An Uneducated Look at Pinterest's Unconventional New Headquarters

Business Insider
Pinterest has a sleek new HQ building in San Francisco which is perfectly suited to the company's present trajectory. Earlier this year, the image-sharing site overhauled its layout, moving to a cleaner, sleeker user interface. Now, that same shift is being allegorised by a gigantic staircase which spirals upward four floors and provides the centrepiece for the company's new San Francisco head office. The building used to be a John Deere factory, an American manufacturer best known for making huge pieces of agricultural machinery. As the company's designers explained to Business Insider, the staircase is "awash in white space and gets you to where you're going faster." As a whole, the building is colder, sharper, more business-like. But if this mega-unicorn is shaking-off its old horseshoes, it looks like they won't be coming off all at once.

Lounge and bar in the old HQ - img src: Business Insider
The old HQ was characterised by a hearty dash of that particular branded chaos - controlled, clean, held back to arm's length - which renders hipsters drooling for more. The security desk was a motor car; real vegetation sprouted from and old suitcase and bicycles; coloured yarn (that's American for 'string') was coiled about, running around seating areas and hugging structural beams. (There's a full tour of the offices here) It had all the penchants of a young, fresh enterprise: a brave look, new ideas and bags of creativity. You also got the sense of acumen, quality and professionalism: beneath the warm and cosy appearance, you knew that a lot of hard work built that place. I mean, think of the rent! But as times are changing, so too are looks: and as the company's new venture follows the pull of the current, perhaps we should think of it as a branded new chapter in the grand catalogue of Pinterest's overall accomplishments.

The New HQ, exterior - image source: Business Insider
The architecture practice behind the new offices, IwamotoScott, has also been responsible for some very cool building designs during the 2010's. From the outside, the look has moved from arts and crafts to minimalism: the dilapidated chic that was Sodosopa (sorry, I mean the old office) has been replaced by a large, rectangular shoe box, with plenty of big windows and a few paperclip things on the top corners. The whole thing hangs like a post on a cork board: it doesn't forget the company's roots (come on, it's an artsy refurbishment of an old factory - how hipster can you get?). But it's sharper, more restrained than before - perhaps more joyless, but also more grown-up.

That's the image the company is projecting anyway; and it's not just because of the new site layout. The company itself was valued at $11 billion last year, after which it began expanding into even more office properties in San Francisco. Incidentally, check out Pando or Investopedia for an explanation of how Pinterest got to such dizzying heights without really making any money (essentially, it's all about what it could potentially make were it to branch out into revenue generation in earnest).

Employees have taken it upon themselves to add a little charm, installing these quirky wall flowers to a lounge area. image source: Business Insider
Frank Gehry-ish, anyone? - img src: Business Insider
Overall, then, the new offices look a lot like the company itself. Which makes sense. And perhaps they imply the enduring desire to keep the show on the road for growth - I mean, if you squint hard, parts of it kind of look like the inside of a Frank Gehry studio... you know, before the buildings are finished and all that. But far be it from me, a lowly intern, to aspire so high, I personally wouldn't half mind working there. If only I could draw...

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