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The Food52 office is expanding into a new floor in our building, which means an additional test kitchen, more space, and all the decisions that come with both — like new countertops, fixtures, and shelving. We partnered with Caesarstone, makers of beautiful, durable quartz countertops in a wide range of finishes, to get the look just right.
Here at Food52, we've paid our office space due: Amanda's house, co-working spaces, a modest office lit by the purple lights of Madison Square Garden. So now that we finally have a bigger, better home of our own, we made it the office and test kitchen of our dreams, complete with comfy couches and pleasant overhead lighting. And then we promptly outgrew it.
Earlier this year we added a new space: a little annex a few floors above us in the same building. It's a place where we can store Shop products and packing supplies (bubble wrap takes up more room than you'd think!), and where our video team can have the room they need to make their magic happen. And now it's also home to a shiny new kitchen, so we can test even more recipes.
To get the look just right, we turned to our longtime designer Brad Sherman of Float Studio, who helped us make our office dreams into reality with a full reno of our workspace earlier this year. Once again, Float Studio's thoughtful design philosophy has transformed a run-of-the-mill office suite into a place we're proud to call home.
Without further ado, we're pleased as punch to present the new Food52 Annex—along with Brad's helpful insights on how to design for a multi-use space, how to choose surfaces, and why balancing open and closed shelving is so important.
Like our existing test kitchen, the new one needs to accommodate lots of cooking as well as photo and video shoots. (That means it needs to be fully functional, but also beautiful and roomy.) When designing this kind of plate-juggling, many-hat-wearing office space, Brad makes every inch count. "The most successful spaces have a place for everything," he says. "If I haven’t designed and used every square inch, I haven’t done my job. Food52 is especially tricky, because its storage needs and workflow are so unique."
So how do you make everything always look amazing when they are constantly cooking, and storage is the most critical need? According to Brad, the answer is a balance between open and closed storage. "I use open storage—out of sight—for things that need to be easily accessed," Brad explains. "For example, the back of the islands are open shelving to allow recipe testers to quickly grab cooking equipment without fishing through drawers and doors."
The surfaces in the test kitchen need to be able to handle rolling out pie dough, and also serve as a surface on which to beautifully photograph that pie dough, too. So for the countertops, Brad chose Caesarstone to fit both of those needs. "The material is quartz," he said, "which is great because it’s very durable, and stain- and scratch-resistant—crucial for a busy chef who doesn’t want to worry about destroying their countertop."
To choose the finish, Food52 art director Alexis Anthony photographed several options to find one that would work for the widest variety of photo needs. "I was looking for one that had an interesting tone but wasn't too distracting," she says. "Something with variation (like little flecks, which give the stone personality), but not super uniform, so that it looks dynamic on camera."
After Alexis and Brad checked out sample after sample, the winning finish was a natural-looking, matte option called Raw Concrete. "The color is so neutral that everything looks great on it," Brad says.
One of the main functions of this new space is to house all of our amazing Shop products as they await review and photography—and there are a lot of products. Brad's solution (again!) was a mix of open shelving and closed shelving. He created walk-in aisles using Modern Shelving, which is as beautiful as it is easily adjustable. "It allowed us to maximize space without sacrificing design," he says.
And for those items we aren't reaching for quite as often (or don't really need in our sightline...see bubble wrap, above), there are also shelves behind closed doors, so we can pack away all our packing supplies.
So next time you see a picture of a dish that makes you swoon or open the mail to find a goodie from our Shop, you'll know where they came from: a place where clever, creative design meets a perfect slice of pie.
Our office annex just got a makeover with help from Caesarstone. Keep an eye out for our beautiful new quartz countertops in upcoming videos and recipe photos, and remember these tips if you're designing a new kitchen space of your own.