Change on a Dime

Design Blitz creates a trendy, hospitality-influenced home base for Pocket Change on a tight timeline and an even tighter budget.

11/01/2013 By Adam Moore
Photography by Design Blitz

You’ll find plenty of tech companies with imaginative and stimulating offices in California’s Bay Area, but very few of those spaces are designed to be noticed by the outside world. For Pocket Change, the start-up behind an innovative app-based loyalty currency, that was precisely the point.

Located in San Francisco’s trending SoMa (South of Market Street) neighborhood and built at street level in a former art gallery, Pocket Change’s new 5,000-square-foot office is intended to introduce the brand to the public while also providing employees with a comfortable place to work.

“It isn’t often that a company gets a street presence like this,” says designer Amanda Eckes of Design Blitz, the young SF-based interiors and branding firm selected for the project. “The fact that Pocket Change had such a visible location made them want to take advantage of it.”

The building’s large, front-facing windows and classic brick walls played a large part in the design team’s strategy, allowing them to create a “bar-type, hospitality-forward atmosphere” while also respecting the project’s tight budget and timeline.

The space is now fronted by custom neon signage and a stripped down but fully functional bar that’s visible from the street. The office also includes a communal area for family-style dining, and a chalkboard-painted wall in the breakout area that injects a shot of personality and color into the space while also serving as a guestbook at events.

The brand’s signature yellow is splashed throughout, from the rustic moose trophy on the wall to the large, graffiti-inspired graphic backing the open office workspace, developed in collaboration between Blitz and Pocket Change’s in-house graphic artist. “We chose some quirky art pieces, which created a graphic, urban, slightly steampunk aesthetic,” Eckes says. “The cool factor contributes to two key metrics of success for any project: recruitment and retention.”

Blitz relied on several other techniques to keep the cool factor high and costs low, including limiting the use of noise-reducing finishes such as carpet tiles from Interface Flor, industrial-grade felt and grass turf to select areas, and strategically placing small but impactful design vignettes throughout the space. Residentially inspired finishes and retail furnishings, including couches, chairs, tables and rugs, give the office a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

Completed in less than six weeks, the new Pocket Change offices are proof that it doesn’t take a fortune or an extended schedule to create a functional workplace that also acts as an extension of the brand—it just takes a little creativity and a willingness to work harder.

“Our size is a huge advantage,” says Blitz CEO Melissa Wallin. “Our team is comprised of driven and incredibly talented people. Our projects are fast, intense and need to be great every single time. It takes a specific personality to keep up with this work flow.”