Sparking joy: 6 LA office spaces that spark the imagination, delight — and support good work

by Hannah Levy
March 19, 2019
FFF
photo via HYFN

Marie Kondo captured the attention of the world with the idea that people should only hold onto items that spark joy. And while this idea is most often used to guilt family members and significant others into purging the heaps of things they don’t need, the larger idea is an interesting one: Items and spaces can and should spark joy. 

For many years and in many industries, corporate offices have sparked something about as far from joy as emotions come: boredom, fatigue, perhaps even resentment. You know these offices — just walking in the door leaves you in need a caffeine jolt. These stodgy workplaces have many a lesson to learn from the office designs dominating LA tech right now, where the office makeup is, well, an entirely different story. 

From industrial chic to breezy mid-century modern, LA tech companies are building dynamic spaces that spark the imagination — places employees actually look forward to coming to every day. What could be more joyful than that?

 

Edmunds office
photo via edmunds
Edmunds office
photo via edmunds
Edmunds office
photo via edmunds

Edmunds was a tech company before “tech” was a thing — and the history of that journey is visible everywhere in the company’s Santa Monica office, from the conference rooms to the coffee area. The company, which started as a publisher of printed car guides in the ‘60s and transitioned online in 1995 (the first car company to do so), designed a space that seamlessly blends old and new. The office features ultra modern accommodations adorned in symbols from the company’s past: Cadillac nitro-brew stations, cars hanging from ceilings, giant wrap-around staircases and more.

Edmunds CEO Avi Steinlauf joined us to discuss this amazing space — and how it shapes the way the people in it work.

Our office is the physical manifestation of the Edmunds brand and our unique culture, and was designed to be a place our employees are proud of and feel excited to spend time in.

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?

Our office is the physical manifestation of the Edmunds brand and our unique culture, and was designed to be a place our employees are proud of and feel excited to spend time in. From a functional point of view, our main priority was on fostering collaboration. The entire first floor is conference rooms and common space, punctuated by our central indoor-outdoor “great room” where employees can grab a coffee, enjoy lunch or just have an informal meeting. And while everyone has a dedicated workspace on the second floor, it’s an open environment where no one has an office (including me!), so it’s easy to have a quick conversation or find someone to help solve a challenge.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

While we’re one of Silicon Beach’s most tenured tech companies, our industry focus is clearly automotive so we really celebrate car culture in the space. The most obvious examples are the 1966 and 2016 wheel-to-wheel rotating Corvettes above our reception desk, but you’ll find little details everywhere — from the 1948 Cadillac Fleetwood we’ve converted to a beer and cold-brew coffee bar, to the mosaic of our logo made from 2,400 Matchbox cars.

However, the most talked about feature in our office has to be the 32-foot-long custom stainless-steel twisty slide between our first and second floors. It’s arguably the fastest and most fun way to get downstairs, and taking a ride down the slide has become a rite of passage for visitors.

 

FAB FIT FUN OFFICE
PHOTO VIA FABFITFUN
FAB FIT FUN OFFICE
PHOTO VIA SHUTTERSTOCK
FAB FIT FUN
PHOTO VIA FAB FIT FUN

The FabFitFun headquarters in West Hollywood is a lot like the company’s seasonal boxes: whimsical, stylish and useful. The space is part office, part studio, and decorated throughout with trendy accent after trendy accent. The company, which has over 1 million subscribers, partners with some of the biggest lifestyle brands in town and has even launched a few of its own in-house products. 

Here’s what FFF’s director of workplace solutions, Seth Bartholomew, told us about the company’s stylish West Hollywood space. 

We’re right in the heart of West Hollywood — close to everything!

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?

While the space wasn’t designed for FabFitFun when we moved in, we’ve built it out to accommodate our needs, and now the entire building is devoted to our office. Because we’ve grown so much, we’ve recently expanded to a second office and are in the process of acquiring a bigger space that will accommodate all our employees in one place and is built out to our specific needs. Our primary HQ is now also home to FabFitFun studios and the teams that support all the great content we are creating.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

It’s hard to pick just one thing! For some employees, it’s catered lunches and breakfasts, and our endless supply of snacks. For others, it’s the central location: We’re right in the heart of West Hollywood — close to everything! We’re also a dog-friendly office, so for many of our employees the ability to bring their furry friends to work is a game changer.

 

TTD OFFICE
PHOTO VIA THE TRADE DESK
TTD OFFICE
PHOTO VIA THE TRADE DESK
TTD OFFICE
PHOTO VIA THE TRADE DESK

We’ve all played ping pong in the break room — but few of us can boast having done so in the middle of the meeting. The folks at The Trade Desk’s Irvine location can — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s little not to be astonished by at The Trade Desk’s office. From floor to ceiling windows to mid-century modern seating, the whole building is awash in the stuff of inspiration and delight. And behind that sophisticated office space is an equally sophisticated company — one that powers advertisers with the technology they need to manage complicated, multi-channel campaigns.

Here’s what Sairaj Uddin, Trade Desk’s director of engineering, told us about the company’s enviable SoCal space.

We’re lucky that the building has huge windows and an abundance of natural light, which are a major mood lifter for everyone in the office.

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?

Once we selected a building that was centrally located in Irvine and boasted awesome amenities, we wanted the space to spark natural collaboration. To do that, we made sure to create a nice mix of social spaces for large groups, as well as private spaces that allow for focused concentration. We also wanted to ensure the office stayed fun, so we designed a ping pong conference room (with whiteboards in case inspiration strikes) and a meditation and wellness room. We’re lucky that the building has huge windows and an abundance of natural light, which are a major mood lifter for everyone in the office.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

Every employee gets a free in-building gym membership featuring regular yoga and cycling classes — plus towel service! There’s also a car wash and dry cleaning service inside the building’s garage. These perks makes it easier for people to integrate work and life.

 

HyFn office
photo via hyfn
HyFn office
photo via hyfn
HyFn office
photo hyfn

Brilliant, hip and a little bit daring, HYFN’s space is a lot like its workforce. The company, which is composed of an award-winning group of strategists, human behavior analysts, creators and amplifiers, moved from Hermosa Beach to Playa Vista (the beating heart of Silicon Beach) in the summer of 2017. The adtech company’s new space maintains the beachy vibes of its past, plus ample space and homey touches. That includes an outdoor mixed-use garage that doubles as both a content studio and occasional sumo wrestling ring. At the end of the day it’s a space where people come together, and that’s what HYFN is all about.

Here’s what the team told us about their rad Playa Vista pad.

We knew our next space would have to not only allow for collaboration but inspire it.

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?

At HYFN, collaboration is the name of the game. We knew our next space would have to not only allow for collaboration but inspire it. An open floor plan between departments, along with a plethora of inviting spaces for working and strategizing became a must. Aside from the functionality, we wanted this new space to feel like home.

Equal parts work and play may be the best way to describe the design of our new Playa Vista home. With our roots in Hermosa Beach, it’s no surprise that our conference rooms are named after South Bay bars or that ‘surfboard-chic’ became our office aesthetic.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

Hands down, the back garage area. To quickly set the scene: It’s roughly a 900-square-foot industrial space that on any given day can act as a content studio, brainstorm base, ping pong court or Mario Kart arena. We gather, we game, we collaborate, and every now and then we’ll set up a sumo wrestling court. (True story.) The versatility the space allows is truly invaluable in our day-to-day work.

 
gimbal office
photo via gimbal
Gimbal office
photo via gimbal
Gimbal office
photo via gimbal

Location is everything. The team at Gimbal trades on this principle for a living. (The company’s marketing and advertising automation platform uses location data to drive insights for customers and better experiences for consumers.) Location is so deeply embedded into the company’s DNA that it even determined their office site. To find Gimbal’s forever home, the company measured team members’ addresses and commute times to find a spot that suited everyone equally (or roughy so). That process led Gimbal to The Row DTLA, a trendy mixed-use space in the heart of the Arts District. Needless to say, they couldn’t have done better. Balancing on the high wire between comfort and style, Gimbal’s space is as adaptable as it is lovely.

Here’s how Gimbal’s COO Matt Russo thinks about the finished product.

We take for granted how much amazing light pours into the space, but every time a visitor or partner stops by, it’s the first thing they comment on.

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?

We spent a lot of time analyzing our team’s home addresses and took average and median drive times into account before selecting the ROW as our corporate HQ. Granted, you can’t make everyone happy all the time (looking at you, Westside employees), but we knew the benefits of being in an awesome space that everyone loves would be enough to offset the downside of a slightly longer commute.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

The windows. We take for granted how much amazing light pours into the space, but every time a visitor or partner stops by, it’s the first thing they comment on. From any point in the office, you can look outside and see other parts of the ROW, the LA Wholesale Fruit Market and a great view of Downtown LA.

Core Digital office
photo via core digital
Core DIg office
photo via core digital
Core Digital office
photo via core digital

Core Digital Media helps companies reach their ideal audiences through a diverse group of online properties. That same diversity is at play in the company’s Playa Vista office space — from a crowded beachfront photo backdrop to brightly colored block letters that span entire walls. The company has been around since 1999 and continues to be a leader in their space, but it’s not all work at Core Digital. The company’s break room comprises around a quarter of the office and includes a ping pong table, interactive games, couches, TVs and more. 

Here’s what Core Digital’s senior recruitment manager Matt Ennis told us about the company’s Playa Vista space.

The Core Digital Media break room is approximately a fourth of our entire office space.

 

What was the most important consideration for your team in designing the space?  

Providing a comfortable space that inspires our team members to be their absolute best selves.

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

The break room, definitely. The Core Digital Media break room is approximately a fourth of our entire office space. It includes picnic-style lunch tables, interactive games, TVs and a lounge area — something to offer everyone.

 

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