Optimized offices

Husband-and-wife team Sara Mosele Matiz and Juan Carlos Matiz, of Matiz Architecture & Design (MAD), operate with the belief that a space’s structural layout and its aesthetic should not be conceived separately. This is why, since founding their Manhattan-based company in 2002, they have pitched the business as a “360-degree architectural, branding, and design agency.”

“We have a multidisciplinary studio with interior designers, graphic designers, an art director, a branding strategist, and architects,” Juan says. “It’s interesting seeing the different ways our departments communicate. The diversity of opinions helps us end up with really unique results.” He serves as MAD’s head of architecture projects, and Sara oversees the company’s branding and design efforts.

Because of their versatility, the Matiz duo and their 10-person team now have a diverse set of clients that has included such disparate organizations as the Santa Fe Opera and Planned Parenthood. The firm has a particular knack for distinctive office designs, and here it looks back on three of them.

Etsy

New York City

Started
2009

Completed
2010

Size
10,500 square feet

Building Type
Office space

1

A once-shadowy industrial area, DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass) is now a gentrified, post-industrial creative district on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge. And in 2010, Etsy—the preeminent handcrafted-arts internet vendor—hired MAD to design its new offices there. The space emphasizes the do-it-yourself spirit of the online enterprise.

“We were working with a clean column grid in an old warehouse, so not only did we build the space out, but we were able to collaborate with the Etsy teams to select the finishes for all of the spaces within the work areas,” Juan says.

MAD sought out artists from the Etsy database to provide everything from quilted wall coverings to light fixtures to handcrafted elements in order to fill out the white spaces of the office. The medley of interior design flourishes, though resistant to an explicit sense of visual continuity, appropriately reflects the diverse set of artists who make a living selling through Etsy.

“The offices are proximal to subway traffic from the Manhattan Bridge, so we organized the least noise-sensitive areas—the pantry, the creative rooms, the studios—along the bridge-side of the building,” Juan says. “These outer rooms also allow for a more open influence of natural light into the office interior.”

Etsy / PHOTO: TY COLE
Etsy / PHOTO: TY COLE
Etsy / PHOTO: TY COLE

StrawberryFrog Offices

New York City

Started
2010

Completed
2011

Size
10,000 square feet

Building Type
Office space

2

A self-described “cultural movement” ad agency, StrawberryFrog needed offices to match its free-spirited style. In the agency’s two-floor space, adjacent to Madison Square Park, MAD used a red and green color palette and incorporated a central staircase to enhance connectivity between the upper and lower levels. Additionally, the infusion of natural light, custom wood flourishes, and contrasting material elements responds to StrawberryFrog’s need to create an egalitarian workspace promoting openness and collaboration.

“StrawberryFrog has an unconventional way of approaching their campaigns and their clients,” Juan says. “The space reflects that, especially with its loose hierarchical organization and commuter-style personal spaces to encourage interaction between teams at the office.”

Juan sees the staircase as a major reference point for the office because it is near the entrance and “it communicates that you are being presented with a multilevel experience,” he says. The staircase is lined with translucent glass and, reflecting the material diversity of the space, its upper portion incorporates sealed-concrete elements while the lower steps are made of reclaimed timbers from a barn in upstate New York. The staircase lands in an open portion of the lower office, further fostering collaboration and idea-generation among the many employees who pass through the area.

StrawberryFrog Offices / PHOTO: TY COLE
StrawberryFrog Offices / PHOTO: TY COLE
StrawberryFrog Offices / PHOTO: TY COLE

New York University’s Gallatin School

New York City

Started
2011

Completed
2012

Size
3,000 square feet

Building Type
Academic office space

3

New York University (NYU) is one of MAD’s long-standing clients, and it approaches the firm for consultation and project delivery on a wide range of architectural and interior design projects. Recently, MAD completed a smaller-scale project for the university: the faculty offices and meeting spaces at the Gallatin School of Individual Study.

“This is a wing primarily utilized by professors for the school, and it is located in an older, loft-like space on the outskirts of the NYU urban campus,” Juan says. “We performed a meticulous and targeted renovation, which created a central common space with perimeter offices.”

MAD laid a textured wallpaper on the wall in the central space to establish a rhythm and create a visual focal point for the offices. Additionally, the textured surface works with transoms to filter light into the deeper interior spaces of the offices.

“The feature wall was a material exploration for us, allowing us to develop a geometrical pattern out of this three-dimensional, textured wallpaper,” Juan says. “The design reflects the unique sense of creativity and individualism fostered and promoted by the Gallatin School.” ABQ

New York University’s Gallatin School / PHOTO: HIDENAO ABE
New York University’s Gallatin School / PHOTO: HIDENAO ABE