Pinterest's San Francisco headquarters
by All of the Above and First Office

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Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above_dezeen_20

The new San Francisco headquarters for photo-sharing website Pinterest is housed in a converted warehouse filled with two-storey white volumes.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

New York designers All of the Above and Los Angeles studio First Office were originally asked to design an office for Pinterest's growing team of twelve. However they were called back by the social media company and told that its staff numbers were burgeoning faster than anticipated.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

"The company had exploded," said All of the Above, "Pinterest had tripled in size and the partners found a 45,000-square-foot warehouse in San Francisco that could easily fit 300 people."

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

The designers added four white cuboids stretching from the floor to the roof of the former industrial space, connected by a steel mezzanine level used as an open-plan work and dining space.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

"Big volumes that we called houses create pockets within the open warehouse," said the team. "Different monumental tables would require for people to invent new ways of organising a meeting, occupying a war room, coming together for a collective lunch or throwing a party at the bar."

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

Each house serves two functions, for example, one includes a transparent meeting room on the ground floor and hosts a bar for the staff canteen on level above.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

Circular and rectangular tables were purpose built for different types of meetings. Flexible desk arrangements and service areas fill the spaces surrounding the enclosed volumes.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

The white and glass surfaces can be used as white boards, pinboards and graffiti walls for employees to share ideas.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office

Internet companies often opt for adventurous office interiors. Evernote's workspace includes staircases with built-in seating and Google's base in Tel-Aviv is filled with orange trees. We also recently reported that Frank Gehry is to design Facebook's headquarters in London and Dublin.

Photography by Naho Kubota.

Here is some more information from the designers:


Pinterest Office Headquarters

When we first met with Pinterest, it was to discuss their office in Palo Alto. There were 12 people in the group, but they were growing quickly. Evan and Ben, Pinterest's founders, asked us to design an office environment that could reflect their unorthodox character and growth.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Ground floor plan- click for larger image

Our response was through monumentality. Rather than buying a desk for every new engineer, we proposed one large table that would reach maximum capacity over a long period of time. It measured 32' x 32', and could easily fit sixty people. The table went into production, when we were called in for another meeting.

The company had exploded. Pinterest had tripled in size and the partners found a 45,000-square-foot warehouse in San Francisco that could easily fit 300 people. They wanted a space that would be in a perpetual state of creation. No matter how big the company got, designers and engineers would feel encouraged to contribute their best ideas, to fill in the blank, to decorate, destroy, and exhibit again. We understood, that like the website itself, the office environment would have to offer an abstract framework within which collaborative, social, and emotional relationships could begin to form and transform the architectural space.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
First floor plan- click for larger image

To our next meeting, we brought a plan, a model, and a quote—not a price quote, which we are sure they would have preferred—but a quote from the short formalist essay, "Art as Technique," from 1917, by the literary theorist, Victor Shklovsky:

"Habituation devours works, clothes, furniture, one's wife, and the fear of war. 'If the whole complex lives of many people go unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been.' The technique of art is to make objects 'unfamiliar', to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged."

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Cross section

We argued that a creative office cannot function on terms of efficiency, connectivity and productivity alone. For each person to take part in the creation of company culture, we would need to counter the habitual environment of the desk, the conference room, and the corner office. The idea of a non-habitual office space continued certain qualities of the initial house where Pinterest was born. There were no cubicles or hierarchies, just a domestic interior transformed by tech loving young people into a workplace.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Vertical oblique drawings of the tables

With these thoughts in mind, we designed a catalog of strange objects. Big volumes that we called "houses" would create pockets within the open warehouse. Different monumental tables would require for people to invent new ways of organising a meeting, occupying a war room, coming together for a collective lunch or throwing a party at the bar.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Vertical oblique drawings of the four volumes

Even the most democratic, circular table, in inverse, would become a lock-down room for engineers on a deadline. All around, white and glass surfaces would turn into white boards, pinboards, and graffiti walls. The domestic interior would grow thick with objects, sketches and ideas formed through social contact.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Photographs of the table models

We placed four houses into the warehouse, forming at its centre a big, gathering space and at its edges a thick infrastructural corridor with service spaces that are variously expansive and compressed. We hope people will see opportunity here to chat with their coworkers, go deep into their work, enjoy the heat of the sun or a darkened room, and let the blood rush to their heads.

Pinterest Headquarters by All of the Above and First Office
Photographs of the houses models

Project Designers: All of the Above / First Office
Architects: Schwartz and Architecture
Pinterest Team: Everett Katigbak and Per Johansson
Project Manager: Gina Caruso, Relocations Connections, Inc.
Contractor: NOVO Construction
Structural Engineer: Yu Structural Engineers
Furniture Designer: One Workplace
Lighting Designer: Pritchard Peck

  • M.S.

    This is a far more elegant and refined interior design than I’ve seen in most tech company offices. Good on Pinterest for not commissioning something silly and “dot-com-ish” and good on the designers for not proposing the same.

    • Tyler

      I agree, a nice project. Very well done. A great example of a conceptual approach to space planning implemented effectively without being candy-coated like most tech space. Kudos to the architects.

      But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Pinterest – the company getting filthy rich for enabling people to swipe creative content – should NOT be praised for doing something original.

      As a side note, does anyone else remember when Kinko’s wouldn’t allow you to photocopy pages from a book so as to protect intellectual property and copyright? I’m feeling strangely nostalgic for that show of respect to the authorship of creative content.

      • M.S.

        Interesting point about Kinko’s. A counter-example: the ripping of audio from FM to cassette, or TV to VHS, became very normalized after a while; the ethics conversation sort of disappeared.

        I would argue, however, that Pinterest’s aggregation of public images is more akin to clipping photos out of magazines. There’s nothing a user can really “do” with these “pins.”

  • Samuel

    How are they cleaning the big tables?