An office with an address

March 10, 2017
Austin Baum

From a dark, dusty corner of a warehouse with no address and no heat…

In the spring of 2014 we began working together out of a sub-leased warehouse in central Tucson.

Stephen and I had met a couple of months before, on the day Connect Coworking opened their doors. As we talked while unboxing and assembling new chairs, our ambitions and perspectives began to align. We started working together almost immediately to help the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society rebrand and rethink their approach to telling their story. Our desire to use design to impact our community was solidified.

We knew that we wanted to work together more officially, but we also recognized we needed more space. I had previously started using a corner of a warehouse that my father was leasing as a small private shared office with some other friends. It was the perfect raw space for storing Stephen’s photography gear and hosting small photo shoots, so he moved in. Next he introduced me to Robert who had recently taken the leap to freelance design consulting. They knew each other from working together on projects at Ventana Medical Systems. Robert was a natural fit to work with us, and we were lucky to have him. His experience and design chops eclipsed ours. He moved into the warehouse too.

Still an unofficial entity, we begin pursuing larger projects. We won a few, but it became increasingly difficult to convey our value proposition as a team. So we decided to make it real. Robert and Stephen invited another friend who was just finishing up his time for a large corporation in town, Alan. We began to get together regularly at the warehouse, aligning our visions for what we desired as the ideal design studio. We regularly discussed the value of our team and how to leverage it, drawing lots of discussion framing from the wonderful book, Good to Great. After months of talking about what we wanted our new company to look like, it came time to build it.

In August of 2014 we officially incorporated OpenForm LLC in the state of Arizona. We were legit, legally. We spent the next couple of months putting together our visual identity, collateral, website, and crafting a launch email. In this time the warehouse space went from hot to cold as the winter began to creep in. We began wearing jackets all day, and after our official launch email went out and the months got colder, we wore gloves too. I had to get the ones without the finger tips so I could type. Frequently I’d hold them up to the small space heater by my desk/tablet/whatever piece of furniture I was using at the time. We were in business. It was awesome. We made mistakes. We got over them. Our space kept evolving with time, looking more and more official to the point where we started inviting clients for meetings at our place. But, it was still a dark, dusty warehouse, and we were growing out of it.

Last spring, 6 months after our official launch, we found and leased a new space. It took us months of looking at offices and warehouses in various states of repair. We finally settled on one that was nice and clean, easy to move into, conveniently located, albeit a bit small. It’s a wonderful, bright office building built by acclaimed local architect Josias Joesler. There are a number of features in our new place which many would take for granted, but we were truly excited about, like an address. We also have a small kitchenette space for our coffee and whiskey. We have AC and heat too. So far the AC is working, we’ll see how the heat works when the time comes.

Since moving in we’ve been making it ours. We’ve had some really wonderful furniture made from reclaimed bowling alley, crafted by local artisan, Sean Hunter. We’ve painted, bought artwork, and continue to make it feel like home.

The square footage is quickly becoming small already. We’re doing our best to squeeze a few extra people in as we grow our team, but we know our time here is limited. We’re enjoying it in the meantime. It’s a real studio. We have heat. It’s clean. There is an address.

We welcome you all to come visit.

622 N. Country Club Road, Suite D
Tucson, AZ 85716

Photo tour

Old Warehouse

OpenForm Old Warehouse Pano

New Office

OpenForm Office Welcome


Old Warehouse inside / outside

OpenForm Old Warehouse

OpenForm Old Warehouse

OpenForm Old Warehouse


The New Office – culture / space

Desert Façade-1 Desert Façade-2 Desert Façade-3 Desert Façade-1-2Desert Façade-5coffeeDesert Façade-10

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