The entrance to Mother New York’s offices on Manhattan’s far west side in Midtown conveys that this isn’t your typical cubicle grid farm. Greeting visitors upon arrival are a series of hand saws nailed to a wall, a stuffed brown bear standing upright, a fleet of antique toy sailboats, and a ruby-red London telephone booth. Directly inside the entry door is a long bar that doubles as the front desk, where receptionists serve hand-pulled espressos and pour drafts of Stella Artois beer (a client).
There is an eclecticism to the Mother office, and the informality of the building sets that creative atmosphere,” says Charlie McKittrick, Head of Strategy at Mother. Dangling above the bar is a large collection of copper pots there for purely decorative purposes, and climbing above the kitchenware is a spiral staircase that ascends three skylight-lit stories to the roof that overlooks the Hudson River to the west and Midtown’s skyscrapers to the east. “That staircase and the light at the top of it creates a central core that everyone has to participate in, no matter what floor you’re working on, and that breaks up the cluster a normal floor plan creates,” explains McKittrick.
Mother New York’s space reflects how the organization simultaneously takes itself seriously and welcomes eccentricity, exemplified by the Damien Hirst painting that hangs on one wall and the framed photos of staffers’ mothers arranged like a collage on another. Each employee also has an image of their mother on their business card. “It reminds us, What would our mother think of what we’re doing?” says McKittrick.
The company’s work matches it’s irreverent style. Mother New York has hosted a dinner party in hot air balloons for Stella Artois, re-imagined iconic Vogue photo shoots using only Target products, and helped Crate & Barrel’s CB2 create the first-ever, crowd-sourced apartment designed by asking fans to vote on what pieces went in each room. As the company develops its projects, it’s typical for Mother New York’s creative department to hang their concepts on office wallboards for everyone to see.
“It creates a more open and collaborative way of working on a project,” says McKittrick. “A lot of times in advertising the creatives will lurk away in a dark room and work amongst themselves. The boards are a way of bringing that creating process out of the shadows and into the open. Everyone can see what is being worked on, even if it isn’t their project.”