Harriet Moon and Michelle Wight not only opened the doors of their boutique marketing firm Not Your Standard Agency this summer, the pair also opened the doors of a quaint new office space in One Capital Place in George Town. The office is a breath of fresh air in the otherwise corporate space, blending functional office design with more ‘millennial’ accents inspired by the social media sphere such as pale pink furniture and palm-print wallpaper.
The co-founders worked together on the design of the office and indeed seem to play ying-and-yang quite a lot in their roles. Harriet is the self-professed fashionista of the pair, while Michelle is the avid traveler and together they used their keen eye when curating furniture and accessories from worldly travels for the 600-square- foot space. InsideOut caught up with Harriet and Michelle over the summer to discuss DIY office design.
INSIDEOUT: With a new business on the horizon, what were you looking for in terms of office space?
HARRIET MOON: While initially office space seemed like a bit of a luxury to have on day one, since we officially launched Not Your Standard this summer, without a doubt, the No.1 question we’ve had is ‘where is your office?’
Finding office space in Cayman is tricky. It can be expensive, especially for a start-up, but we’re super pleased with our new digs at One Capital Place. The modest 600-square-foot space had previously proved hard to rent – too small for many established businesses and too big for a solopreneur. But centrally located in George Town, we’ve found the newly renovated office space perfectly placed for nipping up to Camana Bay for a meeting, into town for lunch at Bread & Chocolate or happy hour on the waterfront.
IO: What were your influences in terms of design? If the project had a mood board, what are some of the things we would have seen on it?
HM: In terms of a project mood board, it would be very similar to our creative brief for Not Your Standard’s brand development. Not Your Standard’s brand identity is a playful and contemporary take on our locale – turquoise blue water, white sandy beaches and the lush tropical vegetation of the Caribbean mixed with sleek and styled black-and-white elements influenced by our time spent living and working in urban metropolises like New York and London. And, as a company founded by two women, we were of course partial to blush pinks and rose golds!
Rather than keeping things strictly business, we wanted to bring our office to life by incorporating lifestyle elements, like a breakfast nook and cozy meeting area, as well as touches of our personalities and interests, like our favorite books and souvenirs from our travels, into our visual composite. Our office reflects the culture of our brand, the freshness of our work, and makes for a pretty darn good second home. We feel very at home in the space, and wanted that feeling to carry across to those who visit us.
IO: The space has so much natural light. Was that on purpose?
HM: When we first viewed the space, while it had a fantastic, well-lit office in the back, the rest of the room was a little dark and dull. Adding a just-about floor-to-ceiling interior window and turning the private office into a cozy meeting room has made a world of difference in filling the entire space with natural light [and said meeting room into a garden conservatory of sort]. Plus, the interior window was the perfect spot for Not Your Standard signage – a white decal from FastSigns against palm print wallpaper found on Etsy.
IO: Take us through the design process – how long did it take and where did you source your larger items from?
HM: We wanted to create something that didn’t feel like a corporate meeting room. We wanted the space to be warm and welcoming, a space where we could sit with clients informally over a coffee or host creative groups for brainstorming over wine. We finished up at our previous jobs in early June and flew to Miami the very next day so didn’t have a lot of time to research specific items for the office but had a good idea of the styles we were looking for and, due to budget, where we were looking to shop. This meant that we had to think on our feet and pull the overall design together very quickly.
IO: Love the white board wall. What an amazing place to brainstorm. Tell us about the installation process and where you sourced it from.
HM: Not to sound totally cliché but every creative agency should have a whiteboard wall. We did our research and opted for ReMARKable paint over other better-known brands. [It was] a small investment and it’s proved worth its weight in gold for brainstorming, strategizing, planning and doodling until our creative hearts are content.
The paint comes with an easy step-by-step guide and the installation process was pretty straight-forward. You first have to apply a primer coat, which then needs to be left to dry for 24 hours, after which the whiteboard paint is applied and left to cure for 48 hours. You do need to be diligent about cleaning the wall as marker that is left on the paint for a long period of time becomes hard to clean off.
IO: The bookshelf makes a bold statement with all its accessories. Take us through some of your favorite accessories here and why you chose them.
HM: Every accessory is something that we owned already and adds to the personality of the space. We’re both avid travelers so were able to balance out the white, modern shelves with interesting knick-knacks from our travels, like a traditional Costa Rican coffee grinder and original Cuban cigar boxes to a South African tribal sculpture and Japanese teapot, mixed in with some of our most inspirational reads – like Grace Coddington’s memoir and Alexis Jones’ “I Am That Girl.”
IO: Designing your own workspace is exciting and even more so when it is your own company. What are your favorite features of the space now that you have moved in?
HM: The conference room is by far the centerpiece of the office. The natural light ensures our plants thrive and the addition of the feature wallpaper and interior window with our logo adds a true Not Your Standard touch. It’s where we meet with clients and host wine nights with other creatives. We won’t brag about our in-office wine fridge, but without a doubt the second most-used appliance in the Not Your Standard office is the Nespresso machine – now part of our morning ritual, pre-meeting pick-me-up and/or simply an afternoon treat.