By Meghan Hall
Each year, the International Interior Design Association honors firms who present innovative and original design solutions for their clients. This spring, San Francisco-based Fennie + Mehl was named a 2019 IIDA Honor Awards Finalist for its conceptualization and delivery of Anaplan’s bold new headquarters in San Francisco. The three-level, 55,000 square foot space evokes the growing company at every turn, its design inspired by the transparency and connectivity the platform itself seeks to provide its clients.
“Anaplan describes themselves as a cloud-based business, a planning and performance management platform that allows multiple departments in major companies to collaborate,” explained Omied Arvin, an associate at Fennie + Mehl. “They are really a communication and planning tool, and because they market themselves as connecting companies in a meaningful way, establishing connections was a big theme of this project.”
The original space — previously occupied by a healthcare company, according to Dough Mehl, principal at Fennie + Mehl — was disconnected and siphoned off, the complete opposite of the open and transparent office that Anaplan hoped would be the final project. In order to get the open look and feel they wanted, the design team completely gutted the space.
“It was just inefficient and had the mentality of a medical office building,” said Mehl. “And it just wasn’t them. It was like a maze, and everything was blocked.”
Under Fennie + Mehl’s direction, elongated dropped 10-foot high ceilings connect the entire floorplate of each level, while open ductwork and open shelving carried the themes of transparency and connectivity into the more detailed aspects of the space. At the center of the office, and the main focal point, is three-story metal staircase which connects all levels of the office not just physically, but visually.
“The connection between employees and clients was something that we grabbed from Anaplan’s business model, and we wanted to translate that into the overall design of the project,” said Arvin.
Mehl agreed. “There’s an honesty to the space,” he added. “Nothing is hidden.”
Additionally, Mehl and Arvin emphasized that there are no private offices, not even for the company’s CEO and CFO. The goal, said the pair, continued to build on the collaborative and social atmosphere the company strives for every day.
“This is a democratic company that’s not hiding behind the curtains,” said Arvin. “They really encourage not just work, but collaboration, socialization.”
Arvin added that in lieu of meeting rooms, freestanding structures were built throughout each floor. The structures have digital touchscreen televisions and whiteboards incorporated into them, and are meant to replace standard huddle rooms or conference areas. There are two to three per floor, each slightly different in geometry and size to create visual interest and serve as wayfinding cues.
Throughout the space, polished concrete, mixtures of different types of woods and a neutral paint palette help to create a comfortable and hospitable office. Rugs of varying textures and colors help to break up different sections of the office, while a coffee and drink bar and outdoor deck are popular gathering spots among employees.
Anaplan’s logo is creatively incorporated into varying aspects of the space, including in ceiling plates and wooden backdrops.
“They are very passionate about their logo,” said Arvin. “The logo recurs throughout the space in unexpected ways. It is a sort of subconscious reminder of the unlimited perspectives that Anaplan offers.”
The new office, according to Arvin and Mehl, is a significant improvement over Anaplan’s previous space.
“It’s a night and day difference,” said Mehl, who added that Anaplan’s previous office did not have any windows.
The new headquarters, Fennie + Mehl hopes, will help to take the company into a new phase of growth and development. The design of the office is meant, said Arvin, to help the company attract and retain employees in one of the most competitive employment markets in the company.
“Anaplan really just wanted to bring this start-up into a new chapter of the organization where they are really starting to act more like a Fortune 500 company,” said Arvin. “They saw themselves as starting from scratch with this building, and the design speaks to their more mature character and how they are growing as a company.”
Founded in 2006, Anaplan raked in $240.6 million in total revenue in 2018, a 43 percent increase year-over-year. For its work on Anaplan’s San Francisco office, Fennie + Mehl has been listed as a 2019 IIDA Honor Awards Finalist in March, and the office’s design will be expanded to Anaplan’s other offices around the world.