Looking beyond exposed ceilings and standing desks‒what really makes for a desirable creative office

Brand · Environment · Strategy

Make began as an 175,000 square foot floral warehouse and became a model for attracting creative tenants. Guided by the belief that designing for everyone renders a building characterless, we created Make to appeal to businesses who value a maker mentality and a connection to nature. Shortly after completion, GoPro, VICE, and several consumer lifestyle companies moved in.

The developer behind Make had the guts to imagine a workplace with an unapologetic point of view. Instead of designing to the mean and appealing to the masses, make reflects a particular culture and community—and has a tenant mix to match.

Skaters, surfers, movers, shakers

Defining the ideal tenant

Rather than looking at office trends or general best practices, we took inspiration from the location and its culture. People and businesses choose San Diego to live a SoCal lifestyle — this emerged as a filter for designing the space.

Make is not a blank canvas. The space offers culture-specific amenities, inspires interaction with the Pacific, and invites cross-company interactions. It feels thoughtfully ‘complete,’ but raw enough for businesses to make their own mark. Ultimately, it is living proof that a developer can influence not just a space, but the community that eventually fills it.

Short and sweet

The make name and identity

The developer behind make had the guts to imagine a workplace with an unapologetic point of view. Instead of designing to the mean and appealing to the masses, make reflects a particular culture and community—and has a tenant mix to match.

Out on the boardwalk.

The breezeway

We cut an L-shaped breezeway out of the original building, separating it into two. Lined by glass, it creates a connection between outside and inside. Garage doors let tenants spill out into this in-between space, and a kit of parts including concrete walls, hedges, and benches allows each to create semi-private areas that feel open yet unexposed.

All hands on deck

The amphitheater

How do you bring 300 people who don’t necessarily work together, together? A tiered seating area for all-hands meetings, outdoor eating, or community events like concerts or Friday movie nights.

The objective was not just to provide a place for people to work, but to create a daily experience. When they walked into make, we wanted our customers to feel something.

Peter Spencer, Cruzan

The Americano dream

Container coffee bar

Everybody loves coffee. In partnership with local vendor Copa Vida, we transformed a simple shipping container into a pop-up coffee shop. Local food trucks enter the scene at lunchtime, drawing even more desktop workers out into the sunshine.

Sweat central

The gym (“move”)

It’s unusual for an office property to provide amenities like a gym to its clients—but investments like free bicycles and a cool workout space gave developer Cruzan easy selling points for attracting desirable clients

Surfer's paradise

Outdoor showers, custom SALT SURF boards, and storage

Simple insights—like people hesitating to leave surfboards in their hot cars—led to impactful design moments. Wetsuit drying racks and surfboard storage transform the nearby Pacific from a driveby view into an everyday excursion. In collaboration with SALT SURF, custom boards are even available if you forget yours that day.

↪︎ Salt Surf

Creating a vibe

Marketing done differently

Telling the story of such a unique project couldn’t be done with renderings in a construction trailer. Instead, three shipping containers became a pop-up staging area. One acted as a café, another a preview of the future office, and the third displayed a colorful mural by Jason Woodside. Potential clients were given a real sense of the Make brand experience—and Jason’s mural lives on on the side of the make coffee stand.

makeing a brand

Graphic Expressions

A suite of materials were on hand in the pop-up staging area to thoughtfully reinforce the brand. Instead of a typical glossy magazine, we created newsprint-style brochures decorated with the same gestural brush strokes on the site’s SALT SURF boards. The save-the-date looked simple enough—until you fold its perforated edges to create a mini make shipping container. The fun lives in the details. 

More to see