Designed Chaos at Chaotic Moon

Tech firm Chaotic Moon keeps Austin weird and its employees happy with its newly renovated office.


By Elianne Halbersberg 
Photography by Patrick Wong

The city of Austin has long been held up as an oasis of culture and innovation in the heart of the Southwest, thanks to the mixing of tech-savvy graduates from the University of Texas and “weirder” individuals originating from its vibrant and eclectic art scene. It’s an environment that encourages exploration and celebrates independence, making it a prime location for cutting-edge tech companies like Chaotic Moon.

A custom software and mobile developer that counts Pizza Hut, Disney, Toyota, and Whole Foods as clients, Chaotic Moon recently expanded its headquarters in the heart of downtown Austin, in a 20,000-square-foot historic building on the bustling Congress Avenue.

“They wanted to convey a fun, interactive community for their employees that celebrates life and makes work enjoyable,” said interior designer Amber Branham with Sixthriver Architects, the firm selected to overhaul the space. “They also wanted a collaborative, creative space where clients can come in and feel comfortable.”

Sixthriver tore the space down “to the bare bones,” according to Branham, removing everything from the dropped ceilings to the plaster covering the building’s brick walls and windows—some of which dated back to the 1800s. The design team then installed an open floorplan, complete with 12 interior offices and four conference rooms. Two of the conference rooms feature glass walls facing Congress Avenue, which brings more natural light into the building and highlights the office’s bright red and teal accent colors.

A new break room includes a refrigerator, kegerator, a large flat-screen monitor for video gaming, and two custom banquettes.

The centerpiece of the design is a cantilevered, glass-enclosed conference room anchoring the middle of the floorplate that actually grew out of one of the project’s primary challenges. The space had originally been three separate buildings—319 Congress, 323 Congress, and an addition to 323—but had been connected into one large area years prior; unfortunately, elevation differences between the various floors still existed, and required the design team to exercise some innovative thinking of their own to bridge the spaces. The result is a “floating” conference room that appears to emerge from the 323 space and move into 319.

“It’s almost like you’re pulling this bright glass box from one space to the next,” said Branham. “Because of the dark black flooring and a 2-foot reveal where the room is boxed out, it recesses underneath the flooring and it’s all painted black. So while it’s not actually cantilevered, it creates that look.”

Once Sixthriver had completed the redesign, Chaotic Moon brought in their existing furnishings and installed a series of vibrant, colorful wallcoverings. The final result is a hyper-modern workspace in a centuries-old building that truly typifies the city’s ethos of eclectic experimentation. “It’s something we’re trying to push as designers and as a firm in general—to be able to go down to the bare bones of the architecture and celebrate the space as it was intended to be,” said Branham.