BARK, a monthly subscription service that provides dog products and experiences to over 2 million dogs monthly, entrusted MKDA with the design and execution of its new workplace at 120 Broadway, which prioritizes dogs just as much as their humans. The client specifically requested for the MKDA team to push the creative envelope to deliver a highly tailored, branded office that embodies its fun-loving and playful corporate identity. The end result is an immersive space that merges robust amenities – including a dog park, extensive front of the house cafe area, library and hidden rooms – with a flexible work environment that serves to energize, inspire and delight both people and dogs alike.
BARK’s distinctive brand was at the forefront of early design conversations and thus is prominently displayed throughout the space. Starting in the elevator lobby, the company’s signature blue and graphics adorn the walls, making an immediate impact. It also has writable walls and surfaces where employees can get creative and leave their own mark. The project team, similarly, installed custom transparent signage by the entrance and filled the letters with its most notable toys, showcasing the brand’s inventive range of products. Building on these motifs, the huddle and conference rooms are named after either popular products or quirky dog references, mirroring the fun surprises that dogs find in each BarkBox package. Some examples include “Hugo,” “Bob Toss,” “Sploot,” and “Toe Beans.”
In addition to these overt branding efforts, the workplace needed to be dog-centric and was meticulously crafted to accommodate the many office dogs that frequent the space. Dog beds and stations with water, food, and treats are liberally dispersed around the office as well as strategically placed toy bins.
MKDA designed a memorable and spacious dog park in the heart of the workplace where dogs are free to roam and play off leash. Complete with an interactive playground, ball pit, swinging lounge chairs, and green flooring that mimics an outdoor park, this area serves as a dynamic attraction for humans and their pups.
Further enhancing the employee experience, MKDA created a number of flexible breakout and communal areas where individuals can go to work and collaborate. The main cafe, for instance, functions as a reception, dining, and event space, all at once. Individuals often congregate around the cold brew and seltzer taps while enjoying their weekly catered lunches, prompting them to mingle and form interspecies connections. Directly adjacent are two themed huddle rooms, named after its viral toys “Spinach Burrito” and “Pig Butts,” which add a lively dimension that simultaneously supports privacy and videoconferencing needs.
Perhaps most notably, MKDA’s design team fabricated an intimate library and speakeasy, which pays homage to BARK’s furry clientele. Emulating a comfortable home den, the room features an array of canine-inspired decor including a spotted rug, bulldog light fixtures, dog themed accessories, and a wall of framed dog portraits, making it a true dog lover’s paradise. Tucked away behind the bookcase, there is a hidden door leading to a secret cat lady room, adding a fun, unexpected twist to the space. A nearby pantry and high top table act as a casual setting where employees can share ideas or work from their laptops.
BARK operates on a hybrid work model and, as such, MKDA implemented a hoteling workplace system, which allows personnel to reserve desks on a day-to-day basis. The open plan work area is separated by neighborhoods, providing each department with an ecosystem of tasked-based solutions such as meeting rooms, pods, phone booths, and breakout areas.Moreover, the team incorporated customized touches based on department leaders’ feedback, including one zone with soft, inviting nooks for work and play and another with an abundance of storage and experimentation space for the company’s creative team. There is also a designated locker room to accommodate the distributed workforce as well as an ADA compliant restroom and mother’s room, establishing an all-inclusive environment.