The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Office Design Lets Art Shine

Elsy Studios weaved industrial elements into the interior of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation which showcases art curated by NINE dot ARTS.

A geometric vinyl mural by Sandra Fettingis adorns the glass garage door that separates the office’s break room and conference room.

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to fostering an inspired, connected, and creative Denver region through arts and culture. It’s new, contemporary offices were designed for 5-6 employees, and includes space for community convenings. Its location within the Santa Fe Arts District enables employees to better understand, appreciate, and uplift the local art community. The goal of the art collection was to reflect Bonfils-Stanton’s mission of supporting Denver’s vibrant art and culture scene.

The space’s rustic brick exterior leads visitors to be pleasantly surprised when they walk into the modern space. Yet Elsy Studios, the designer for the project, weaved industrial elements into the interior as well. Exposed brick, concrete walls and wood ceilings are complemented by polished quartz countertops and glossy white cabinets, creating a sophisticated gallery atmosphere that further highlights the impressive art.

The office’s clean, contemporary design uses a neutral color scheme of black, white, and brown with subtle pops of orange to highlight the many vibrant artworks displayed throughout the space.

Through a neutral color scheme of black, white, and browns with subtle pops of orange, the furniture and finishes are all designed to highlight the colorful artworks scattered throughout the office space. All of the local art was thoughtfully curated by NINE dot ARTS to create a lively and engaging ambience. Glass doors and high ceilings provide a sense of openness and community, bringing the outside in.

Through a range of mediums including posters and 3D art, the collection at Bonfils-Stanton Foundation combines functionality and beauty. Rising and established Colorado artists, like muralist Ramón Irwin Bonilla and artist-educator Carlos Frésquez, are featured throughout the space. A  wall of rotating, eye-catching works bring freshness and excitement to the space, while multidimensional installations help establish intimate and collaborative areas within the office.

When was the project completed? 

March 2020

How many SF per person?

553 square feet per person.

How many employees work here?

5

Offices are enhanced by works from local artists, including “The Monk in the Blue Hat” by Thomas Evans (known in the art community as Detour) and “Bathing Gipsy” by Diego Rodriquez-Werner.

What is the average daily population?

All five staff members are now technically in the office. Due to flexibility around work-from-home, as well as some staff being less than FTE, most days we have three or four staff in the office at any given time. We strive for at least one day per week when all staff are present in order to have full in-person participation in staff meetings.

Is there a remote work or work from home policy? If so, what percent of employees are remote workers?

The policy has always been flexible, but even more so with the pandemic. The Foundation is allowing complete flexibility for employees to choose to work remotely or at the office. However, recently we have beeing trying to have all staff in the office at least one day per week.

Describe the work space type.

The space features four enclosed offices with one open plan space.

Denver artist Ramón Bonilla’s mural, “The slope of a straight line. The process of remodeling the future.” examines the concept of place by integrating minimalist, geometric, and low poly art styles into a timeless landscape that illustrates the many places that have shaped Bonilla’s particular notion of place.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided?

There are three conference rooms within the office, the largest holding up to 25 people. This conference room also features  large doors and an internal garage door that opens up into the dining room, breakroom, and kitchen areas. The dining and kitchen spaces can fit six people at the countertop and two in the small café. The second meeting room is a multifunctional, flex space that includes adjustable and foldable conference tables, which can transform the room into a boardroom or classroom.  For large gatherings, the table can be removed and the garage doors – which open to the outdoor patio and parking lot – allow for an indoor/outdoor hybrid event space. The last conference room has a traditional layout that seats eight people.

What is the project’s location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

It’s a half-mile away from a rail stop with many bus stops nearby. Located in the Santa Fe Arts District, there are various art and cultural centers, including the Museo de las Américas, the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, and the Colorado Ballet Headquarters. This ideal location even allows Gary Steuer, Bonfils-Stanton’s CEO, to commute to work via bicycle!

Carlos Fresquez’s graffiti-like painting “Mi Sangre Nueva / My New Blood” symbolizes Fresquez’s inner self interacting with his physical surroundings, suggestive of his Chicano culture and community and its impact on Denver’s evolution as a city.

How is the space changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Since all employees moved into the space last March in the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s quite COVID compatible. The office was shut down for months immediately following renovations, art and A/V installation, and furniture delivery.

It already has its own dedicated entrances with no shared lobby or elevator. The space is also at street level and designed for a small team, so there are office spaces for everyone. The main meeting room is quite large and includes two garage doors that allow for proper ventilation. People are also able to sit 6 feet apart.

Even so, there were small upgrades made after the reopening. Electric patio heaters were acquired to warm meeting spaces in the winter, and sanitizing stations were added to ensure clean common areas.

We continue to restrict use of the space by outside groups given the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic. Our lovely convening spaces were originally designed to be used by outside groups as a benefit to the community, and we have yet to do so. We will reassess in early 2022.

Any other information or project metrics?

There are 18-foot ceilings to provide a spacious feel and plenty of air volume. To ensure optimal security, the space allows the offices to be locked off from the meeting area to ensure securing during after-hours visits.

Elsy Studios, Interior Design Firm and Ryan Lawrence Photography

Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

Due to the small size of the team, no one is labeled as “C-suite.” The whole staff was involved in the planning and design process, but the CEO and CFO were the primary leads on working with the architects, contractors, designers, and NINE dot ARTS to consult on art and design.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used to create the space?

In collaboration with Bonfils-Stanton staff, NINE dot ARTS art consultants presented their curatorial visioning exercise to determine the types of spaces the offices would hold and how artwork could be used to help define and enhance those areas. Specifically, Bonfils-Stanton staff emphasized the importance of inviting the community in through a meaningful local art collection. Additionally, they indicated needing flexible space for  interns and future staff growth, as well as the ability to accommodate larger groups when donating space to other organizations’ meetings.

With this in mind, NINE dot ARTS curated a collection that not only reflected the Foundation’s forward thinking approach to convening communities through art, but also celebrated the artists they support. The resulting collection hosts a wide range of mediums from a diverse group of both established and emerging Colorado artists. From a gallery wall of promotional posters from past grantees, to a rotating exhibition wall refreshed annually by work from selected local artists, to areas where 3D art divides and defines smaller spaces, their new art collection helps amplify the Foundation’s mission.

Elsy Studios, Interior Design Firm and Ryan Lawrence Photography

Were there any other kinds of employee engagement activities?

Employees were constantly involved in the ongoing conversations about the design of the space. Everyone was able to work closely with the general contractor because they were also the architect and landlord. Since Heider Construction owned the building, there was a vested interest in designing a beautiful space.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

Given that the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation is closely tied to the art industry, the materials and art used were especially important in the design process.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

Prior to the pandemic, we prioritized good airflow and increased accessibility for people with disabilities. We regularly share updates on guidance from local and federal health authorities related to COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines with our staff.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

To preserve the building’s historic character, certain elements such as exterior walls and wooden ceilings were left unaltered. In contrast, the interior offices and conference rooms were finished with bright white painted drywall and glass to allow light to shine through and showcase the art. Glass garage doors were also installed around the large conference room to open up the space to the outdoor patio and breakroom for special events.

Elsy Studios, Interior Design Firm and Ryan Lawrence Photography

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space?

Our Inscape office furniture, specifically the adjustable height desks, have been an asset to employees’ ability to sit or stand while working. The unique Created Hardwood Live Edge Maple Table brings warmth to the break room while maintaining the historic character upheld by the space’s unfinished elements. Tech Lighting’s Palestra Pendant brightens up the breakroom and contrasts nicely with the raw wood table below, providing an elegant feel.

To accentuate the art, we used Soraa Arc LED track lights, neutral colored walls, and glossy white cabinets. The LED lighting has a violet colored base that allows it to render color with the entire visible spectrum, compared to typical blue-based lighting. Its superior color rendering is best for showcasing artwork by defining the true colors. The neutral walls and white cabinets contrast the radiant hues of the artwork, emphasizing its beauty.

Lastly, the Interface carpeting is environmentally conscious, which aligns with our values. With its use of 68% recyclable content and lack of adhesives in the installation, Interface is known for being one of the most sustainable flooring manufacturers.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

We included subtle nods to the brand color through design elements such as copper lines throughout the carpet in the conference room, orange seats on the conference room chairs, and orange chairs in the breakroom. Our Foundation’s  brand and mission are also highlighted throughout the impressive and varied local art collection. As experts in enhancing a brand story through art, NINE dot ARTS helped us weave our company’s commitment of amplifying local artists into our office space, using it as a clean backdrop to showcase a range of pieces. We now have a gallery wall of promotional posters sharing the story of past grantees, as well as an on-site 3D installation by Sandra Fettingis, which quickly became a signature image for the foundation and was even printed onto branded mugs for guest and company use.

Elsy Studios, Interior Design Firm and Ryan Lawrence Photography

What is the most unique feature of the space?

Not only does the glass garage door between the breakroom and large conference room close off the two spaces when necessary, it also serves as a unique art piece displaying the work of Sandra Fettingis. Additionally, the art collection includes both a gallery wall of promotional posters from past grant recipients and a rotating exhibition wall that will be updated annually to display the work of local artists.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

We included an opening to the outdoors in the breakroom to provide the perfect wellness break from daily work responsibilities.

What kinds of technology products were used?

Conference rooms are equipped with full A/V systems. The largest room also has a video projection system that consists of a mounted projector, screen, and ceiling microphones and speakers. In fact, the architect designed a suspended ceiling module to emphasize the air volume of the 18-foot meeting space. There is also a technology module with lighting, a speaker system, microphones, and a projector hovering over the center of the room to ensure that the mics will not use vital table space.

Additionally, there is a security system equipped with video monitoring and key fobs to safely protect the space. The video monitor has a fully integrated camera and mic unit in the small meeting space. In the lobby area, we installed a huge flatscreen with a BrightSign media player to display rotating images of the foundation’s work.

The 3D installation, “Forma Futura #3” by Jodi Stuart (left) and the painting “Really?” by Javier Flores and students of the disability rights nonprofit, Access Gallery (right), bring energy and inspiration to an office hallway.

If the company relocated to a new space, what was the most difficult aspect of the change for the employees?

We did have to relocate from our space in Daniels & Fisher tower to our new location in the Santa Fe Arts District. Overall, the employees are quite satisfied with the new space because of the increased square footage and art-focused community. If we had to choose a difficult aspect, it would be the decrease in local dining options compared to the old space on 16th Street in Downtown Denver.

How did the company communicate the changes and moves?

It was advertised across social media channels and website, on a dedicated webpage.

Who else contributed significantly to this project?

Architect/Contractor/Landlord: Hyder Construction

Designer: Elsy Studios

Furniture: Inscape, OFS, Global Furniture Group, Created Hardwood, Knoll, JANUS et Cie, Emeco, Top Knobs, Nevamar

Lighting: Tech Lighting, Soraa, Sonneman

Finishes: Interface, Sherwin Williams, Pental Quartz, Formica

Art: NINE dot ARTS

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