A Cut Above

As a growing start-up, Harry’s is always receiving guests—from potential employees to journalists to investors. In the old space, which was teeming with people and stuff, there were no places to entertain or even have a private conversation with visitors, a reflection of the organization’s very informal approach to work. But during the discovery process, Harry’s employees unanimously expressed a desire to become more formal in character. Not suits and ties formal, but more organized, refined, and ready to host at a moment’s notice.
An elegant meeting space near the reception area of the new office is helping them do just that. Outfitted with Eames Aluminum Group Chairs, a large monitor and whiteboard, and glass walls that, unlike the walls of its last conference room, fully extent to the ceiling, it’s a place where Harry’s executives can proudly meet with investors and important guests. The executive team sits at a nearby AGL Table. They asked to be positioned near the front of the office, and out in the open, to encourage people to stop by for quick chats about projects or their plans for the weekend. In this way, the new office is designed to preserve the informal vibe that distinguished Harry’s culture early on, while supporting the more structured activity necessary to sustain its rapid growth.

Easy collaboration between employees has always played a major role in Harry’s rapid growth. At its former office, conversations came at a cost to everyone else: distraction. Now, when quick chats in the main work space grow into longer discussions, colleagues can relocate to an arrangement of Public Office Landscape seating and tables. A screen divides the space from the rest of the office, so groups can work together without distracting others. And when individual pursuits—private phone calls, complicated design problems—require a higher degree of contemplation, people can work in one of several small, enclosed meeting rooms.

A grouping of long Layout Studio benches with Sayl Chairs called a Hive Setting enables Product Development and Digital teams who work there to easily transition between individual work and the quick chats with colleagues that keep them connected to the bigger picture. These larger design choices as well as smaller details—a pop of blue from Harry’s logo on the legs of the desks, on the fabric of a sofa, and in the wall décor—bring the Harry’s brand to life in the space.

When the staff at Harry’s thought about Meeting Spaces for the new office, they asked themselves questions such as, “Why do we have meetings?” “What do we do when we meet?” “What tools do we need to share our ideas?” The answers to these questions were so varied that the design team planned a variety of settings for group work—from more traditional Meetings Spaces where entire teams have weekly updates, to project rooms where small groups can spread out, get messy, and develop ideas. 

When it’s easy for people to have conversations, it’s easy for them to stay connected, share ideas, and solve problems. And since the discovery process revealed that innovation is a top priority for Harry’s, its new office has plenty of places for people to meet (and not just rooms that you have to reserve). In this working neighborhood, called a Clubhouse, members of the Graphic Design team can comfortably gather around curved Locale work surfaces to share screens and discuss new campaigns. All of the work surfaces are height adjustable, encouraging people to vary their postures throughout the day. If a few team members want to get away from the workspace to have a casual conversation without the distraction of technology, they can move to a nearby Cove, outfitted with Eames Shell Chairs and a comfortable sofa.

From impressing prospective hires and investors to facilitating more productive encounters between employees to promoting its brand, Harry’s new workplace is a valuable asset that’s helping them grow in ways that are difficult to measure—but not impossible, it turns out. Check back soon to see how Herman Miller’s research team is working with Harry’s to substantiate the impact of its Living Office on its people and business. 

- excerpt from Herman Miller's WHY Magaizine


Josh Stewart

Josh is the Chief Creative / Partner at Hook Creative.