Breather x Industry West
Madison Avenue is synonymous with big ideas, big egos and even bigger budgets (that’s where Sterling Cooper got their start, after all). So when we heard we were moving in, we knew we wanted our spaces to be a little more elegant, a little more high-powered, a little more wow. Who better to work with than Industry West?
Founded in 2011, Industry West has made a name for themselves as an online source of highly curated innovative, modern furniture. (You can read more about them here). To bring the partnership full-circle, Industry West introduced us to interior designer, Dani Arps, who worked in tandem with one of our location designers, Sophie Fidler, to bring the space together. Arps has designed offices for some of NYC’s most renowned startups and was named one of 2016’s Young Guns by Curbed. We spoke to her about the space, her work and what happens when two designers tackle three spaces.
How did you get your start in interior design?
I went to school for interior design, so it was always a path that I knew I was going to take. And I knew I wanted to work for myself. I went to Pratt for my master’s, worked for a couple of companies and realized, “This is not for me!”
As a kid were you particular about your room? Did you have a strong sense of what you wanted your space to look like?
I went to a Liberal Arts school for sculpture, so I always like to think of interior design as artwork you live in. A three-dimensional living piece of art. I always thought about how things feel when you’re in them–I always had a notion of spatiality in my own artwork and around me. And that’s been true since childhood.
It’s something that I fell into. My first big commercial project was a startup and I knew that if did a really great job that more would follow suit. It’s a great culture because many of these companies have monthly meet ups with other startups. They’ll see each other’s spaces and say, “Oh, this is a cool space! Who did it?”
Now that you’ve designed for a bunch of startups, including SeatGeek and Codeacademy, what’s your take on it?
I typically design for companies whose concept is either quirky and fun or so vague that you’re just like, “I literally have no idea what you do.” [laughs] But Breather is a well-designed space where you can get away from your typical work environment. It was a joy working with a company that actually understands what I do as a designer.
Are there any particular challenges working with startups?
When you work in a space that looks crazy, that has red sofas, red shag rugs and beanbag chairs, you might think it’s cool and startup-y, but when startups start to grow they need a space that looks like a real work environment and that’s beautiful. The main issue is that startups are usually only in a space for 18-months before they’re onto the next one. It’s only when they move into a space that has a seven year lease that they take the time to design it correctly. It has sometimes been a challenge, but a fun one.
Your one rule when designing?
Making sure the space is functional first. They teach you in design school to start with a concept but I think it makes more sense to start with function and a space plan and then working the concept into it. Because, once you have the needs of your clients and the basics down, it’s easier to make it fit the narrative you’re trying to create.
How did you first get involved with Industry West?
I was on the hunt for a particular chair for my apartment four years ago. I really wanted to find some that I could afford. And I happened upon these metal ones… they were so incredible, the quality, the price–these were $100 metal chairs! And they looked like they cost so much more. I thought they were great, I kept ordering more and more and finally, Jordan [the CEO of Industry West] contacted me and said, “We noticed you’re ordering a lot of furniture, let’s talk!”
Two designers, three rooms–how did you divide the work?
It was pretty streamlined. I worked with Sophie Fidler who created a really comfortable layout and I choose the pieces, keeping it sleek and modern but also making sure that the pieces that we choose were still fun and not too serious.
Which pieces you love from spaces?
What’s your design aesthetic?
I love material for what it is. So if it’s metal, I want it to look like metal, if it’s raw wood, I want it to look like raw wood. For these spaces, I was inspired to let the natural materials breathe and live. Choosing pieces that enhance that natural state and aren’t overly designed. In terms of spacial inspiration: very clean, very chic, very industrial but also inviting.