft; Fritz Hansen. Upholstery: Maharam; Littlephant Fabrics. Conference table: Halcon. Training tables: Bernhardt Design. Other tables: Hive Mind Design. Lockers/ cubbies: Lock up. Architectural/ custom woodworking: DiMaio Millwork Corporation. Signage: Coyle & Co. Plumbing fixtures/ fittings: Kohler.