When web hosting company and domain name registrar Rebel moved offices in June 2018, they were looking for something more than just a space to house their 50-plus team of employees.
“We wanted to be able to open our space for community events, for thought leadership, to not-for-profits, for entrepreneurs, and for the sharing of ideas,” says marketing director Taryn Manias, pointing to events with such names as F*ck Up Nights, Random Hacks of Kindness, and Tech for Good.
So the company hired architectural firm Plotnonplot to design their new L-shaped office in the Byward Market, with the clear understanding that this was an office design with purpose and a place to share ideas (but not one with an extravagant budget).
“It was really exciting for us to design a space with community engagement front and centre,” says Rebecca Fernando, co-founder of Plotnonplot.
Fernando and her business partner Grant Oikawa started with Rebel’s guiding principles: thoughtful, simple, brave. They then divided the space into three corresponding zones.
Brave is the kitchen and bar area, a natural gathering spot where a 35-foot long white quartz bar lined with 22 sky blue metal stools dominates the space. The underside of this bar is lined with horizontal corrugated metal pieces, which feature a mural of intestines — a very literal illustration of guts, painted in black and white. The graffiti-style accent wall is visible from the small raised stage at one end of the 70-foot L-shape, a visual endorsement of the “be brave” mantra that encourages anyone standing on the stage preparing to make a speech. Overhead, an uplifting trinity of three neon lights designed by Gaslight Electric in Almonte, bathe the sofas in a cheery wash of electric blue light.
Behind the stage Fernando and Oikawa divided the cavernous space with bell jars — these are glass boxes that serve as meeting spaces, and are meant to convey the thoughtful aspect of Rebel’s mantra.
“They give the isolation to distill ideas,” explains Fermando. There’s a brain-storming pod on one corner, with glass walls to write on and a shelf for sitting that circles the space; another room offers meditation mats for the weekly in-office sessions.
Tucked around the corner of the L is the open-plan office; here’s where you find simple. The team re-purposed existing furniture, configuring (seated and standing) desks and adding a new carpet. For those who need to step out to make a call or a podcast, there are two small rooms with plenty of pizazz. The library features a graffiti mural, while the podcast room is known by its palm tree wallpaper.
With light that floods the space from all sides — and other perks like weekly catered lunches — the Rebel space is meant to encourage employees to build and grow ideas so that they can in turn do so online with their clients. This is design centred on creating happy people.