Yves Béhar Creates the High-Design Answer to a Shared Work Space
With CANOPY, the designer imagines a workplace befitting an aesthete—no Foosball tables allowed
It seems there’s nothing Yves Béhar will not touch. The designer has made his mark on electronics (Jawbone’s Jambox) and home security (August’s smart lock) and earlier this month looked to a younger clientele with the launch of robotic crib Snoo. His latest project takes on an area in which many renowned designers and manufacturers have dabbled: the workplace. From Robert Propst’s original cubicle design for Herman Miller in 1960 to the open-concept offices of the Silicon Valley set favored over the past ten years, the workplace has proved fertile ground for design concepts aiming to increase productivity and happiness in varying degrees. This month Béhar debuted CANOPY, a coworking space, in San Francisco‘s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The workplace, which Béhar designed with partners Amir Mortazavi and Steve Mohebi, focuses on form and function through the lens of high design, and furnishings by Joe Colombo, Herman Miller, and Vitra fill the sun-soaked space. The design will host CANOPY’s concierge-style workplace program, which costs members anywhere from $650 to $5,500 monthly, depending on the plan. AD caught up with Béhar to hear more about CANOPY’s concept, the importance of design in the workplace, and why you’ll never see a Foosball table in this office.
Architectural Digest: Can you talk more about this being a “high-design” work space, and what that means?
Yves Béhar: Being a design-focused setup means that we have taken extraordinary care to provide people with the best functional, ergonomic, and emotional space for them to do their best work. The space is a combination of intimate and private work spaces, but with the ability to collaborate throughout the office. Our aim was to create a “work nirvana” environment, one that would combine the practical with the inspiring.
AD: How do you feel aesthetics play into productivity?
YB: I think the visual language of CANOPY is one of refinement, intelligence, and sophistication. There is a visual clarity that comes from the straight steel framing of the private offices and conference room. There is intelligence in how the furniture provides comfort and practicality throughout. And there is a sensuous sophistication in the overall color palette and the sculptural lounge furniture from Don Chadwick and Joe Colombo. These elements combined support one’s work and productivity in the entire space and allow people to work in different settings depending on their needs and mood.
__AD:__How is this space different than other coworking spaces?
__YB:__Most other coworking spaces are catering to younger members with a majority of tech skills, but CANOPY is for members that care about two things: the efficiency and quality of their work, and being surrounded by a diverse community of professionals. Needless to say, there are no Foosball tables at CANOPY!
Amir Mortazavi: CANOPY is a boutique space, allowing for intimacy, personalized concierge-style service, and a true sense of identity. We designed CANOPY to be peaceful and engaging—using desaturated tones and a cohesive theme—rather than a space plagued by detrimental visual noise, which is created by the funky environments and dozens of colors used in so many mammoth-size coworking spaces.
__AD:__What’s unique about your process for designing a workplace, specifically?
YB: I have been designing office furniture and office systems for almost 15 years with Herman Miller. Having explored the many needs and configurations an office should have, it was exciting to design a boutique-size space that can accommodate various work needs and work styles. For me, an office needs many different work settings, with a variety of comfort and work-style ergonomics available. At CANOPY we want people to move about and have a work environment that adapts to these different postures and needs throughout the day.
AM: The architectural design took into account elements that can be detrimental to people’s quality of work, incorporating skylights angled north to avoid direct sunlight on computer screens and custom-made chandeliers carved out of high-density foam to help with noise abatement. We also designed the space to allow for natural light to penetrate from five sides, giving people a connection to the outdoors and benefiting productivity.
__AD:__What kind of professionals use CANOPY?
YB: They are generally mid-career, and are making a choice to walk to work instead of commuting. They are excited to work on their own projects and companies versus the corporate environment, and want a professional environment to be proud of. Currently, we are very happy with the diversity of our members, who are from creative industries, nonprofits, VC and finance, art, services, fashion, and PR.