A Creative Agency with a Modern, Open Workspace

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By Jill Southern
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A Vancouver design studio created in collaboration with Battersby Howat Architects.

Tucked away just east of Vancouver’s Railtown district is the office of Burnkit, a creative agency that values the importance of a well-designed workspace. 

In a collaboration between architects Battersby Howat and Burnkit’s partners Josh Dunford and Dylan Staniul, the 3000 sqft former dry goods warehouse was transformed into a modern, functional office. They gutted, whitewashed and reconstructed the building’s 50s era interior into an airy and interconnected workspace. Through the use of clean lines and a minimal palette of surface materials they created an environment that is "largely open and allows effortless creative collaboration", says Dunford. 

The walls and ceiling were whitewashed and new concrete was poured to give the workspace a clean and minimal palette. 

The walls and ceiling were whitewashed and new concrete was poured to give the workspace a clean and minimal palette. 

Predominantly white, wood and concrete, the interior is composed with straight lines, floating shelves and concealed hardware. Linear lights are suspended above long Formica topped desks. A hidden door separates the kitchen and a floating bookshelf spans the west wall of the office.

Other elements are much bolder, such as the sky-blue floating staircase in the foyer. Its metal, cantilevered steps attach seamlessly to the side wall, stabilized vertically by thin cables that disappear into the ceiling. The staircase is topped by a circular skylight and accented by hanging white porcelain pendants. As a result the entrance is bright and welcoming—and makes for an exciting first impression.

Floating stairs to the boardroom are framed by over forty porcelain 21 series pendants by Bocci.

Floating stairs to the boardroom are framed by over forty porcelain 21 series pendants by Bocci.

The staircase has a floating metal landing that connects to a fir plywood wall.

The staircase has a floating metal landing that connects to a fir plywood wall.

The creative use of lighting continues throughout the office where circular skylights guide sunshine past the criss-crossed ceiling beams. Beneath a central skylight, a stunning coloured glass and copper Bocci chandelier hangs above a black wool sectional sofa. While in the low-ceilinged kitchen, an inset circular skylight creates a glowing tubular ‘transporter’ effect.

The space is designed to let both staff and clients converse and collaborate. For formal meetings, there's a boardroom upstairs. Below, a Douglas fir plywood bar table is the centrepiece for casual meetings and Friday beers. Towards the back a 20 ft stretch of wall is where creative work-in-progress is posted, rearranged and reviewed.

A custom Bocci 28 copper chandelier hangs above a black wool sectional by Bensen.

A custom Bocci 28 copper chandelier hangs above a black wool sectional by Bensen.


The kitchen has a low ceiling with an inset circular skylight that creates a tubular glow.

The kitchen has a low ceiling with an inset circular skylight that creates a tubular glow.

The Douglas fir plywood bar table by Nico Spacecraft is flanked by Miura stools by Konstantin Grcic. 

The Douglas fir plywood bar table by Nico Spacecraft is flanked by Miura stools by Konstantin Grcic. 

Sunken a few feet below the main level is the partners’ office. It’s connected by a glass wall on one end and by sliding glass doors that open to a private garden on the other. Here the owners can remain connected with the team (but are able to close the door during emphatic phone calls).

Stairs leading to the garden-level suite are separated by a glass partition and pocket door.

Stairs leading to the garden-level suite are separated by a glass partition and pocket door.

With its bold accents, minimal palette, and efficient use of space, the design of the Burnkit office strikes a balance between fun and serious. "We endeavoured to make a space that reflects our brand", says Dunford. The result is an interior that's well-designed to explore ideas and accomplish good work.

A fir walkway at the top of the stairs leads to the boardroom.

A fir walkway at the top of the stairs leads to the boardroom.

The 50s era building is nestled between warehouses, factories and other small businesses in east Vancouver.

The 50s era building is nestled between warehouses, factories and other small businesses in east Vancouver.