Clearly Defined Work and Chill Out Space Key to Harmony at Breather

Designers took notes from Breather’s stylish small spaces and applied them to their new Montreal HQ.

The entrance and reception desk at the new Breather HQ in Montreal. Photo by Mary Elam.

We first met Breather in a profile that we ran about their small workspaces, scattered in cities across North America, that can be booked by the hour, and are designed to delight, inspire, and help you to chill out. Now, Breather has taken that same approach and applied it to their new HQ where, in addition to traditional workspaces, they’ve deployed Breather-like spaces within the office where employees can restore themselves with peace, quiet, and the quirky, thoughtful touches that are hallmarks of Breathers. We sent our project Q&A to Caterina Rizzi, Breather’s co-founder, to find out more.

The light-infused, open-concept office provides cozy breakout areas for meetings, brainstorming sessions and more. Photo by Mary Elam.

The light-infused, open-concept office provides cozy breakout areas for meetings, brainstorming sessions, and more. Photo by Mary Elam.

What is the address of the project?

5605 De Gaspé, Montreal, Qc

Who was the interior architect/designer?

Maria Di Ioia and Leigh Morton (a Breather designer).

When was the project completed?

November 7, 2014

What is the total square footage?

6000 sq ft

The glass enclosed “mini-breathers” are perfect for one-on-one meetings. Photo by Mary Elam.

The glass enclosed “mini-breathers” are perfect for one-on-one meetings. Photo by Mary Elam.

What is the square footage per person?

187 sq ft

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

Thirty or so, and remote employees from the U.S. who are in sporadically throughout each month.

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

Located in beautiful Mile-End, right off St-Viateur street. Very close to bus and metro routes, and tons of bars and restos in one of Montreal’s coolest neighborhoods.

The large conference room, lightheartedly referred to as the “fishbowl” by the Breather team, doubles as a ping pong room. Photo by Mary Elam.

The large conference room, lightheartedly referred to as the “fishbowl” by the Breather team, doubles as a ping pong room. Photo by Mary Elam.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used?

A mix of vintage pieces, re-purposed objects, and custom pieces made by Atelier Assembly.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day every day?

Breather has an open work policy where team members are free to work from wherever and whenever they want so long as they complete their work by the deadline and they respect meetings. Most people come to work each day and choose to work from home or from a Breather space a few days a month.

The comfortable lounge area is the perfect space for the team to catch up during weekly meetings. Photo by Mary Elam.

The comfortable lounge area is the perfect space for the team to catch up during weekly meetings. Photo by Mary Elam.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

We designed the space to still be able to fit more team members so there is still room to grow.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

The HQ is essentially a very large Breather space: beautiful, aspirational, quirky, kick-your-feet-up chill.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

Probably our massive lounge with a 25 foot long couch and mountain mural on the wall. Perfect for team meetings and maxin’ and relaxin’

An elevated lounge area overlooks the Montreal skyline. Photo by Mary Elam.

An elevated lounge area overlooks the Montreal skyline. Photo by Mary Elam.

What was the hardest aspect of change for people in moving from the former space?

I don’t think there was anything hard about it—our former office was small and cramped and white walls! They were moving their stuff while construction was still wrapping up.

When visiting Breather, guests feel right at home in the welcoming reception area. Photo by Mary Elam.

When visiting Breather, guests feel right at home in the welcoming reception area. Photo by Mary Elam.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

The HQ’s design stems from a deliberate desire to have the central office closely mirror the product we put out into the world. In our case, mirroring the product means the HQ:

  • Has clearly a Scandinavian/modern vibe and defined “work” and “chill out” areas.
  • Gives employees the opportunity to collaborate in workspaces or find total privacy and quiet in Breather spaces within the office.
  • Has lots of natural light and the carefully curated touches such as magazines and books that its individual spaces have.
  • When we designed the HQ, my team even built in an “ode” to the company’s first Breather space by recreating it as one of the office’s conference rooms (even the furniture pieces are the same).
  • The team also designed an actual Breather—for clients and employees—to use next door.

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