Clarisse Empaynado x Kelly Caputo

KC

Tell us about our role at Snarkitecture! How long have you been there, and what is your role for this particular project?

CE

Hi, my name is Clarisse Empaynado. I am a Filipino designer and ceramic artist. I began my journey with Snarkitecture in 2019, and despite the pandemic, we are still here, years later, creating innovative work.
I am the project/design lead for this collaboration. This means I oversee and manage the project from design to completion, with support from the Snarkitecture and Jayaram teams.

KC

This project is a bit different, as you are not only designing it, you’re working in it as Snarkitecture joins Jayaram as Artists in Residence. Is it any different watching it come to life as you’re working there?

CE

Seeing it come to life while working there in person is a unique and satisfying experience. It is a bit more hands-on than what we are used to, but since we are designing as part of this artist-in-residence program, we’ve put heart and care into it as if we were designing our own home. 

KC

What do you think it is about Jayaram and Snarkitecture that makes this such an interesting collaboration?

CE

What’s interesting about this collaboration is that we are designing a law office and also a functional architectural studio for ourselves. As designers, we must think creatively about how to meet the needs of these inherently different disciplines. 

We found common ground in “creative work,” which is at the core of both practices, and went from there. 

KC

When people first walk in, they’re really struck by the Record Room. Tell us a bit about the thought process behind that idea, and how you went about designing it.

CE

The Record Room is one of those very “Snarkitecture-ish” design moves. This move entails inserting a unique program that is functionally and materially different from the rest of the space, adding a bit of unexpectedness and play.
I had this funny idea of bringing back to life a records/documents room, which is typically not accessible to the public, and turning it into a true gathering place in the space.

In collaboration with the Jayaram team, we pushed the idea of this space being as immersive as possible without feeling too out of place. We proposed enclosing it with shelves filled with records, turning it into a listening lounge and then puncturing it with thresholds that give a window to the space beyond.

KC

Another really striking piece is the ceiling installation. What was the idea behind designing that, and what was the process for bringing it to life?

CE

The existing space required a sound-dampening solution, and since we ended up with a very open office, we needed to reduce sound travel. We proposed a typical baffle system placed at the center of the open office. Of course, we wanted to avoid something generic, so we added a portal into the baffle system, anchoring the commons and giving it its unique identity.

KC

The ceiling installation hangs above a really cool area called the Commons, which is able to transform from a place to work during the day to an event space at night. How were you able to make this area so multi-functional?

CE

The two offices meet, converse, collaborate, and interact in the Commons, so flexible furniture is needed to support the space’s energy. The furniture inside the commons is lightweight and configurable based on various needs. We’ve also designed these mobile bookcases flanking the Commons, which become moveable partitions. Whenever an event takes place, everything can be moved out or reconfigured.

KC

Lighting plays a huge role in this space – both because of the natural light in the office, and the amazing Viabizzuno pieces. How did lighting factor into the design?

CE

Lighting played an essential role in elevating the office’s overall vibe. Viabizzuno, an Italian lighting company with whom we’ve worked on many high-end retail projects, provided a lighting solution that gave us both flexibility and quality in craft. They also provided decorative lights that added a touch of intimacy and visual focus to the spaces/rooms.

KC

Made by Choice and A05 also contributed a lot to this. Why were they the right choice for this project? 

CE

Made By Choice is a Finnish furniture company that creates pieces that add warmth and character to a space. Seeing their growth and shared passion for design and craft, we knew they were the ideal partners in bringing to life a furniture collection inspired by our office project. 

We chose A05 as our main fabricator because they are relatively new, so they were hungry to take on the challenge of detailing and fabricating the custom pieces. The scale and scope of work was also the right match. I would like to especially thank Brian Chu (Co-founder) and Sebastian Arroyo Hoebens (Artist/Designer) for completing this project with great care, attention, and effort. 

KC

What is your absolute favorite part of the office, and which was the most exciting to watch come to life?

CE

It has to be the Record Room, and going through the irregular opening to get into the office is one of the most satisfying parts of my day.

KC

Obviously this office is different from your typical law firm office. Do you think this might pave the way for other businesses to be more creative in their office design? 

CE

I think so, yes. Office design, especially after the pandemic, when most, if not all, within our industries are hybrid or fully working from home, needed to evolve. 

For people to come to work, the office needs to be as comfortable or better than their home. That is why we think focusing on “creative work” is the right strategy. A highly functional and inspiring space contributes to a sense of belonging and thriving creativity, which we believe adds value and quality to the work being produced.