Office, Sweet Office: Cutler

Cutler, Vancouver

Design: Cutler / Lead designers: Tiina Vahtola and Elisa Leung

It’s no surprise that one of the overarching concerns for Cutler as it started planning for a move-in to a new office was to bolster innovative thinking and cooperation. What was different, perhaps, was the approach: to strip everything down to the basics. “What was most important was the health and wellbeing of our team,” says Tiina Vahtola. “We eliminated any unnecessary visual distractions so that our designers had an environment that left space for their creativity to flow effortlessly.”

The bones of the existing building are loft-like and urban with exposed brick and heavy timber construction, elements that were respected in the new design.

Cutler had signed up for a loft-like space that had some good bones worth preserving. But the 100-year-old building presented certain challenges, notably the existing wood post-and-beam construction, two exit stairwells that jutted into the floor space and plumbing locations that could not be moved. “We hand sketched the different possibilities the space had to offer until we found a layout that worked with the site’s restrictions and also aligned with our intentions of the space,” Vahtola says.

By drafting several iterations, the design team was able to nail the best arrangement possible. The office, which is three times as large as the previous one, boasts ample opportunities for staff to sit and work together, and employees are already saying they feel better in the new office thanks to the social and collaboration areas they didn’t have before. “The new space has made us a stronger team,” says Vahtola. “We are more connected but can also work quietly if we need to.” Bonus point: there’s also more space for the office dogs.

Photography by Luke Potter