Tour the Offices of the Makers of BarkBox, Where Humans Work and Dogs Play
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Bark, the company behind the dog toy and treat subscription BarkBox, naturally has a dog-friendly office. The three open-plan floors of the company’s newly expanded headquarters in Chinatown, Manhattan, are dotted with fun yet functional accents for both people and canines to enjoy. The result is a space -- and a selection of products -- inspired directly by how pups play.
It also reflects the modern Scandinavian aesthetic of co-founder Henrik Werdelin, with glass, cool blues and warm woods serving as the backdrop for piles of technicolor dog toys and hand-drawn prototype sketches. In the open floorplan, employees sit at long “hygge”-style desks, meet in glass breakout rooms named after Domino’s Pizza cheesy breads and congregate around the kitchen taps that dispense cold brew and rosé on demand.
Canine cartoons, office dog-yoga or “doga” sessions and other playful features can spark creativity at anytime, pushing the startup to keep innovating for both species of its clientele.
Click through the slideshow to take a peek inside.
Welcome to the doghouse
As soon as you step into Bark’s space, you’ll know you’re in dog-lover territory. The startup’s welcome wall is peppered with toys created by the company, and there’s a stack of BarkBox sets, the company’s keystone product that sends subscribers a box full of fun treats, toys and games each month. The contrast between bold color and sleek modernism sets the tone for the design of the entire space.
Because Bark designs all of its toys in-house, space to create and test prototypes is essential. From fabric samples to squeakers to a 3D printer, Bark toymakers have a full toolbox. The company also builds all of its promotional content in-house, including “sets” for social media campaigns.
Watch and learn
Bark designers gain prime insights into dog behaviors by studying how their colleagues’ dogs interact with their creations. RFID tags are affixed to Bark toys to track which ones the dogs play with most. This type of observation has helped them divide dogs into play categories: For example, “Destroyers” love to rip apart stuffed toys and tear out their squeakers.
Dogs must wash paws
In an office of hardwood floors and lots of white, cleanliness is important not only for people, but their pets, too. Near the entrance of the office, Bark installed a wash station to ensure pristine paws -- rain or shine. Without mud and dirt to worry about, dogs are free to roam without ruining white walls or anyone’s dry-cleaned slacks.
Let's meet over cheesy bread
Cheesy bread and dog lovers -- an unexpected but heavenly match. Back in 2013, Bark admitted to its Domino’s cheesy bread obsession via Twitter and started pestering the brand to give them free food. The begging worked: Domino’s sent the team hundreds of dollars worth of vouchers. As a tribute and inside joke, Bark named its various conference breakout spaces after the melty morsels, from “Nuggz” to “Parmesean.” Phrases like “meet at 4 p.m. in Feta” are not uncommon, giving meetings and conversations fun twists.
The sleek glass doorways at Bark showcase as well as separate the spaces and products behind. Yet the minimalism of these doors is balanced with details such as stickers and sketches by cartoonist Dave Coverly. Sprinkled with clever canine comics, passageways and entrances throughout the office surprise employees and visitors alike with light-hearted jokes and cute “warnings.” These indicators of dog-lover culture establish the “rules” that are unique to the space.
A long workday drains both Bark employees and their canine muses. To help them relax, the company has equipped the space with these clever cubbies, soft and separate from the main floor, for relaxation and quality cuddle time with pups. Plush and inviting, these cubbies help employees feel rejuvenated, ready for work and play -- “if you want some fur on your hands while you code,” as Werdelin jokes.
Sit, don't stay
May I take your coat?
Bark has a policy called “Ban the Bone,” meaning it avoids canine cliches such as paw prints and toy bones in its decor. “I think it’s just lazy,” Werdelin says. “It shows you have clearly not thought about, what is the true intent?”
However, there is no shortage of dog-inspired details like these coat hangers. Fun yet functional, employees and visitors alike experience small surprises in everyday objects.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere
Whether Bark employees need to boost their energy or wind down, the office has the solution on tap: Choose from either cold brew coffee or rosé. The quirky tap centers this kitchen, and it encourages mingling.
Werdelin says Bark strives for an “apartment feel” with the space. Some employees even stop by the office on weekends for one last drink at the end of a night out. “At parties,” Werdelin says, “all the cool kids hang out in the kitchen.”
Dog lover luncheon
The back of the second floor boasts natural lighting, a mini kitchen and a hardwood table that comfortably seats 12. Every Friday, Bark employees gather for all-staff lunches, where they loosen up and share a meal among friends. One employee gets to pick what they order each week, and there’s an elaborate rule system that determines who gets to choose when.
Coffee + cartoons
How do you say 'hygge'?
Many aspects of the space were designed with humans in mind, evoking feelings of comfort, relaxation and home. Hygge is the Danish word for “living cozily,” and comfy chairs and couches in this light-flooded quiet area offer just that: a cozy corner.
You work, they play
Sometimes, dogs want to play a little bit rougher than is conducive to productivity on the office floor. Plus, some visitors would not take kindly to 15 dogs running to greet them and begging to be pet upon their arrival. Bark has the solution: a back-office play area with toys galore. Employees can sit comfortably and keep dogs company, or they can leave pups to their own devices in a safe space.
Not to mention, not all dogs that visit the Bark office are overly social, and a free-for-all could induce stress. For a smooth transition to office life, Bark has a dog therapist go through onboarding with every pup that will be coming in regularly.
These sleek stadium seats allow employees to escape rigid desks and comfortably collaborate, but they also double as invaluable storage units. Hidden compartments in the benches keep the Bark offices organized.
Ever find yourself feeling lonely in your office bathroom? Bark has a solution: One restroom has side-by-side toilets so you can bring a friend, or maybe just crack a smile.