Many people come to STATION F and tell us that the space looks very different from other startup spaces. And they’re right. The STATION F campus is incredibly unique in that the building is actually a historical monument from the 1920’s designed by French engineer, Eugène Freyssinet. We’ve kept the original concrete and the interior has been renovated by famous French architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
Designed by startups and for startups.
But we put a lot of thought into the design at STATION F, beyond the architecture. In fact, prior to joining STATION F, we went to visit numerous startup spaces around the world. But what really made the difference was actually talking to entrepreneurs to find out what they want and need.
We’ve mentioned it already quite a few times, but the team interviewed hundreds of startups to fit literally all aspects of STATION F to their needs — and the design of our space is no exception. We heard from many startups about the type of furniture they like, whether or not they like working in an open space or a closed office, the types of meetings rooms they like, etc. Naturally, we had some limitations — I mean, it’s not easy renovating a historical monument. But we did our best to respond to all of the requests, well, except maybe the rooftop jacuzzi.
When it comes to space, variety is key.
What we learned from the hundreds of entrepreneurs we spoke with was that variety was really key. In other words, we needed to create various environments in order to respond to the needs of different types of startups.
Many of the early-stage startups we spoke to said they preferred working in an open space environment, surrounded by other startups. Whereas startups that are maybe 3–4 years in and have surpassed the 20-employee mark tend to opt for their own office, often to promote team cohesion and protect employees from being lured away by other startups. But there really is no rule because even larger startups work in STATION F’s open space today.
Now, the fun part.
Once we had amassed all the feedback from the startups, we began designing the various spaces.
Shipping containers, workshop benches and XXL couches.
First, our architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, started by designing our meeting rooms in shipping containers and the workshop-like tables for the open space area. These elements helped keep a bit of an industrial look and feel to the former freight station. Also, the tables are actually designed to maximize collaboration — and each work station is equipped with several plugs, a slit to hide computer cables and more.
Jean-Michel also designed the XXL couches that sit in the center of the CREATE zone where the startups work. These colorful couches are made to look like gondolas and can seat 20–40 people each.
Pardon my French.
Naturally, we also assumed STATION F would be home to entrepreneurs from around the world. This meant that all of the signage on campus needed to be in English (as well as French). We had a lot of fun giving our building a voice as well.
Our Head of Communications, Rachel Vanier, worked on all the signage on the building — including signs reminding you not to drink the toilet water. She also named all of the 60+ meeting rooms on campus. Notice a theme?
Furniture, plants and more built by startups themselves.
Once we had some of the key elements in place, we decided to turn to startups to provide us with furniture, plants, decorations and more. Brice Bourgeois, who is our Head of Logistics and Design at STATION F, met with tons of startups to pick the right products for us. For example, for furniture, we turned to startups like Made.com, Cutwork and TipToe. For plants, we turned to Merci Raymond. For vending machines, coffee machines, orange juice machines and water fountains, we turned to the likes of EasyMeal, L’Orangerie de Paris and Castalie. We felt it was important to use our space to also support some of the great innovations coming out of the local ecosystem.
Now, take a look at some of our favorite spots on campus:
This is the “Morocco” themed lounge in the CREATE zone where the startups work. There are 24 different lounges, each with a different theme (all designed by Brice), including a farm, a French café, technicolor (featuring a bright orange phone), an English garden, Japan and more. The Station F team happens to like the Morocco theme the best.
We have 8 different event spaces at STATION F, including a 360-person auditorium called the Master Stage. But one of our favorite event spaces is the Creativity Room. This room is designed by Good Morning Creativity and featured a lego wall, numerous quirky books, a massive teddy bear and no screens or cables — because, well, it’s the creativity room! This is a place where you can feel like a kid again.
There aren’t a lot of places open to the public (yet!) but one of them is our coworking coffeeshop, called Anticafé. Anticafé has a great, laid-back vibe — but what we dig the most is the bathrooms! Check out the graffiti :)
If you’ve recently been to the post office in France, you may notice it didn’t exactly look like the post office we have at STATION F. That’s because La Poste has built the post office of the future.
Of course, how could we forget the foosball?! We also have billiard tables and a few vintage video game machines, including Street Fighter and the likes.
More design and decoration to come.
Ok, if you’ve been to STATION F, you may have noticed that there are a few other items that we may have left out (but stay tuned because we’ll be revealing them on the blog soon!).
In the meantime, if you’d like to propose something to add to the ambiance at STATION F, let us know.