Office tour: The Wonderfactory

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    After visiting web-design firm the Wonderfactory (thewonderfactory.com), you'll feel like a four-year-old on his first trip to Disneyland. There's no denying that the decor at this creative workplace run by cofounders David Link and Joe McCambley is out-of-this-world cool. Perhaps the fact that Link, pictured here, grew up visiting his mother on the set of The Muppet Show (where she was a writer) influenced the whimsical interior design. Tucked away in a nondescript building in the Flatiron District, the innovative, tech-savvy staff works with major names, including AOL, WebMD and The Huffington Post, to launch websites, mobile apps and advertising campaigns.


  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Your journey begins as soon as the elevator opens to the 11th floor and you find yourself seemingly trapped in a small, narrow library with no doors or windows. If you pay attention to the details, you'll notice the Wonderfactory logo on the custom-made wallpaper; or the initials L&M etched on a boat in the large, nautical-scene painting that was sourced from Getty Images, altered in Photoshop and printed on canvas.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    But more likely, you'll (hopefully) spot a framed sign that reads "Please pull cord for service" and a flagrant orange tassel hanging from the ceiling by a rope. Tug it to set off a trumpet sound, and the entire left bookshelf opens to reveal an entryway into the agency. "We have a camera hidden in a book," says Link. "Half the time we get a call from people saying, 'Hey, I'm in this old man's library, how do I find your office?' I've been threatening to put all these funny videos on YouTube." Link also uses this simple competency test as a way to assess potential employees.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "Overall, the office is supposed to be a combination of Las Vegas and Disneyland," explains Link of the seven themed conference rooms throughout the office that offer employees different inspiring environments. The west orange-and-white side of the workplace is where the 16-person project- and operations-management team sits (the company has 28 employees total), and a streak of undulating brown teak wood runs from Link and McCambley's joint office throughout the space, "connecting" everyone with creative energy.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The white waiting room is meant to emulate a "clean, soothing hotel lounge," says Link. It is also slightly raised by one step, so as to put potential clients on a literal pedestal.


  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Though the entire office cost about $800,000 to decorate, Link mixes moderately priced goods, such as these Sebra geometric shelves, with costlier pieces, like the Oluce stone-shaped lamps.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This festive printed pillow offers a pop of Caribbean blue to the chic, minimalist lounge.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Many important client meetings and presentations are held in this conference room. "We went with big flatscreens instead of a projector because it's a crisper and clearer [picture]," explains Link. "We also have an Xbox 360 with surround sound, so we play games here after work."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This mixed-crystal chandelier from Design Within Reach (locations throughout the city; visit dwr.com) adds a touch of glamour to the corporate room. "It's a traditional chandelier with a modern edge," says Link. "It mimics the shape of the dining-room table.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "We like the classic and gothic look of Brocade," Link says, referring to home-decor emporium Brocade Home (47 W 20th St at Eighth Ave; 212-219-8904, brocadehome.com), where this silver mirror was sourced from.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "These are actually video screens that we use to cycle pictures," notes Link of these frames that his contractors built. "We have about four or five throughout the office that we personalize for clients coming in. So if it's a jet company, we will show images of skies."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Employees meet in this cozy room to hold brainstorming sessions. "We didn't want whiteboards, because we all came from corporate environments," notes Link. "So we chose blackboards with colored markers." The two beige walls are actually magnetic, so people can post documents on them.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This space is called "the view" because there are monitors on three walls rolling 360-degree video footage of places like the Louvre museum in Paris, to offer employees a way to meet in different settings. When coworkers go on vacation, Link sends them with a camera that shoots three angles to create more panoramas.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "When an employee is hired, he or she chooses a character that inspires him or her," says Link, motioning to these shelves displaying toy figurines. "We've got some rock stars, superheroes, movie characters and kids' stuff. I'm Superman. Some of the choices are hard to find, too, like Underdog. How do you find Underdog?"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Besides the bathrooms, the stainless steel kitchen is probably one of the simplest spots in the workplace. The sleek silver chairs are from Crate & Barrel (611 Broadway between Houston and Bleecker Sts, 212-780-0004 * 650 Madison Ave at 59th St, 212-308-0011 * crateandbarrel.com), while Benjamin Moore Electric Orange paint jazzes up the walls.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The east part of the office is where the creative department sits. "We wanted it to be bright, fun and almost kidlike," enthuses Link. "We didn't want it to match so much. As you go from room to room, you'll see that it is very eclectic."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    These umbrella lamps, created by Link's contractors, were inspired by Mary Poppins and German industrial designer Ingo Maurer's work.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The living room is where the staff gathers after-hours to play Rock Band. "We try to have big parties two to three times a year," Link says of the staff's socializing habits. "We invite clients and have poker tables, chocolate fountains, magicians and fortune tellers."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    All of the lamps lining the wooden desks are different, giving the space an eclectic look.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The blue mural was designed by Angel Angelov (angelangelov.com), who was an illustrator at the Wonderfactory. "It starts with a little boy drawing from his imagination and turns into an urban Alice in Wonderland forest where pigs fly and weird things happen," explains Link.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Link and McCambley modeled this Arabian den, where many staffers eat lunch, after Indian eatery Mie N Yu (mienyu.com), in Washington, D.C. "In the restaurant, there were nooks with pieces that represent India during different years," explains Link.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    All of the exotic decorations are from e-commerce sites. The mosaic table is from a gardening company and is meant to be used as an outdoor piece.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    To enter the Secret Idea meeting room, you have to walk through a closet, which pays homage to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. "We posted a map of Area 51 [on the bulletin board], because this is supposed to be a room that doesn't really exist," says Link. The garments were all sourced from the Salvation Army (locations throughout the city; visit salvationarmyusa.org).

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "We wanted this to look like a 1940s interrogation room, but it became more playful," Link notes of the space that is often used for interviews. "We store props here that our wives won't let us have at home, like movie-inspired stuff, old tablets from yesteryear, swords and comic-book paraphernalia."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    While you can personalize this Ingo Maurer (89 Grand St at Greene St; 212-965-8817, ingo-maurer.com) chandelier with your own papers, the Wonderfactory staff has not gotten around to doing it yet.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "One of the reasons we created this Hell room is so we could say, 'I'll see you in Hell,'" jokes Link. "We found these uncomfortable, gothic throne chairs and we padded the walls to look like an insane asylum." The teardrop lamp is supposed to represent water above the flame on the desk.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The largest conference room has a green screen for shooting videos, and the zebrawood table can be folded up to create space. The trippy fantasy-forest illustrations on the walls were done by a 17-year-old teen from the Ukraine who didn't speak any English. Link found her through deviantART (deviantart.com) and had to communicate through her sister in order to give directions. "It was done in Adobe Illustrator and then printed on wallpaper," explains Link.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "We tried to make this room look like heaven," says Link. "You can also change the lighting to reflect daytime [yellow-gold] or nighttime [blue]."

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    This librarylike conference room is meant to emulate a 1930s smoking area. One of the Wonderfactory's clients, Life (life.com), donated the black-and-white photos on the walls. Employees contribute books for the shelves, but there is also a set budget they can use to buy more additions.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    The crystal chandelier gives the room a fancy, gothic feel. The ceiling was created from tin sheets.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    These comfy swinging chairs from Australia are where many staffers come to take naps.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    "It is the only room that you can't actually reserve," says Link of the library. "We wanted to have it open for people to just come in and read a book or get away from their desks. We even have a piano that you can plug headphones into, so people can come play or take lessons at night."

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  • Photograph: John Becker

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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

After visiting web-design firm the Wonderfactory (thewonderfactory.com), you'll feel like a four-year-old on his first trip to Disneyland. There's no denying that the decor at this creative workplace run by cofounders David Link and Joe McCambley is out-of-this-world cool. Perhaps the fact that Link, pictured here, grew up visiting his mother on the set of The Muppet Show (where she was a writer) influenced the whimsical interior design. Tucked away in a nondescript building in the Flatiron District, the innovative, tech-savvy staff works with major names, including AOL, WebMD and The Huffington Post, to launch websites, mobile apps and advertising campaigns.


Users say

1 comments
Lala
Lala

I love the idea of the blackboard using colored markers, it looks pretty neat and it also serves its purpose. There is a cool website called Dezign With a Z that offers both whiteboard wall decals and chalkboard wall decals. There are many designs to choose from and some of the even come with a pop of color! http://www.dezignwithaz.com/chalkboard-wall-clings-c-87_107.html