sneak peek: refinery29 office

We’ve been working on getting the Design*Sponge office in shape, so I’ve become particularly curious about other office spaces. Refinery29 is one of my daily reads and certainly one of my favorite fashion sites. So I was pretty excited to get today’s peek into their office. They just moved their 70-person team (whew!) to this space in New York’s Cooper Square. The old office space was jokingly referred to as “the batcave,” so they wanted to emphasize the light, airy feel of the new space. The site’s co-founder, Philippe von Borries, explained that they worked with designer Chad McPhail to create a space that “balances clean-lined minimal elements with more rustic industrial materials to create a neutral canvas” to be filled with color and pattern. The result is an office space that feels decidedly unoffice-y. Thanks, Philippe and the Refinery29 team! — Amy Azzarito

All images (unless otherwise noted): Ingalls Photography

Image above: We wanted the reception area to have a warm, inviting feel. The black material on the low wall is a Forbo cork product, and the wall is capped with reclaimed lumber, a construction detail found throughout the office. The rug is from Paul De Beer, a private dealer in Persian Rugs — he sold us one of his last rugs before retiring from the business! The Arthur Umanoff-style wicker chairs are from Horseman Antiques, the reclaimed wood and steel table is from Haus Interior, and the vintage Moroccan pillows are from Imports from Marrakesh, Ltd.

Image above: This area is for informal meetings. The sisal rug is from Crate & Barrel; the sofa is from Form in Dallas, Texas; the Danish safari chairs were found on eBay; the round solid oak table is a Bas van Pelt design from Holland sourced from David Duncan Antiques; the plants and pots are all from Plantworks, Inc. around the corner from our office; and the roller shades are from Smith & Noble.

Image above: Guang Xu

See more of the Refinery29 New York office after the jump . . .

Image above: It was important to us that we had a room where we could brainstorm freely, and we wanted all the walls to double as whiteboards. You can even write on the glass walls, so sometimes the space has 360-degree scribbles! The table is a custom design by our interior designer, Chad McPhail, made of black Formica and reclaimed lumber built by Ernie’s Carpentry. The chairs are from White on White. The white board paint on the walls is by IdeaPaint.

Image above: Another meeting area with a custom-designed table by our interior designer Chad McPhail, made of Formica, steel, and reclaimed lumber and built by Ernie’s Carpentry. The vintage bentwood chairs are sourced from Cove Landing. The light fixtures are Matt Gagnon Prototype Lamps from Future Perfect. The wooden “R29” sign was given to the company by our founder, Philippe von Borries’ mother. It was made by her artist friend out of shipping pallets. It was brought from the former office and given a prominent spot.

Image above: We wanted open rows of desks with areas for people to pin up their inspirations. The workstations are Formica, reclaimed lumber, steel, and sanded homasote built by Ernie’s Carpentry. The Orbit Chandelier is a Patrick Townsend design from Areaware.

Image above: When we were building this room, we joked with the carpenters that this was where we sent people who needed to calm down and that we needed the walls padded so they wouldn’t hurt themselves. Really we just wanted a quiet room where people could make calls. The walls are covered in egg-crate packing foam. The chair is a late 19th-century folding chair from Cove Landing.

  1. Jenny says:


  2. Martha says:

    How cool! I love getting to peek into other creative spaces–it’s so fun to see where the *magic* happens :)

  3. I love the space, and especially the reception area, but is the workstation area where people sit and work all day? I don’t think I would like working so physically close to my co-workers, without a little wall or something to define personal space.

  4. Adore offices like this that almost feel like they could be in someone’s home!

  5. Andrea says:

    Despite the lack of privacy for workers, I love this space. I would love to work in a creative space like this.

  6. Liz says:

    Gorgeous, but would like to know if it’s loud when all 70 people are there. My experience with offices with whiteboard walls is that the sound bounces off the hard whiteboards and makes it very loud. No wonder they need a padded room for phone calls!

  7. berton1020 says:

    What a wonderful space!! Perfect for CREATIVITY!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  8. KK says:

    i’d like to work here

  9. Susan says:

    Pretty but I would be very uncomfortable working there. Stark white walls, cold/hard floor, small desk with no privacy or personal space. Must be a NY thing.

  10. Whoa! That is so cool that they can write on the walls ;) I need something like that for my workspace…a white board that masquerades as part of my decor, or vice versa. Anyone know where I could buy something like that?

  11. nj says:

    wow. the raddest office ever! what a dream environment for creativity!

  12. Oh my, this place is so awesome! If only all offices could look like this… :)

  13. Jennifer says:

    Barbara, you can order from Ideapaint just as they did, but it is rather expensive if you’re on your own. I can’t wait until the market drives the price down. It’s such a great concept!

  14. Alma Van Wagner says:

    Just gorgeous. Chad McPhail has nailed it!!!!

  15. Jacqueline says:

    Awww, love love love this office!

  16. tere says:

    Really love the office and I think the open workspace is suitable for creative jobs, you need to comment and brainstorm a lot! Really cool but neutral, great work!

  17. Lucrecia says:

    Refinery29 it is on of my favourites websites right now, so it is very cool to see in which enviroment they get inspire. Thanks, beautiful pics.

  18. The padded call room is a riot..and might be incentive to keep phone calls short and sweet. I mean it’s like a cave, no windows, no light. I couldn’t even knit in there if I tried.

  19. Celia says:

    what kind of ‘work station’ chairs did you purchase?

  20. What a lovely use of space! This has a lovely feel to it. I particularly like the amount of plants used which make an office area more breathable and homely.

  21. Sara Grace says:

    of course R29 would have an AWESOME office! I wouldn’t expect anything less… They did a marvelous job!

  22. one of my favorite sites too. it’s fun to see where all the magic happens!

  23. Lamb411 says:

    Interesting that they brought Moroccan into the design mix. Not a style you typically see in an office. Great, light space. No more bat-cave!

  24. Randy says:

    Nice space, but as a designer myself, I would go CRAZY sitting in such close quarters like that working away. Assembly-line design? No thanks.

  25. Lynne says:

    I found the site very resourceful. Very cool, but accessible.

  26. Carol Fugit says:

    Looks wonderful. Chad McPhail is a wizard!

  27. jo says:

    Very nice! My work is trying to figure out its collaborative workspace for us creatives. Will share this. Thanks!

  28. yikes says:

    Everything looks very nice until you see the actual work areas. I feel like that’s got to be skirting whatever OSHA minimum workspace requirements exist.

  29. katrine says:

    I’ve been in multiple offices throughout NYC, from design firms to showrooms, and this is extremely common way for the creative class in NYC to work day to day. No one seems to have a problem with it.

    I think most of us would actually find cubicles quite isolating and odd if it weren’t for the way they’ve been naturalized to seem like the only way an office can function.

  30. Amber Urena says:

    Most definitely looking into interning here next summer! What a fabulous work enviroment… I could most definitely get my creative juices flowing at a place like this. x

  31. Marianne says:

    I absolutely love that folding chair. The padded room really gives a feeling of calm – not sure why! Because it’s black, perhaps?

  32. Karen Cano says:

    The office space looks so welcoming!

  33. me parece que es un espacio muy bueno para desarrollar creatividad…es muy comodo, me gustaría mucho poder trabajar alli.

  34. I NEED the chair in the ‘quiet room’… BAD!!

  35. Matt says:

    They’ve moved out of this 6,000 sq foot space at the 6th Floor of 30 Cooper Square since this, into 2 floors of 50,000 sq feet at 225 Broadway near the Woolworth Building.

  36. Absolutly beautiful! In this single piece, you’ve spoken my mind more articulately than I EVER could.

  37. Kate says:

    Amazing! Where’s the place that made the desk stations?? (the link is bad and so interested!)


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