Since starting Craighill in 2015, we’ve occupied many spaces. Our first office was a glorified closet where we took calls, polished metal, and designed new products all in one room. Over the years we slowly but surely upgraded into larger and larger closets, until one day we looked around and realized that we weren’t in a closet at all. Throughout this evolution we have rarely stopped to document our surroundings, but that changes today, right now, with this here journal entry…
Last April we relocated from our original office building at 87 Richardson St. here in Brooklyn to just a couple miles up the road at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC).
The GMDC has a fascinating history — built in 1868 and originally known as the Chelsea Fiber Mill, this historic brick building was a hub for maritime rope and textile production. One hundred years later the mill belonged to New York State and seemed destined for demolition, until a true hero appeared with some extra cash to spare.
The building was sold for just $1.00 (really) to The North Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, and from there it became what it is today: an affordable home for artists and small businesses (exclusively!) amid tall glass apartment buildings and corporate offices.
We feel incredibly fortunate to have found a home here, among other designers, artists, furniture makers, and creators. To celebrate one year spent in our new home, we wanted to document some of our favorite parts of the office and building. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our daily routine and endeavors.
Walking to the GMDC, one can’t help but notice the new construction of high rises looming — the cranes meticulously lifting, swaying, and dropping. In the parking lot, UPS and FedEx trucks vie for the choice loading dock spot, artisans lead their giant dogs into the building, and somehow the B43 bus manages to loop around the bustling lot at the end of its route.
Before entering, you might pause at the small waterfront park to contemplate New York City’s puzzling system of nature and industry. Surely, the pigeons experience their best quality of life by the water, one might think — the breeze from Newtown Creek makes them soar higher, and for longer.
Space at the GMDC is rarely available, and we were lucky enough to acquire ours through some friends who happened to be vacating. The layout was much different from what we have now.
In order to create the environment we wanted — which was an office with more opportunities for defined spaces, rooms, privacy— we needed to take down walls and build others. We involved our friend and architect, Dante Furioso, who helped steer our approach.
The office has evolved more than just spatially since the construction — we’ve welcomed a handful of awesome new employees, launched and fulfilled the Tetra Puzzle Kickstarter, and designed products we’ve always wanted to bring to life.
A nice space to work and collaborate is important, we told ourselves. But unfortunately you can’t 3D print an entire office. What you see here took time, thought, and lots of careful measuring.
One area that brings us all together in a new way is the designated conference table.
Instead of huddling around our Customer Support Specialist Hannah’s desk, and magnifying her computer screen to 200% for our monthly meeting, we now gather at a table, with the computer connected to a big television on wheels (which we conveniently removed from this lovely image).
Here we have our new sitting area, featuring a navy blue loveseat and coffee table from Lichen, our friends we collaborated with on the Cloud Planter (which also appears four or five times throughout the office).
Our cubicles are bright, beautiful, and designed specially for Craighill.
Each cubicle feels like its own workshop, accentuating each person’s talents, specialities, and tastes.
Even with the new division of space, inventory still overflows. We’ve embraced the boxes that stack up along the cubicles. Plants always help.
We knew we needed a showroom for business partner visits and video calls, or for the curious visitor passing by.
Nothing in our showroom corner gathers dust, as we are always holding and examining our products, whether for the purpose of answering a customer question or for our own personal enjoyment.
Where there is a 3D printer there will be many prototypes and musings, and this is abundant in our magical Design Studio (more commonly referred to as Hunter’s Office).
The studio is in many ways the nerve center of the business, and in it you can find a collection of models, material samples, historical references, and familiar objects waiting to be reimagined.
The inventory and fulfillment room is a special and highly organized place.
Industrial shelves tower with puzzles, keyrings, pens, and many other brass, steel, and cork objects. Here is the source of the stretching and tearing of tape, the stuffing of packing material, the import and export of inventory that echoes throughout the office.
Our workshop – a galley room which houses our laser cutter, vibratory tumblers, buffing wheels, overstock, and off-season fans for cooling or heating – has been the hardest to organize and imagine. Until our new Design Engineer Kevin stepped in and completely transformed the space in the span of three days. We truly don’t know how he did it.
The door we used to dare not open, now stays propped and we find ourselves desperate to walk into the room for no apparent reason at all. There is a window that overlooks the Pulaski Bridge, and for now, this is our excuse.
It feels right to be in a building rich with creativity and character. The creaky, wooden floors hold a history we can only speculate upon, and fixtures like the archaic elevator mechanism above our entryway pique our curiosity.
Making things at the GMDC connects us to a deeper sense of the built world. The proximity to the road work, the lifting drawbridge, delivery truck exhaust, boat horns, buzzing saws, and clattering wood means we are never out of raw material for ingenuity and wonder.
We’re grateful to be here, and thank you for your support along the way!
Words by Hannah Risinger & Zach Fried
Photos by Aaron Bengochea