To stand inside the huge New York KBS+ office space feels like walking smack into the middle of an identity crisis. That’s because its Hudson Square offices are in the midst of a large-scale renovation aimed at, according to CEO Ed Brojerdi, accommodating the growing agency and bringing all its specialties under one roof. The office has two very distinct identities, a Jekyll and a Hyde, said Brojerdi, who took Digiday on a tour through the space. The office occupies six floors in a tower on Varick St. and houses 700 employees. The renovation has only gone through three of those floors, but so far, the results have been promising. The renovated floors feature big, open spaces and lots of room to move around. Most of the exec team occupies standing desks off the main gathering area. The unrenovated floors are more like a warehouse, but cozier. Brojerdi said the plan is to “open them up” when the renovation goes through.
The “Hyde” floors feature wide, open spaces done mostly in white, and big windows. It’s where the main space of the agency is located, with small plus-shaped chairs in homage to the KBS+ “plus” sign, and a cafeteria with snacks staffers purchase on the honor system. Off that, there’s a state-of-the-art production facility where the agency can quickly create videos for pitches and other work that needs to be done quickly. There’s even an old-school arcade machine with “every game possible.”
“KBS+ has grown rapidly in the past few years, so we needed to ensure our space accommodated that rapid growth without losing its sleek and modern aesthetic,” said Brojerdi. “All of our specialisms — content, PR, social media, media, digital, creative, strategy and production — are now housed within 160 Varick, allowing seamless collaboration across our staff.” In a bit of backwards literary allusion, the space KBS+ dubs “Jekyll” is below “Hyde,” and is darker. Some floors are completely done in a black — one room features black floors, black walls and even black radiators.
“While [the space is] a gathering place for client meetings, pitches, all-staff presentations, and collaborative working sessions, it’s also a space where employees can pursue their passion projects during down time and be inspired to create their own IP,” said Brojerdi. “We house some of our KBS-owned inventions there, too, including our 360-selfie camera and our iPad wall.” KBS+ is a big believer in inventing — the agency has in recent months debuted a new type of camera rig that lets users take a “360-degree selfie.” Clients have already shown an interest. The agency has also developed a custom nail-polish product it is looking to sell. Current clients at the agency include BMW, Windstream and Harman.
The agency has a lot of art on the walls, all of which was made by company employees. The idea, said Brojerdi, was to display the side hustles of the more artistic people in the company. People liked the art so much that they started buying it, hence a few gaps on the walls. The agency has other cool internal inventions scattered throughout, like a stoplight that tells visitors which areas of the office are off limits at any given time. For example, if the cafeteria/snack mart is out of commission, its light goes red. If something top-secret is taking place, the “guest walkthrough” light goes red. There are cutouts of music stars everywhere — including Beyoncé. On the Friday Digiday came through, a taco party was in the works. “The creative nature of the space inspires our people and cultivates our invention culture, two driving forces behind our agency’s growth and success,” said Brojerdi, who added that “big things are coming” with the continued renovation.
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