Space to Work, Room to Play

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By Jenny Xie
A mobile game studio in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District outgrows its original office and brings back designer Sheena Murphy to expand the space while keeping true to the company’s minimalist aesthetic.

It’s only fitting that Dots, the mobile game studio inspired by minimalist art, has an equally swoon-worthy office space. In 2014, the co-founders Paul Murphy and Patrick Moberg approached Sheena Murphy of Sheep + Stone Interiors with the intention of creating an office that reflected the brand’s design values, the results of which can be found in this Dwell collection. Soon after, the startup experienced a growth spurt, and its numbers swelled to 50 employees. Murphy was again enlisted, this time for a large-scale renovation that expanded the office from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet.

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 1 of 11 - Immersed in art during a trip to Japan, co-founder Patrick Moberg found inspiration for Dots, a game that would connect aesthetic beauty and fun. ''Patrick was instrumental in helping to guide the design. He’s an incredibly creative mind,'' describes Murphy. Menu Afternoon Lounge Chairs and a Friends & Founders Knockout Table set the scene in the entryway.

Immersed in art during a trip to Japan, co-founder Patrick Moberg found inspiration for Dots, a game that would connect aesthetic beauty and fun. ''Patrick was instrumental in helping to guide the design. He’s an incredibly creative mind,'' describes Murphy. Menu Afternoon Lounge Chairs and a Friends & Founders Knockout Table set the scene in the entryway.

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 2 of 11 - All the workstations in the office are by HAY. "The system worked very well with what we needed," describes Murphy.

All the workstations in the office are by HAY. "The system worked very well with what we needed," describes Murphy.

Realizing that the project would require architectural work, Murphy reached out to an old colleague, Andrew Herbert of Woodfin Architecture & Design. "People were busting at the seams at the original space," says Murphy. "It was a huge demolition. The office is in a turn-of-the-century warehouse with amazing light in the Meatpacking District, so the bones were wonderful to work with."

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 3 of 11 - A large meeting room, equipped with Drop Chairs by Fritz Hansen and a sculptural Spica Light by Iacoli & McAllister, seats 14.

A large meeting room, equipped with Drop Chairs by Fritz Hansen and a sculptural Spica Light by Iacoli & McAllister, seats 14.

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 4 of 11 - Pink Muuto Visu Chairs invite employees into the phone rooms while Dome Sconces by Allied Maker provide gentle light. The felt-wrapped rooms with bleached plywood slats are one of Murphy's favorite features. "It's a nice nod to the Japanese inspiration that originally helped get the game off the ground," says Murphy.

Pink Muuto Visu Chairs invite employees into the phone rooms while Dome Sconces by Allied Maker provide gentle light. The felt-wrapped rooms with bleached plywood slats are one of Murphy's favorite features. "It's a nice nod to the Japanese inspiration that originally helped get the game off the ground," says Murphy.

The redesign focused on creating flexible working spaces that range from individual phone booths to spacious meeting rooms that seat 14 people. Multiple banquet areas are the perfect setting for lunch or casual meetings, while a game room and a lounge area (complete with a projector) encourage employees to blow off steam. "People can stretch out and use the space as they need to," says Murphy. "I’m older than most of the people in the office, so I had to put myself in their shoes. [The office supports] everything you can do in a 10-hour workday."

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 5 of 11 - The library features a Muuto Oslo Sofa and Lassen Saxe Chairs. Exposed brick and generous windows are reminders of the warehouse setting. 

The library features a Muuto Oslo Sofa and Lassen Saxe Chairs. Exposed brick and generous windows are reminders of the warehouse setting. 

"It’s a nod to the traditional American office mixed with Scandinavian vibes." -Sheena Murphy

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 6 of 11 - Muuto Stacked Shelving creates a flexible and playful display area.

Muuto Stacked Shelving creates a flexible and playful display area.

The end result is a soothing space that reflects the company’s startup identity. Says Murphy, "We played more with form and pared down in color. It’s a nod to the traditional American office mixed with Scandinavian vibes."

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 7 of 11 - A HAY New Order desk system furnishes the workspace.

A HAY New Order desk system furnishes the workspace.

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 8 of 11 - The Tembo Lounge Chair by New Works and an EJ 123 Toward Sofa by Erik Jorgensen lend their sculptural presence to the lounge area, while textiles by Ferm Living and Five Poufs by Muuto provide a counterbalancing softness. The glass-top Ding Table is by Normann Cophagen, and the Align Daybed is by Menu. 

The Tembo Lounge Chair by New Works and an EJ 123 Toward Sofa by Erik Jorgensen lend their sculptural presence to the lounge area, while textiles by Ferm Living and Five Poufs by Muuto provide a counterbalancing softness. The glass-top Ding Table is by Normann Cophagen, and the Align Daybed is by Menu. 

Though Murphy enjoyed the chance to work with the building’s historic architecture, it presented its own challenges as well. "The noise was just bouncing," she says. "We used some conventional acoustical materials to help deaden the sound, put carpets on the floor, and inside the meeting rooms we wrapped panels with felt to muffle the sound even more. It was fun to play around with different materials to meet the challenges of the space."

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 9 of 11 - Two sound engineers at Dots record all the music for each game—an especially impressive feat considering that each level has a different soundtrack.

Two sound engineers at Dots record all the music for each game—an especially impressive feat considering that each level has a different soundtrack.

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 10 of 11 - A fully insulated, soundproof room gives the musicians free reign to produce and record.

A fully insulated, soundproof room gives the musicians free reign to produce and record.

For Sheep + Stone Interiors, the Dots office is an outlier of sorts. The company’s portfolio is dominated by residential and hotel work, and it took a company born out of a creative impetus to draw Murphy into the commercial realm. The renovation affords Murphy the unique privilege of being able to visit. As she explains, "I can go back into the office and see how people interact with the spaces and how it’s helping them be more productive. You don’t go into a home and have a cup of tea with the residents."

Space to Work, Room to Play - Photo 11 of 11 - Muuto Under the Bell pendant lights are made from recycled plastic felt, which helps absorb noise and improve acoustics—a key feature in the open office.

Muuto Under the Bell pendant lights are made from recycled plastic felt, which helps absorb noise and improve acoustics—a key feature in the open office.

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