Inside Quirky's 30,000 Square Foot Imaginarium
We've all had those eureka moments of invention, whether its a revelatory twist on an item that already exists or something entirely new you're convinced should. But that's generally where it ends. Quirky's on a mission to change that. The five-year-old NYC-based startup is helping everyday people invent new things and actually bring them to market. From conceptualization to manufacturing, and all the way to retail, they're unlocking the best ideas from the crowd and turning them into reality — in a bright and sprawling former warehouse space on the west side of Manhattan.
Because of their alignment with the retail schedule, the company shuts down for an entire week three times a year. Translation: three mandatory weeks of vacation, y'all! Greeting all visitors is the "Blackout Wall," which counts down to the next week off and allows employees to plot where in the world they're headed each time around.
The Quirky parking lot.
The huge open space in the entrance area transforms into an auditorium of sorts every Thursday night for the Quirky Eval Process. It's a weekly ritual when employees, industry experts, and community members come together (and engage remotely via livestream) to evaluate and vote — over beer and pizza — on which of the hottest ideas submitted that week are good enough to make it to the next stage.
In the center of the office sits an enormous glassed-in workshop where designers can tweak and create prototypes, shepherding them to their next phase.
It's like your high school wood shop, only 1,000,000 times cooler and without your fingerless, curmudgeon of an instructor.
Plus it's stocked with insane (and insanely expensive) 3D printers and lasercutters.
To ensure their electrical products function safely for every customer, they test them here on power outlets found all over the world.
Here, their photo team handles all manner of imagery — from packaging to promotion — for forthcoming products.
No need to pace around the office or step outside to have a private conversation, there's an entire wall of private phonebooths.
Salvaged shelf of tchochkes and industry-related ephemera? Check.
Behold the giant communal kitchen. It doubles as the backdrop for many photoshoots involving kitchen-related inventions.
Conference rooms of all shapes and sizes dot the perimeter, and each one's named for objects inside. This one, for example, goes by Luella Rivera, a nod to the name found on the locker that serves as the glass table base. It was salvaged by Quirky's founder from a Brooklyn high school and oddly enough, still has a bunch of her stuff inside.
The airy room with rows of monitors is the central business hub. But these aren't any ordinary desks.
They're made from the salvaged floors of bowling alley lanes.
Beyond that sits another giant room where ideas get hashed out. Here you'll find electrical engineers tinkering with wiring and designers mocking things up on giant screens.
There's even an in-house retail display showing off some of the biggest sellers — each one borne from ideas from regular folks. Pretty sure they're on to something, guys.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and was the world's worst shop student.