When you think about the offices of a company that buys used cars, the image that likely pops up is a ramshackle hut with a parking lot full of rusty clunkers. The home base of Peddle.com however, defies expectations.
Perched on the top floor of the circa-1940s Buttrey Building on West Sixth Street, the sleek yet comfortable space looks more like a chic party loft than a place of business. That is exactly what founder and CEO Tim Yarosh was going for when he hired designer Joel Mozersky of One Eleven Design and architect Kevin Alter of Alterstudio Architects.
Yarosh moved the company, which used to be called JunkMyCar.com, to Austin from Connecticut in January 2011, after a fortuitous visit.
“It’s an amazing place,” said Yarosh. “I came down for South by Southwest and just fell in love with it.”
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Austin is a creative tech town. While the CEO struggled to find the right people to work for him in Connecticut, he said Austin has been a treasure trove of talent. Talent he wants to keep healthy, happy and feeling creative during long, busy days at the office.
With that in mind, Alter and Mozersky set out to create a tech-savvy workplace with cool workstations, multiple meeting, conference and lounge areas, a killer gourmet kitchen, comfy cafeteria with a game space and open executive offices that expand and reconfigure with ease.
Yarosh put his faith in Mozersky and Alter and gave them free reign over the space, which the company moved into in October.
“It had amazing bones already — some crumbling rock walls, a great wood ceiling and I-beams running through the entire space,” said Mozersky, who is known for his work in countless bar and restaurant spaces all over Austin, including Uchi, Gibson and the new Freedman’s near the University of Texas, to name a few. “We wanted to keep the rough elements intact, but juxtapose them with smooth elements as well. It had a great industrial feel, and we didn’t want to make the space too slick.”
The tone is set as soon as you walk through the doors. A reception desk, designed by Alterstudio Architects and made by Litmus Industries, pairs a faux leather top with powder-coated white steel, which Mozersky says embodies all of the sleek versus rustic elements he and Alter worked to highlight in the space.
“Their primary goal was to make a great space,” said Alter. “The kind of office they wanted to create was the nature of the business: inspiring, creative. So our challenge, was how do you make something that will meet all of the functional demands and be inspiring?”
The building was one Alter had admired for 20 years. “It had a beautiful rawness and a beautiful patina,” he said. “It had a character you can’t compose. It’s that Japanese aesthetic, Wabi Sabi, where serendipity is prized over composition. The main things we were focused on was how to pull out the beautiful things of the space and get rid of the things that weren’t.”
The building had a lot of work that needed to be done, including heating and air conditioning, sprinklers and bathrooms, Alter said. They pushed the bathrooms and kitchen to one side to keep the rest of it open. They wanted people to come off the elevator and be transported to “someplace amazing. We wanted a special space that gave you the impression that this is a creative enterprise. If the space is compelling and has light and makes people happy, they want to do their jobs and are more productive,” he said.
At every turn, the rough paired with the smooth aesthetic is at play. A modern box conference room is clad in reclaimed wood on the outside, with the interior awash in white. The alternating light and medium wood plank flooring also is reclaimed barn wood, and the vertical surface walls are reclaimed elm. Industrial tables, again made by Litmus, are paired with slick, white leather Eames executive chairs in the executive workspace, which is designed for flexibility to meet different needs.
“To divide the executive offices, which we were told would constantly be evolving in number, we used accordionlike Tyvek walls from Molo Design to create a labyrinth of smaller office areas,” said Mozersky. Tyvek is the durable material most often used to wrap houses during construction.
The lounge area features brown leather Chelsea sofas from Restoration Hardware, a geometric patterned rug from Kyle Bunting and a powder-coated coffee table from Blu Dot.
In the natural-light-flooded work area for the creative team, the designers again relied on industrial desks fabricated by Litmus. Here, however, they are seen with apple green leather Eames chairs, rather than the white chairs in the executive area.
Another important component for Yarosh was an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle, citing a news report that referred to sitting as “our generation’s smoking.”
There are showers in the bathrooms, so that employees can freshen up after working out at the nearby Gold’s Gym. Soon, a storage closet will be transformed into a space to store towels, eliminating the need for people to bring their own. A walk station — which is a desk with a built-in treadmill — gets employees out of their chairs and moving.
The gourmet kitchen makes it easy to cook healthy meals, and Yarosh has lunch catered in a couple of times per week.
It’s not all work, working out and healthy eating though, which is evidenced by the beer tap kept stocked with a keg of local beer.
“I had a big desire to have it so people can hang out here,” said Yarosh. “It’s for entertaining and not just for working.”
Off the kitchen is a cafeteria area and a pool table room. A huge color splash comes by way of artificial turf walls from AlwaysgreenerOkc.com, which also help muffle sound during particularly spirited games.
“The amazing custom light fixture over the largest part of the space was made of metal ceiling joists and hundreds of light bulbs, by Warbach Lighting and design,” said Mozersky. “It runs along the ceiling like a roller coaster. It’s really amazing and my favorite thing in the space.”
For Yarosh, a top priority was an open space that was designed for interaction and communication. But more than anything, Yarosh said, “We really wanted to be true to Austin and do something different up here.”