San Francisco, California
Twilio is a publicly traded cloud communications company that gives businesses the ability to innovate, prototype, create, and connect with their customers through real-time communication and authentication capabilities. The company’s core values are rooted in the belief that the biggest problems can be solved by challenging assumptions and pursuing honest, direct, transparent solutions. In an effort to accommodate a rapidly expanding
staff and need for additional space, Twilio relocated its San Francisco headquarters to a 90,000 SF space split over two floors in a multi-tenant building. The goal was to reflect the company’s culture of efficiency and simplicity by creating a space that used easily accessible standard construction materials in innovative ways to control costs and contribute to the company’s humble culture and their fundamental ethos.
Blitz explored these solutions through a “simplicity by subtraction” design approach. The design team made a concentrated effort to remove materials, such as finish drywall, and replaced them with unconventional materials to create a space that is economical, interesting, and uniquely Twilio.
The subtraction concept is best seen in the design of semi-enclosed collaborative spaces playfully
called “un-rooms.” The “un-room” spaces were designed without doors and ceilings and constructed from standard metal framing clad in low cost materials like polycarbonate plastic and oriented stand board (OSB) painted in Twilio’s brand colors. This innovative and efficient solution combines pops of color with multiple textures and patterns while creating separation for staff having informal breakouts or independent work.
Inspired by Twilio’s original desks, which were DIY solutions crafted out of doors and 2×4 lumber found at local hardware stores, the design team worked closely with the furniture vendor to create a custom sit-to-stand workstation that utilized
a height-adjustable base with a wooden door top. These unique solutions made a playful reference to the Twilio company history while providing a more streamlined solution that responds to the need for future growth and flexibility.
“Blitz just really “got us”. From initial concept and design through execution and seeing it come to life, they found unique ways to capture our culture and values in our new space. Plus, they were an all-around fun team to work with. Creative, solutions focused, and fun…You really couldn’t ask for anything more!”
– Michelle kemling, Senior director, talent development
A primary focal point of the office is the large pantry and cafe space located directly adjacent to the main entry. The event space is highly flexible allowing for weekly all-hands meetings, team “family dinner” nights, and for the convenient hosting of
regular events for the local developer community. The space features a state of the art integrated Audio/Visual system with 30 sub woofers that can be used for conference presentations and the occasional Twilio hack-a-thon.
The adjacency of the all-hands area to the coffee bar allows the space to be transformed into a larger meeting or event space. Glass mosaic backsplash and small pendants in the coffee bar were utilized to provide a cozy, peaceful residential vibe.
Another design challenge was creating a bright and open reception area that would allow natural daylight to penetrate through but also comply with Twilio’s security needs to make the area private and separate from the workstations. The solution was to add glass walls on both sides of the adjacent board room that allow natural light to flow in
from nearby exterior windows. Additionally, custom OSB wall paneling and the reception desk create a balance of raw and exposed materials with the company’s signature red color. The custom reception desk is also dual-purpose as it becomes a hospitality station when Twilio holds company events in the reception area.
The use of felt and ceiling panels as an alternative to standard ceiling construction added acoustic absorption throughout the office while minimizing the need for additional construction.
Clean lines, exposed materials, and custom-crafted elements create a simple and efficient solution that illustrates Twilio’s commitment to solving problems thoughtfully in a grounded approach.