The Tiny Office
(watch the full video below)
“Sometimes, you just want to build something.”
The above quote is from Jes Sanders, a Charlotte-area architect. Through his company, Studio S Architecture, he has been designing homes and commercial buildings for two decades. In his profession, he enjoys working with customers to help them realize their dream spaces. While that is a rich, rewarding experience for him, sometimes the pull of performing hands-on labor wins out over time at a desk, behind a computer.
“Right now, a lot of my customers enjoy building craftsman-style homes,” he says. “Personally, I enjoy Modernism. As a designer, sometimes you just want to do something for yourself.”
Big ideas can lead to tiny spaces.
Indulging the Imagination
According to restoringsimple.com, the average family size has dipped from 3.67 in 1948 to 2.55 in 2012. Couple that with the average size of homes growing from 1,525 square feet in 1973 to nearly 2,600 square feet in 2013, and you have a strange dichotomy. Some folks are coming to the conclusion that “so much” space is “too much.”
If you’re a regular viewer of shows on HGTV, you know that the trend of “little houses” is really taking off. So-called “drastic downsizers” cite many reasons for going small, including increased mobility, lower taxes, decreased maintenance costs and, of course, initial price. In fact, by some estimates, 68 percent of tiny house dwellers have no mortgage. While there are many “pros,” such a drastic change is a little too extreme for some.
Following in that vein, Jes Sanders has found a way to combine his love of Modernism, his passion for “building it himself” and the popular call for smaller spaces. Call it a “happy tiny,” as opposed to a happy medium.
“There are a lot of fantastic applications for the tiny office, or ‘tiny studio,’” says Sanders. “You could use it as a painter’s studio, a writer’s retreat, or look at me – I’m using it as an architecture studio.”
According to Sanders’ website, some of the features of the tiny office include:
- Tall work surfaces facilitating standing/sitting layouts
- Plan flat file drawers
- Rolled plan cubbies
- Insulated walls, roof, and floor
- Dramatically high ceilings
- Painted oversized cementitious siding all around.
- Metal roof
While the standard size of Sanders’ creative cubes is 10′ x 12′, he says that building customized structures is definitely an option.
“There were two design principles that drove me,” he says. “The first was simplicity. I wanted to be very straightforward, and to only include those things that really needed to be there. I didn’t want a lot of decoration or superfluous detail. The other part was openness. As designers, one of the things we can do to make a small space really great is to open it up to the outdoors.”
To achieve that goal, Sanders relied on Patterson Pope to introduce him to the half-inch-thick tempered sliding glass modular wall from KI. Using this glass wall for the entire front of the unit created an open feel that invited in natural light. Patterson Pope also helped outfit the initial tiny office with modular casework, which helped make it an ideal workspace.
“Really, Patterson Pope helped with the whole design and helped me achieve the overall look,” says Sanders. “It’s exactly what I was going for and I’m really pleased. They helped it all come together nicely.”
The Origin of Inspiration
Sanders points out that some have noted the similarity between the tiny office’s profile and two shapes from popular culture – one local and one intergalactic. Locally, the shape is reminiscent of a 1950s-era sign above a shopping center not far from Sanders’ home. The other comparison? Well, it’s not entirely dissimilar to a sand crawler – the large vehicle used by the Jawas in the movie “Star Wars” to transport droids. “Maybe that’s my creative subconscious at work,” says Saunders. Hmm. Inspiration from a long time ago – right across the street and in a galaxy far, far away.
Clearly, the freedom to imagine, and to create, is what continues to drive Sanders to express himself and innovate. I’m already envisioning how incorporating a tiny office to my back yard might inspire literary genius.
The world is changing. Like everything else, design and architecture evolve. The various instruments used to give physicality to great ideas are all around us. Combing through what’s available and combining them in new and unique ways can give rise to astounding achievements.