Inside FiftyThree, The Digital Hardware Store For Artists
As advanced as modern design software is, nothing beats the tactile value of a designer's sketchbook. That's what prompted the folks behind FiftyThree to develop their suite of innovative and award-winning tools, which enable designers and artists to work on a digital platform while still enjoying the analog comforts of pen and paper.
We recently got a chance to scope out their new office space in New York, where their brain trust of engineers and designers are hard at work creating new tools and stocking the digital shelves of the future.
Before occupying the new digs in the magnificent Art Deco building on 60 Hudson—the original home of the Western Union Company—FiftyThree was operating out of founder Georg Petschnigg's apartment. The runaway success of their app Paper (which Apple deemed the best iPad app of 2012), Pencil stylus, and on-demand custom-printed Moleskines warranted a move to a bigger spot.
The space was designed by architect Laura González Fierro, whose vision was to build a friendly space "with a psychological flow." The flood of natural light and rows of long, dark wooden desks give it the vibe of a midcentury workshop, and roughly half of the company's employees are based here. The rest of the operation is based in Seattle.
The open-concept office is cut in half by an elevated lounge, surrounded by bookshelves and flush with plants, keeping with the architect's vision for a space that combines work space, library, home, and forest.
To create the warm industrial vibe, they used four main materials: blackened steel, glass, concrete, and walnut, the latter in homage to the 53's Pencil, their carpenter pencil-inspired stylus, which is made from the same wood.
A corridor of glass-walled conference rooms connects the main work area with the large lounge.
It serves as both an ad-hoc meeting space and a more formal auditorium, with a pull-down projection screen.
Feel like whipping up a proper meal? There's a full kitchen—oven included—begging you to get your culinary juices flowing.
Behold, FiftyThree's wall-mounted drawing robot. Primed and ready to sketch out whatever you program it to.
As it turns out, the architect of the Freedom Tower, Daniel Libeskind, is a huge fan of FiftyThree's products, and relies on them to get his work done. It doesn't get much better than looking out the window every day to see towering evidence of how your work is helping breath life into incredible projects.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor, and fairly certain even a broken robot could draw better than him.
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