Surface and Dorsia Merge Cultures, Work Needs With ROOM Booths

Nailing hybrid workplace design is one thing, but achieving it for two companies sharing an office is a whole other challenge. While outfitting the Surface and Dorsia shared spaces in New York and Miami, we turned to ROOM for a stylish, sustainable, and forward-thinking approach to office life.

Surface and Dorsia's shared office space in Miami. Photography by Ryan J Troy

Functionality is top of mind when designing an office, but the Surface and Dorsia teams didn’t want to sacrifice beauty as a result. We turned to our partner ROOM to help outfit our new hybrid workspace in the Miami Design District. ROOM’s sleek, soundproof cybertecture pods provide a salve for the clamorous open-plan offices of the past decade and unlock a world of possibilities for the post-pandemic future. Catie Case, our senior director of special projects, sat down with ROOM to chat about the design process.

For almost three years, I’ve been handling large-scale partnerships and special projects for the design publication Surface. But in early 2022, when our CEO Marc Lotenberg was building out the team for Dorsia—an innovative restaurant reservation platform he founded—a few of us started splitting time between the two companies. Surface has been around for 30 years, and it’s a well-oiled machine. We sadly don’t have the print magazine anymore, but we publish online and produce our daily newsletter Design Dispatch, which delivers essential information from the world of design in a digestible format. Dorsia, meanwhile, is a hospitality tech startup that’s bringing dynamic pricing to the restaurant reservation space. It’s a members-only platform that works directly with top restaurants to secure the hard-to-get tables that are otherwise seemingly impossible. We’re constantly developing new product features and opening new markets, so we’re moving at an extremely fast pace.

Between the two companies, we have a wide range of people from different industries spanning hospitality, tech, media, fashion, finance, and more. Everyone has different working styles, and we needed office spaces in New York and Miami that accommodated all of them. That’s where we turned to our longtime partner, ROOM, for help.

L: Catie Case, Senior Director of Special Projects, and Yogi the cavapoo. R: A special edition ROOM Phone Booth. Photography by Ryan J Troy

A No-Brainer Aspirational Brand

I love the ROOM brand—it’s aspirational for an office product. Surface looks at the world through the lens of design, so we wanted to ensure we had something beautiful. Office products are not always beautiful, so when I found a brand that fit our aesthetic, it was a no-brainer.

I initially reached out to ROOM in 2021 and felt an immediate connection to the brand and team. Surface had a hybrid office/art gallery in the Miami Design District at the time, and a ROOM Phone Booth was essential in making our space functional during the day. We have since written about ROOM’s products and approach to the future of work, and partnered on a conceptual design for one of the brand’s Phone Booths with L.A. artist CK Reed.

A Sustainable Alternative to New Construction

In Miami, we recently leased an open-concept industrial space that was pretty bare bones—not even a single conference room. We knew we would need the space as Dorsia grew, but we needed to create private zones to accommodate people—like our CEO—who are on calls frequently throughout the day. We didn’t have a great solution for that or for small-group meetings. We were going to have to build everything from scratch.

One reason I was attracted to ROOM was their commitment to sustainability. That was absolutely important to us. I liked the choice of materials, the sustainable practices, and the beauty of the brand itself. By choosing them, there was no need to build rooms out of drywall and thus no environmental waste (or the headache of dealing with a big construction project).

We looked to ROOM’s modular architecture to transform the blank space in Miami’s Design District. Photography by Ryan J Troy

Expertise in Space Planning

It was great working with the ROOM team because they’re the experts. They helped us lay out a series of different-sized meeting rooms and phone booths using CAD software. When you’re building out an office, there are a million things that potentially might not fit or look quite the way you wanted, so it was comforting to have a solid plan without a bunch of ad hoc changes.

We ended up with two walls of ROOM office pods. There are two phone booths, two focus rooms, and two meeting rooms. We didn’t necessarily follow a specific formula—we just wanted a nice mix of places where individual people could work, which the two phone booths are great for. The focus rooms accommodate staffers who are on calls for most of the day, and the meeting rooms are great for people who need to get together with someone either externally or with colleagues. We wanted to strike the right balance for both Dorsia and Surface. Editors by nature have more quiet time versus being in a ton of meetings or on calls, but plenty of people on the Dorsia side like quiet work, too. It’s about making sure everyone has comfortable places to sit, work, and utilize a ROOM when they need it. We also thought about balance for the space so it didn’t feel like an entire space full of pods. The ROOM booths fit perfectly because they’re not like traditional office furniture.

We were also lucky to partner with local showroom Luminaire, which helped us outfit the rest of the Miami space with one-of-a-kind furnishings and design objects. We aimed to make the space flexible, accommodating daytime work needs but could easily be transformed for entertaining and events in the evening. Instead of singular desks, we opted for dining-style tables and chairs, and beautiful couches. There is one small nook in the office with more traditional desks and monitors for the finance team. Everyone else floats like it’s a coworking environment, which I love because it’s not like our workers are utilizing the same place in the same office every single day. It’s very fluid. You get variety even if you are going into the office five days a week.

In New York, we recently took over a sublease from a company that left an array of desks, couches, and a small conference room. But there wasn’t more than one place to take a call or sit in private. There also wasn’t space to build another conference room. We added two ROOM phone booths, which were a perfect fit for us. And as the New York office evolves, we plan to incorporate a similar aesthetic as our Miami office.

A mix of ROOM individual and multi-person ROOMs are integrated throughout the Miami space. Photography by Ryan J Troy

Responsive Service and a Booth Obsession

The ROOM team was great to work with and helped expedite our order, which was no small feat. We started chatting about the project in late spring and the units were installed by early summer.

I recommend ROOM products to everyone, but especially to those who are rethinking or redesigning their offices and don’t want it to feel like they’re in a cold, stark corporate environment. You can really mix things up, which ROOM does well through design. I love the calming color palettes and materials. Even the lighting is thoughtful. It doesn’t feel harsh. It feels warm, inviting, and like a very beautiful yet functional piece of design.

Thanks to ROOM, we’ve created a series of spaces that actually excite people to come back to the office. People want to be here. That, along with our company culture, makes it so it’s not a chore to go to work.

The entrance was designed to feel gallery-esque with design furniture, a custom DJ booth by Hamilton Holmes, disco ball by Randy Polumbo, and wallpaper by Flavor Paper. Photography by Ryan J Troy
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