Companies like SWOON, the Studio get creative junkies like us super excited – not just because their approach to design is holistic, where their team works on projects that span from branding to interior design, but also because they’ve created an ideal work environment. Every inch of this office merges aesthetics and function, a place where their team can collaborate to create great work.
The company was founded in 2009, by Samantha Reitmayer Sano as a studio for graphic design and brand, and then ventured into interior design a few years later with the help of Joslyn Taylor. We featured one of their projects just last week, but this time we wanted to find out more about the space that serves as their offices. Founder, Samantha Reitmayer Sano joined us to talk about how it was set up and more…
Where are your offices located now and where were you before?
Our offices are located in downtown Dallas in a five-story building with only three tenants. The bottom floor is a concept by Headington, the company that owns the building, called Commissary, a delicious all-day café and the company’s hub for the housemade foods they make for their other restaurants in town (think pasta, bread, pastries, cured meats, gelato, etc). Needless to say, it’s a pretty tempting place to work above. Our studio takes up the entire second floor, and the architecture firm 5G is on the top three floors.
Our previous office space was in a residential condo building. It was great, but we grew from two people to 14 people in that space before we finally decided it was time to move on.
What made you decide on this space for SWOON, the Studio?
It was the opportunity with Headington that led us to this space. They own the building and wanted to fill it with creative people. They really are passionate about energizing downtown. We were thrilled to be asked to be a part of this project; we feel incredibly lucky.
What was it like before you added your design touch to it?
It was a completely raw space, and we designed the interiors for our floor from the ground up. The building’s shell remained from its original 1950s structure, but other than that it was completely re-imagined with an exterior tile installation by Spanish artist Jorge Pardo.
The whole color palette is very earthy – what was your design concept behind the offices?
We definitely wanted the vibe of the space to be warm and residential and to not feel like a corporate office in any way. That was the driving force for most of our aesthetic decisions. We also wanted it to feel like us, which is very much earthy and organic but always with a little polish and a hint of modern. We love natural light, which was a little bit of a challenge in this space, as only two of the four sides have windows. To maximize the natural light and allow it to pass through to the sides without windows, we designed sliding glass and wood window walls for all the offices and communal workspaces.
That’s a smart way to bring in light all the way through! Besides a lack of natural light, another issue in workspaces is to promote both focused individual work as well as offer areas for employees to collaborate – how did you try to solve that problem?
We used the aforementioned glass and wood sliding window walls to delineate a center area where the interior design and branding teams sit. They are able to completely slide the doors open on all sides to create one large communal creative space, or the teams can slide their doors closed if they need to be quieter and focused.
They make full use of that ability, and we think it works really well for them. Visitors always comment on how cool the layout is. We’re really proud of it.
What are some ways that you try to promote creativity at SWOON the Studio?
Lucky for us, every person who works at Swoon is immensely creative both in and out of the studio and passionate about design as a lifestyle, so promoting creativity is not hard. We do lots of activities together as a work family: from inspiration trips to studio dinner parties, and everyone is constantly exchanging ideas and sharing personal projects via text and Instagram. We also have amazing clients and a wide variety of projects that continue to push all of us creatively. There is never a dull moment. Someone is always painting, writing, photographing, designing… It is a true creative hub.
The pieces that you’ve included in the space are beautiful, both collectively and individually. Can you tell us about a few of them?
The massive Karl Springer dining table that we use in our center meeting area and the four-foot Noguchi lantern that hangs over it sort of set the tone for everything else that’s happening in the office. They perfectly represent that mix of sculptural, iconic vintage pieces that we love with a soulful, warm organic feel. We carried that vibe through the rest of the space with the vintage travertine table in the main entry area covered in a mix of pottery, objects, and art. Other beloved pieces in the space include a limestone and ash coffee table from Yucca Stuff and a giant ceramic chain by MQuan.
You’ve created a custom piece to display printed material – how did you come up with the concept and how is it used?
We’ve fallen in love with leaning bookshelves and incorporate them into many of our projects, as we’re passionate about displaying books in an artful way. We included them in the studio in both the large built-in library area as well as freestanding storage and display pieces. We wanted both the interior and the branding designers to have a place where they could lay out their work and materials and review it together, and the display pieces are perfect for that. In addition to being functional, they are beautiful and anchor each workspace.
What do you love about the space and what is one part that you’d like to improve?
We feel like we grew up when we moved into this space. We’re so grateful every day to work in such a warm, inspiring environment. It’s our dream office. That said, we wouldn’t turn away a little more storage space and maybe a small area where we could paint and make bigger messes.
Well, it seems like a great place to get really creative and come up with great ideas! Any fun office culture anecdotes that you’d like to share?
Our text chain is constantly buzzing, and our internal hashtag is #itzacult
So, we’d like to do an office-focused lightning round of questions with you…
Paper and pen or iPad?
Paper and pen.
Espresso machine or juices?
Both. But we’re in the midst of a pretty big juice moment. (Ginger Shots always.)
A piece of office furniture that you swear by?
Noguchi Lanterns (they are functional works of art).
Organization tip or resource:
Excel is our nerdy secret love.
Retail, restaurants, hospitality, residential, anything fashion… We love it all. We get to work with our dream clients every day!