While many employers are grappling with the post-pandemic Return To Work conundrum, Bobby Berk, the interior design expert on Netflix’s Queer Eyes, has created an innovative solution. The designer’s work from home concept satisfies his growing team’s need for creativity, collaboration, and comfort. Berk purchased a 1970s Spanish-style home in the Hollywood Knolls neighborhood (conveniently located half a mile from his own home), renovated it, and turned it into his eponymous design firm’s new HQ.
“I wanted to find a space where I could really showcase our designs and products in a residential interior setting,” Berk tells AD of his new digs, which opened five months ago. “The front of this house is completely set up as if it’s an actual home. It has a dining room, the kitchen, andliving room. There’s a little library office that we use if somebody needs to take a Zoom and they don’t want to do it in front of everybody.”
Berk’s former office space was located in the historic Pacific Electric Building in trendy Downtown Los Angeles, which was built in 1905 and originally housed the railroad station of the same name. “I was obsessed with it,” Berk enthuses. “I loved it, but we had outgrown it. I started looking for other office spaces, but I just wasn’t finding anything that I was inspired by. I think as an interior design firm that it is very important to be in a space that is inspiring, instead of sad and depressing.”
One day it dawned on Berk that he’d been looking in all the wrong places. “We design homes. We could be immersed in a home that is inspiring and where my staff would enjoy coming to work everyday—that was really important,” Berk says. With that, the house hunting began. “We started looking at a lot of neighborhoods around Los Angeles. I started looking where the majority of my employees lived because I wanted to reduce their commutes.”
After finding the right home, Berk removed the walls connecting three bedrooms on the second floor, creating a large workspace to enliven a culture of partnership and co-creation. “I think it functions very well because when you’re designing things, especially as a team, you need to communicate with each other,” he says. “During the pandemic and while this house was under construction, we were all working from home and it was a little harder because you weren’t able to show each other samples or ideas. It was very important to me that they were hearing each other’s conversations. Having everybody back in the office together has really allowed things to be much more streamlined and fun.”
The WFH vibe is now an integral part of Bobby Berk’s studio culture. On Fridays the team often orders in and has family lunch together in the dining room or the outdoor space. They also cook together—the only challenge is that nobody wants to do the cleanup afterwards, just like at home. Berk and his husband Dewey Do even host dinner parties in the “office” space because “the dining room seats way more people than my house does,” Berk says.
The first floor of the office house is staged with modern, quiet luxe furnishings (some of which are Berk’s own products) which are perfect for creating video and streaming content for the design studio. “I do live segments with QVC, we create stuff for YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram,” Berk says. “I wanted a space where I could really set things up beautifully and to be honest, I got tired of doing it in my home.”
The new setup was the perfect compromise. “I think the best thing about it is that it feels like home,” Berk says. “You don’t get any of that feeling like you’re going to an office, having to drive to Downtown LA and dealing with parking and traffic. We’re in a quiet residential neighborhood. The stress level you often get at work is greatly reduced because you have that feeling of being at home.”