The Columbus-based tech development company's husband and wife co-founders put their heads together to come up with the refreshed space.
Instead of finding a new location, when it was time for web and app developer Switchbox to grow, the co-founders opted to stay put. They kept their suburban building near the intersection of Henderson and Kenny roads in northwest Columbus and took over a portion of the adjacent building occupied by Weight Watchers.
When Megan Stephens, who co-founded the business with her husband, Joel, stepped into the newly emptied part of the building, which Switchbox had owned since 2012, she found an unflattering hodgepodge of décor. “It was disgusting,” she says. “There were commercial carpet tiles. Everything that is [now] black trim was like a pistachio green, and the walls were like a buttery yellow color.”
Now, the space bears little resemblance to its former self. Stephens did most of the design herself. Visitors pass through a hallway lined with cool art—in fact, the whole office is filled with art—to a room with vaulted ceilings that is decorated in more muted colors, except for a pop of vintage green from some chairs.Stay up to date with the region’s movers and shakers, top employers, philanthropic causes, real estate developments and thriving creative and startup scenes. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.
A small nook to one side offers a private workspace with a table crafted from a client’s ax-throwing board. The nook hides underneath a set of wide, wooden stairs that serve as a route to a conference room (former utility loft), and also as a set of bleachers for staffwide gatherings for Switchbox’s 19 full-time employees. On the other side of the risers is a kitchen. Stephens says they had to get creative when designing the space, and the risers offer a home for the refrigerator.
A small room in the back is Stephens’ favorite. It is unassuming but packed with interesting touches. To decorate it, an entire children’s book was framed page by page on the wall. The book, Flotsam by David Wiesner, is told in a series of pictures. “I think story is a really powerful way to communicate things,” says Stephens. “I just love the narrative of this story, because it’s weird and it’s not typical and it’s not linear. It’s not expected. I think that so often describes the process of what we do.”
In the back corner is a climbing wall—yes, a functional climbing wall—suggested by her husband, Joel. He is definitely the idea person, she says. He also suggested a zip line, but she vetoed it.
At Switchbox, desks are arranged more traditionally in offices instead of a collaborative space. Stephens says this is mostly because developers do a lot of focused work that requires quiet and concentration. Offices span the perimeter of the building, sometimes holding a few people. “There’s been this huge boom towards open space, which is beautiful and it’s cost effective,” she says. “[But] it’s really challenging to work in that type of environment, especially for our developers—we need to minimize distraction. Or maybe just you’re the type of human being that cannot exist effectively in that kind of environment without being overwhelmed or distracted. These don’t exist for seniority or employee of the month.”
Stephens says she likes the location because parking is easy, it is centrally located for employees, and there is green space outside.
Chloe Teasley is staff writer for Columbus CEO.