Community February 18, 2009

Office Sweet Office

A home away from home

Ask many professionals what they do, and they’ll say, “I live in my office.” Only occasionally is this literally true, but many folks spend more awake and active time in the office than at home. Since that is the case with a majority of working people, some companies have worked hard to make home away from home a comfortable place. What’s comfortable for one, of course, isn’t necessarily comfortable for another.

It all depends on the job.

If you are designing an office for yourself or your company, you must ask yourself what suits your interests and the tasks of the business. Does the space need to have private nooks and crannies, or should it allow people to see each other for collaborations on the spur of the moment? What sort of image do you want to present to the public and how do you achieve that?

If color is a language, how loudly do you speak?

For ideas, we’ve taken an insider’s look at four local offices and the how and why in their designs.

Two of them were constructed specifically for the company’s purposes, one last year and one more than 30 years ago. One was a remodel and another space was selected as a new office inside a new building that offered useful facilities for the employees.

In keeping with the physically active nature of Wood River Valley residents, every office building has a shower and locker room facility either in the building or adjacent to it for workers to spiff up after either a bicycle ride into the office or a workout during the day.

So, you see, it isn’t all about work.


Walls of corrugated metal line Michael Doty & Associate's conference room, adorned with climbing metal figures.

Michael Doty Associates
Resourceful space for new design

An architect’s office is a work place, but it is also a showplace.

For the working partners, it’s got to be functional and inspirational. For potential clients, it’s got to demonstrate the firm’s creativity.

In the case of Michael Doty Associates, Doty wanted his offices to speak to his clients serving as a resourceful space for new design.

“We wanted to create a welcoming space that portrayed credibility and conveyed our commitment to design,” Doty said.

For his offices, at 371 Washington Avenue North, Doty has invited visitors to get a taste of whimsy, along with a taste of his style, in the entry room and conference room.

Design creds include an artful mix of black laminate, corrugated galvanized metal, anodized aluminum and laminated birch wood to cohesively bring each room together. Whimsy shows itself in the metal figures that climb artfully from wooden board to board in the conference room. And also in the inviting seating area which features two modern chairs that offer cushioned dark black leather seating that works up to a contrasting birch wood serving as the back rest.

These clearly show the architect is not afraid to use his inspired taste. And the open plan shows the other designers have nothing to hide.

For his new offices, meant to handle a growing staff, Doty wanted an open plan with lots of sunshine. He envisioned a space that would allow his associates to work in a comfortable, modern atmosphere with abundant natural light.

From top to bottom: The breakroom handily suits daytime support gear like coffee, with celebratory gear on the wine rack.  Tubular files like these are more appropriate for an architect’s office.   Doty at his  U-shaped desk.

He found a space that offered the sunshine and the bones of what he wanted and also offered great in-town visibility.

The original floor plan contained multiple private offices, so he began to tear down interior walls.

“We knew that creating a studio-style work space would facilitate the free flow of information, making it easier to exchange ideas and heighten creativity,” said Doty.

He created an open studio space for his associates, with generous work stations designed for each person.

Doty also chose to create a feeling of consistency by using a limited number of materials and finishes for a variety of uses throughout the space.

Beyond the clever corrugated galvanized metal, anodized aluminum and laminated birch wood, he brought rooms together by giving work surfaces a matte black finish, a look also used in multiple storage shelves housing the firm’s library of architectural books and reference material throughout the office.

This same attention to detail was given to the conference room, which has a strong presence at the front of the building. Transparency was an underlying theme, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall used in the interior in order to allow natural daylight to suffuse the space. A unique application of corrugated metal was used on the northern wall of the conference room, where the three miniature metal mountain climbers scale the wall. The opposing wall is finished with large square panels of laminated birch wood, proportionately separated to form a recessed grid pattern.

Corrugated metal also appears as the accent to the office manager’s desk and similar shades of metal are adopted for photo displays and all door and sink hardware.

But there was more to add, Doty explains, “We live in an area immersed in outdoor activities, and all across the country there is an impetus to accommodate that need.”

Not everyone lives where an employee could take a break and go skiing, but here they do, so Doty put in a shower to encourage his employees to think healthy.

Using a black slate tile, Doty designed each bathroom with the understanding that his employees would need designated space to clean up after an exercise break. He installed a shower and designed plenty of space in each bathroom for architects to reorganize after a workout.

“It’s an amenity for our employees,” he understates.

His firm has done a broad spectrum of projects, as can be seen throughout the neighborhoods and businesses of the Wood River Valley, Doty says “We appreciate projects that are intriguing, and the chance to build lasting relationships with our clients and consultants.” >>>



Scott USA:
Bringing out the best of the best

What do you do when you are already considered one of the Valley’s best employers? Why, double the space for your employees, give them a personal bike locker and more opportunity to work out during the day and then hot showers and lockers so they can clean up and go back to work. Make their new space forward-looking to match the operating principles of the founder and its current management.

That’s what Scott Sports Group, based in Switzerland, did for Ketchum-based Scott USA, moving its 52 employees into a brand new structure and giving them nearly 10,000 square feet more space to work in.

“They take very good care of us,” says Brian Marcouiller, vice-president of operations at Scott USA.

Scott Sports Group designs and manufactures an impressive variety of high-tech bicycles, motorcycle gear, snowboards, poles and clothing. That’s ski poles made in Italy, bikes made all over Asia. It’s a massive management and marketing job.

The story of Scott Sports and its technological expertise is detailed on the company website ( Its connection to Ketchum began with the company founder, Ed Scott, an engineer and ski racer who lived in Sun Valley. In 1958, he invented the first aluminum ski pole, a product which made discards of standard poles made of bamboo and steel, and launched Scott as a forward-thinking company.

Scott’s next direction was a new design for motocross goggles, then boots and accessories for that sport. Then the company produced the lightest ski boot on the market and the first foam-ventilated ski goggles.

From top to bottom: Though the office itself is wide open to spur creativity, there is a delicate balance of secrecy required when visitors come knocking during the percolation process.  There is a locker room equipped with showers and laundry for easy clean-up.  The company encourages exercise to keep workers’ minds limber.

In 1978, Scott opened a headquarters in Fribourg, Switzerland, and continued to expand its product line. By 1986, Scott was the leading pole manufacturer and also produced its first mountain bike, and not long after, introduced the aerodynamic handlebar. In the years after, Scott would introduce carbon mountain bikes, snowboards, and an endless array of goggles, helmets and bikes.

In 2008, the company was 50 years old and still being run on a principle of evolving high quality and technology.

All U.S. operations, particularly marketing and administrative are done in Ketchum. When it was clear the U.S. headquarters were too tight for comfort, the company’s CEO and president, Beat Zaugg, came to Ketchum to work up plans for a new structure.

Architect for the project, Nick Latham of Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton, says the concept of a series of open work spaces separated by a few individual glass-walled offices came directly from Zaugg.

“He knew exactly what he wanted,” says Latham. “He wanted a very clean, contemporary look.”

Latham says large U.S. offices often have cubicles and walls everywhere while the European model typically is more open. In Scott USA, two employees face each other in work pods, leaving space around them. There are private offices for executives but they are glass, and meant to encourage communication.

In fact, the central reason for the floor plan was to enhance employee communication and comfort.

The new building is one story and thus everyone is on the single floor.

“It’s much better for flow of information,” says Marcouiller. “It’s a very nice work environment.”

The building, on Lindsay Circle near the intersection of Saddle Road and Warm Springs Road, is nearly 10,000 square feet larger than the previous office.

Though it is the beating heart of the U.S. operations, it is quieted sufficiently by carpeting and noise-calming ceiling and the occasional glass wall wrapping offices.

The architect put the mechanical rooms in the center of the building to leave walls with windows for employees and their work spaces. These are points that make the large office work.

The look is sleek. Walls are white and desk surfaces are white. The same modular bookcases and shelving furniture of gunmetal gray and chrome fill every work space from Zaugg’s office to the receptionist’s area, tying everything together. The egalitarian furniture remains under three feet in height so people can see each other.

“That way, everybody isn’t just locked in their little world,” says Marcouiller. “There is that communication. Even the executives are approachable.”

Zaugg’s penchant for spotlighting exposed building materials leads to frequent sightings of concrete pillars and overhead plumbing and electrical conduits and a feeling unlike many corporate offices elsewhere. Corridors leading between office pods feature polished concrete.

The work pods are situated for maximum communication between the departments which work most closely together.

For the operations of a company with three separate divisions in bicycle, motorcycle and winter sports, flow between departments was paramount.

Marcouiller says he worked with Zaugg and Scott USA CFO Dave Stevens to determine the layout.

“Before we moved, everyone knew where they were going,” says Marcouiller.

The new offices included a few things missing from the previous space, such as a showroom to display the latest models of goggles, ski poles, bicycles and clothing. In addition, a conference room located beside the reception area provides a space to make visitors welcome immediately.

The employee break room on the south end of the building has an espresso machine, two refrigerators, two stoves, one freezer, two microwave ovens, tables, chairs, sinks, a big screen TV and an outdoor patio.

The Scott USA lifestyle usually includes taking an exercise break in the middle of the day, and may include riding a bike to work. So the company has provided a locked bicycle room in the parking garage, giving each employee a numbered bicycle hook that keeps their wheels safe. The facility also features male and female locker rooms with several showers and lockers for everyone, along with washers and dryers. >>>



The entryway to the magazine is decorated with art from contributors. The once dingy canvas chairs were redesigned and painted by SVM artist Charlotte Hemmings.

Sun Valley Magazine:
Making space for a collaborative business

There’s something liberating about casting off an inheritance, especially when it comes to office space. With a supreme sense of freedom, Sun Valley Magazine recently moved out of offices that had served the business for almost two decades and settled into a new spot inside a new building.

Gone was a long hallway with separate offices that looked out on the back of other buildings. Everyone was closeted in private offices.

“It wasn’t helpful for the spirit of collaboration,” Laurie Sammis, publisher of Sun Valley Magazine, says about the magazine’s former office. “And because working as a team is essential to responding with creativity and innovation while under production deadlines,” adds Sammis, “we all felt the need for a new layout.”

In looking for a new location, Sammis sought a space that would reflect the spirit and creativity of the team and settled on an unfinished ground floor space a block away in the Meriwether Building in Hailey.

“The high volume ceilings and unfinished interiors suited our needs perfectly,” says Sammis. “It provided us with an empty canvas with which to design a space that would more closely match the imagination and character of our team.”

From top to bottom: The conference room allows for computer-supported collaboration during meetings and visual aids for clients.   The airy plan was determined early on to contribute to better communication between departments.   Custom workspaces and cabinets by Dutchman’s provide essential access to archives and resource and reference materials.

To start, the current crew of art directors, editors, designers, and advertising sales people provided input about the type of space they envisioned, as well as a “wish list” of key items: the art team wanted natural light and a small work table for internal reviews, edit wanted more open access to art for the sharing and exchange of ideas during production, sales wanted the ability to meet with clients and easily access resource materials and back issues, accounting wanted privacy, and everybody needed a space for brainstorming sessions or making presentations and reviewing design with custom publishing clients.

“We have simultaneous deadlines on various projects and have to shift focus quickly so the open office is the way to go,” says Sammis. “Having this space is more indicative of the kind of work that we do and the quality of the work we do. We’ve got a really sharp, independent, fun and creative team.”

The design needed to be efficient and resourceful, with lots of storage space and a way to create privacy without limiting the natural light from the north and east facing windows flooding the interior space. Jennifer Hoey Interior Design helped solve these issues with fluid work spaces combined with barn door tracks and hanging doors on the private offices.

The feeling of a converted loft is accomplished through exposed water pipes and ventilation system tubes in the main office spaces, which are incorporated as part of the design as items exposed to view under an industrial coat of flat-finish black paint. The entire office, crisp in its colors of wood, slate gray laminate and black steel, with a few attention-grabbing magazine covers on open metal frames, speaks a contemporary language and provides space for modern needs such as a room for the computer server and another for archives of past issues.

“We went for a clean simple look using natural materials,” Sammis says.

Renewable bamboo went down on the floors because of the eco-consciousness of the employees and owner. Other considerations were made for the employees and their health. For example, each person has the use of a common-area gym and showers.

Central to the design was the desire to create a space that fostered collaborative work as a team, not only trading ideas but also taking inspiration from each other during the day. Each workspace needed to be wired for intranet to access the central database. Because inspiration comes from all manner of ideas and sources, each workspace has large magnet boards to post the latest quote, photo or inspired vision. In keeping with the clean, modern aesthetic using natural materials, basic magnetized steel was chosen from an industrial source and securely adhered to the walls by Ben Stahl of Lee Gilman Builders.

“Now we have a better flow,” Sammis says.

Along with improved flow, there’s a conference room, something everyone on the staff wanted. Immediately inside the door of the office sits an area with a contemporary wood conference table from Poliform and a stunning vegetal-dyed rug from New Moon in muted colors of eggplant and sage. A wall-mounted flat screen display allows for presentations and a stunning tree adds greenery in the space, which doubles as the welcome space.

Altogether, the two main goals—to have a conference room for clients, weekly staff meetings, and advertising presentations and to have an open office where collaboration rules—were accomplished without difficulty in the new building. >>>



Rod Kagan:
Makes Home his Office

Rod Kagan laughs at the thought of having an office with a computer, much less a desk. He doesn’t even need paper much.

“This is my office,” he says, indicating his workshop, filled with welding masks, propane torches, drill presses, grinders and air compressors.
Kagan, a metal sculptor, has operated for 33 years from an office inside an octagon he built himself in Chocolate Gulch north of Ketchum. Light pours downward from windows at the top and from three windows cut into the wooden walls.

Like a seamstress with a dress pattern, Kagan draws on sheets of bronze and fits pieces into three dimensions.

“I draw on the metal and very carefully cut it out,” Kagan says. “I usually know what I want to do beforehand.”

His sculptures are hollow columns of bronze welded at the seams, then sanded smooth. The metal is washed with acid to provide colors ranging from green to steely gray and sealed with wax to prevent chemical changes from the elements.

The shapes resemble totem poles with stylized faces although Kagan has also created a series of bronze benches and reclining female forms. His work is meant for the outdoors and that’s where most of his hundreds of collectors put it.

Everything he needs to create the works lives in the octagon, though he usually sands and acid washes outside in the open air for safety.

The home he shares with his wife is composed of two linked octogons that sit slightly uphill from the workshop. The sculptor’s “office” connects to the entry hall of his house with stairs and a handrail made of the iron tracks of an ore cart removed from an Idaho silver mine.

Every day Kagan descends a diamond-patterned metal stairway into the cool concrete floor of his office, the place where ideas flow from his hands into reality.

Kagan’s work is intensely physical, and that’s how he likes it. He doesn’t own a computer and wouldn’t want to design with one. In high school in New Jersey, he built a hot rod himself and was inspired to continue similar work with similar tools.

Chain hoists allow him to lift the sculptures unassisted, the same way a car engine would be lifted. A metal surgical table purchased from a junkyard allows him to cut designs without bending over and tiring his back.

All around him are things he loves, metal tools to make metal take shape. He started with welding found objects such as gears, hay baler arms and tractor wheels into oddball mechanical columns and then he discovered sheets of bronze could become vertical or horizontal works of art.

His office contains the inspiration of shapes and tools and materials waiting to be converted.

“An office is where you work and that’s where I work,” Kagan says.

Of his time creating in the Ketchum area (where a Los Angeles market is handy), he says luck must have brought him to the area back in 1973, when property north of town was affordable.

“This is almost too good to be true,” he says. “I’m inspired by metal, I continue to be inspired. I wouldn’t be a stone or any other kind of sculptor. This is my medium and I’m lucky to have picked a town like this.”


Like many writers, Sue Bailey wonders if the quality of work is influenced by the space in which it is done.



This article appears in the Spring 2009 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.