CTA's design of Scentsy's Idaho headquarters: Designer Forum
By Randi Thomas
Heidi and Orville Thompson launched Scentsy, now a well known flameless candle business, out of a shipping container on their farm in 2004. Over the years, the company has grown exponentially, and the Thompsons hired CTA Architects Engineers to design a six-story office building for Scentsy’s new headquarters in Meridian, Idaho.
The multi-disciplinary team at CTA developed a visual concept of a home away from home, dubbed a “greenhouse” for the purpose of “growing healthy employees.” Architecture, interior design and flooring were harmonized to support and enhance the clients’ lofty goals for their space.
The Thompsons are fun people, and they wanted the atmosphere of their work place to be fun as well. Vibrant colors and forms were implemented in the design to invoke energy, playfulness and whimsy. Nods to the classic curve of the corporate logo were subtly interwoven, and circle motifs were carried from floor to ceiling for cohesive design.
Employees are encouraged to take the stairs, which were designed on corners of the building, with full glazing for daylight, and finished out to the level of the office spaces with precast concrete treads, custom perforated risers and carpeted landings. A variety of spaces, including a family room, café, game room, library and an outdoor park, help Scentsy’s team feel at home in their new work environment.
Each space within the 170,000 square feet was treated as a custom project, so there is no repetition between areas. Floor patterns, paint colors and accent materials change and guide the team members and visitors on a sensory-inspiring voyage throughout the building. The project team, including CTA, the general contractor and the owners, met weekly throughout the more than two-year design and construction process to discuss every detail. As would be expected in a truly custom design project, the owners were heavily involved in every aspect.
In general, color inspiration comes primarily from clients’ vision for their space. It starts with a description of what they want their space to be—the overall look and feel of what they are going for. Scentsy’s color palette starts with a base of classic neutral greys, then adds fun, whimsical accents indicative of their playful mood, and layers in a few bold, bright colors inspired by their corporate brands.
Most of the accent colors occur in paint and fabrics, while neutral colors were chosen for the more permanent finishes, like the polished concrete and porcelain tile. There are some pops of color in the floor, though, with carpet incorporating the brights. As is the case with every project, budgetary constraints were a concern, so the brightest pops of color and design were reserved for public and communal spaces. Even so, creative installations transformed standard materials into deceptively high-end finishes.
Deciding whether the floor should be neutral or should incorporate accent colors was difficult. The team knew these spaces would be extremely colorful overall, so it seemed natural to extend the color to the floor. However, the client also wanted timelessness and longevity, so in the end the floors were kept mostly neutral. All hard surface floors were chosen in shades of grey, including: the polished concrete; Stonhard’s poured epoxy flooring; porcelain tile including American Olean’s Avenue One and Studio District and Marazzi’s i Porfidi di Marazzi; Daltile’s Traditional Terrazzo tile; and Forbo’s MCT linoleum tile.
Mainly grey shades were chosen for the carpet tile as well, including Interface’s Sew Straight, Redesign and Walk the Plank, with subtle colored accents woven into open office pathway carpet with Interface’s Primary Stitch, and conference rooms with Masland Contract’s T28GA. This way, accent colors can be changed in the future without disrupting the base building blocks of the space. In the few areas where the design team decided to go crazy with bold patterns and colors, it was achieved with carpet. Interface’s Monochrome forms accents in the circle motifs of the common gathering spaces. Carpet offers easy installation and the potential for unique shapes at affordable prices.
LAYERS OF TEXTURE
CTA’s design team recommends hard or soft surface primarily based on the function of the space and the durability required. Scentsy has hard surface in its high-use public spaces and carpet in most others. Aesthetically, design appears to be trending heavily toward hard surface. The simple, clean lines and urban inspiration have helped expand its popularity, with soft surface being brought in via smaller pops like insets or area rugs. At Scentsy, however, the design team chose not to switch out areas that are traditionally carpet—like open office and corridors—in favor of hard surface. The acoustic properties of carpet were more important than the latest trends in such a densely used work environment.
In fact, acoustics are rapidly becoming a key consideration in workplace design. As spaces get larger and more flooring goes toward hard surface, a space’s acoustics must be even more carefully controlled. Scentsy’s lower plaza public spaces faced this challenge, where heavy food service use dictated the choices of tile and polished concrete flooring, even though acoustics were a challenge that could have been easily remedied with carpet. Flooring performance was a necessity, though, and acoustics were addressed alternatively at the ceiling level.
CTA designers can’t seem to get enough texture. Currently, texture inspiration can be found just about anywhere. Texture, texture, texture—from heavy pile carpet to fun fabric to lighting, it’s everywhere and definitely on trend right now. Texture can also be created. For example, in Scentsy’s main lobby, the design team cut and laid a variety of neutral toned porcelain and terazzo tile in sweeping arcs, and layered a bright area rug over the top. The three products—American Olean’s Avenue One, Daltile’s Traditional Terazzo Tile, and Masland’s wool area rug—worked well together to create a texture unique to this project. Even though this three-product tile circle installation repeats in all the elevator lobbies, each one has a different pattern layout and color placement so that each floor is custom. In the executive offices, the team layered plush Masland area rugs over low-pile carpet tiles, which created their own texture with three shades of Interface’s Walk the Plank in an ombre-herringbone pattern that fade across the floor.
MAINTENANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY
From a maintenance standpoint, selecting the ideal type of flooring for a space is one of the most important decisions a designer makes. Floors take more abuse than any other finish material and require the most time to maintain. Equally important in its selection is cooperation between decision-makers and the facilities staff who will ultimately be caring for the floors. This can make or break a design’s success. If not properly cared for, flooring can be the first place to show wear and tear, so in order to keep the space looking better for longer, it’s important to consider maintenance needs. On the Scentsy project, the integrated team structure allowed for exploration of all of the project decisions and ensured that the selected flooring products would fulfill both performance and maintenance needs.
CTA considers sustainability and acting in the best interest of the environment as simply the right thing to do, so it has become second nature to automatically gravitate toward and select sustainable options. Luckily, the flooring industry has also embraced sustainability, so there are many options from which to choose. The team was lucky to find a client in Scentsy that cares equally about sustainability and a healthy work environment, and the collaboration resulted in attainment of a four Green Globes certification, a first in the state of Idaho.
Flooring contents and performance contributed to Green Globe designation, along with abundant daylighting of office spaces and efficient electrical and mechanical systems. Floorcoverings were chosen for their high recycled content, and durable products like porcelain and concrete were placed in high traffic areas for longer lifecycle. Walk-off carpet was utilized at the main entrances to reduce maintenance and particulates in the air, and low maintenance flooring selections throughout the building eliminate the need for harsh chemicals. All carpet chosen for the project is Green Label Plus for low chemical emissions.
The keynote “fun” space of the building is designed to be a departure from the general office. A place for employees to get away and recharge, the lower plaza level includes a “family room,” a cafeteria and dining area, and a “streetscape” that houses the game room, convenience store, café and movie theater. These areas are treated entirely differently from the office spaces. The streetscape features “manholes” and stained polished concrete, forming a street-like pathway from end to end, with Marazzi’s i Porfidi di Marazzi tile for the plaza and lights strung overhead. Each room off of the streetscape is treated as a different frontage, further transporting users.
The family room is modern and edgy, creating a cool on-site restaurant experience. It seats almost 300 people, so the design team needed to create smaller, more intimate spaces within, and flooring offered the perfect way to do that. The walkways are polished concrete, and each seating group has a different carpet, including Mannington’s Continuity Tile, Shaw Contract’s Electronica Tile and Mirror Image Tile, Interface’s Primary Stitch, and Masland’s Silk Road. One additional space also has Teragren’s Signature Naturals bamboo flooring.
In all, the Scentsy project was an inspired collaboration between client and design team, leading to phenomenal results that are colorful, durable, timeless and, in no small measure, fun. Budgetary constraints and acoustical concerns were identified and overcome, and tough decisions were made regarding ideal flooring type. Ultimately everything came together to create an office environment in which the Scentsy business and its large team of Idaho employees can thrive for a long time to come.
Copyright 2015 Floor Focus