For many years, Krista Coupar (Coupar Consulting) and Lisa Davis (Lisa Davis PR) have been advising top interior designers on public relations, branding, and marketing matters. But last year, after deciding to join forces and share office space in the San Francisco Design Center's Galleria, the pair decided it was time to do more than just talk about the subject. To create their stylish new office, they channeled their inner designers for something that's equal parts work space and gathering spot.
The SFDC seemed like a natural fit, as its showrooms are shopped by daily by thousands of designers. But proximity wasn't the only thing on their minds, the pair was thinking about community as well. "Being a designer can be isolating," says Davis. "Many work in small offices or out of their homes. We wanted to give them a place to collaborate."
That's what led to the creation of Tête-à-Tête, an organization of design professionals. Designers who join can have access to the two lounge areas within the office, computer equipped workspaces, seminars, business consulting, and support services. The lounge areas are designed with collaboration in mind. "We wanted to give members a place to gather and to meet with clients," says Coupar. "The spaces needed to be beautiful, because if you are going to work with a high-end client, you have to give them an elegant experience." The women hope that the spaces, so comfortable and art-filled (all the art is sourced from Arthaus) they could be mistaken for living rooms, will also foster interaction between designers.
With a backdrop of the dramatic, black-painted arched windows, simple white walls, and painted brick ("It reminded me of a New York City loft,"says Coupar) the furniture shines quietly. The duo wanted to keep things fairly neutral, so designers presentations won't have to compete with the surroundings. With a shop local mentality, the pair sourced the majority of the furniture from the SFDC.
The work spaces, located behind the lounges, are outfitted with sea urchin-like light fixtures and computers equipped with design software.
The offices show that a few pieces of statement-making furniture and art can make a small space shine.
Now that the project is done, the public relations pros admit that it was fun—and worth it—to play designer for a while. "Working in a well-designed space gives you a baseline for creativity," says Davis.