Nestled in the gray and white of New York City’s Flatiron District is an oasis of color. Above the city street, you can find Poppin’s headquarters and showroom. The brand has grown rapidly from its inception, selling 627 “work happy” SKUs—vibrant staplers, pen caddies, notebooks, anything needed to get a day’s work done. Recently, the company has extended into creating simple go-to furniture with the same eye to simple, cost-efficient designs, which can be constructed and relocated without a team. In today’s time-is-money office environments, relying on a facilities manager or pulling additional help from their computers just doesn’t make sense sometimes.
As a favorite amongst start-up entities, Poppin made the no-brainer move to open a second showroom in San Francisco. Its products are often chosen by companies that are looking for inexpensive, laid-back goods that can do double—or sometimes quadruple—duty within the office, growing and transforming to meet varied needs.
Recognizing that environments are as individual as the members of a team, the group at Poppin didn’t just transplant a clone of its New York showroom to The City by the Bay. Instead, explained Jeff Miller, vice president of product design, the design of San Francisco’s showroom was more purposeful with “a good stable of products,” while NYC’s space grew up alongside the company. In the spirit of cordial East Coast vs. West Coast rivalries, i+s takes a look at the sister showrooms, and what makes them each unique.
Because the New York showroom sits across the hall from the floor-to-ceiling windows of Poppin’s bustling headquarters, there can be a bit of confusion regarding whether the space is meant to be a place for designers or an extension of the company’s offices. Truth be told, it’s a stand-in for both, giving employees an area to get away or come together over a game of table tennis (on Poppin’s Series A Conference Table that transforms into a ping-pong court), and for visitors to peruse the wares.
The use of space hits upon two growing trends in the industry: adaptation of interiors as needed on a minute-by-minute basis, and providing physical interactions for a consumer population that is increasingly specifying and ordering online. Studies show that the “online vs. brick-and-mortar” question that has grown over the last two decades isn’t that cut-and-dry. Instead, consumers tend to prefer to do their product research and purchasing online, but will make the trek to stores to test out goods in person.
While the Manhattan space fits into the somewhat chaotic grind of the workscape where any place can become an office, the San Francisco showroom was built with much more intention and an eye on start-up culture. Located in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, just a quick walk from both AT&T Park and the design district, the West Coast location has quickly settled into the landscape.
“[San Francisco] is much more like a storefront [than New York], so we had to play with the idea of, ‘Are we going to make it a true storefront that anyone can walk into, or is it by appointment only?’” Miller explained. “Our business model is much more set up to be by appointment—there’s no retail purchase that can happen if someone walks in off the street, but we do like the aspect that it feels more like a storefront. It’s more lofty, bright, and welcoming.”
LT Taylor, senior PR and events manager, added that right away the showroom had foot traffic with curious office managers and designers who wandered in to check out the bright supplies and furnishings.
Poppin’s New York showroom capitalizes by providing vignettes that mimic its headquarters. Designers and business leaders have the opportunity to use the products they have most likely already researched as they would in an office setting. “Seeing is believing for us,” Taylor said. While Poppin garners attention with an interactive and clean website, and the rainbow of colors in which its offerings are available, the selling points rest squarely on how they work and whether they can fit into the ever-growing demands a company can run up against.
And, if designers get into a groove and find themselves using the showroom to get additional work done, it’s prepared to accommodate New York’s ambitious work ethics.
Unlike the New York location where the only additional display units are a handful of bookcases on which sit rows of its desktop products, the Poppin team wanted to create a display that could be easily transformed on an as-needed basis. A peg-board (not pictured) fit the bill perfectly, allowing visitors to hang product as necessary in a variety of configurations that can be switched out by a single person in a moment’s notice. Otherwise, the showroom combines purposeful vignettes where users can test out the products, in addition to window displays.
Photography courtesy of Poppin