Hattery’s strength is its culture of collaboration, creative immersion, flexibility, and consideration for personal and team health. The spaces we occupy are vital forces in shaping this ethos, as they influence how people think, meet, and create.
A dedication to craftsmanship — without sacrificing efficiency — is a core Hattery value that informed the way we approached the buildout of our space, from the way we worked with the team and with architects to the way we sourced and repurposed materials.
The original Hattery team worked around particle-board and sawhorse tables in Soup, our current kitchen. When the team got too big, the second floor was built out to create a beautiful, open space that could be reinvented daily. We pride ourselves on regularly hacking the existing framework to make it work for us — from building custom desks out of wood harvested from our own building, to fastening casters to every piece of furniture for maximum flexibility.
By December of 2012, Hattery had grown to almost thirty, and along with our resident startup teams, we were ready to expand to the first floor. The space was formerly a gym, where the sounds of heavy weights dropped on concrete floors still seemed to resonate loudly. It was dark, cold, and unsuited for inspiring innovation.
Rather than hiring an architecture firm and general contractor to manage the build-out from afar, I was hired as an in-house studio design coordinator. This unique approach allowed me to be a part of the team, to understand their dynamic needs (from the practical to the wistful), and to design from the inside. I worked closely with architect Wayne Leong of Leong Architects and the Hattery team — specifically Joshua To, who established the functional requirements and guided the vision and development of the aesthetic.
Together, we began to distill our spatial needs, picking apart the pieces to find out was working in personal, collaborative, and social spaces, and what we could improve.
We set ourselves up to design and build in the same space, at the same time — a rare and precious opportunity. Unlike most architectural flows, which operate as linear waterfall processes, we proceeded with a dynamic, flexible approach. At Hattery the designers and engineers sit together in order to solve problems efficiently, and we work dynamically with our clients and portfolio companies. In the same way, I was able to work alongside my contractors to see and fix problems immediately rather than months down the line. I learned on the fly to become a fast expert in establishing level sub-floors over sloping concrete, finding square footage in distant corners, and resolving data paths.
We sandblasted all of the concrete on the first floor, ridding it of plaster and paint, and exposing the texture and character underneath. We fabricated door handles from threaded pipe and fittings. Rather than replacing a sea of light fixtures, we repainted the ceilings to effectively reflect light and raised the existing fixtures to nestle between beams. We found light. This build-out was not about creating something entirely new, but rather uncovering, exposing, and repurposing.
The light, square footage, and room divisions form the foundation of our workspace — but just as important are the custom details in creative spaces, which I’ll be discussing in my next post. We have built the bones for our workshop, and will continue to hack, develop, and modify this space in parallel with our own growth and evolution.