The Rhythm of Great Design: An Interview with Spotify Designer Cecilia Vigil

  • 3 min read
Working with a cool brand like Spotify, the music streaming service, is a designer’s dream. But the cooler the brand is, the greater the challenge will be to create a workplace that lives up to that reputation. And with Spotify, designer Cecilia Vigil faces – and lives up to – that challenge times 15, as there are 15 Spotify offices around the world. We love her fresh, colorful office interiors that are sure to inspire and invigorate their teams. In our interview with Cecilia, she explains that her approach is people-centric and that she strives to understand the culture of each location before she begins to design. She also gave us some terrific tips on how to make your office jive even if your brand is more traditional.

1. With 15 locations worldwide, you face the challenge of making each office brandable as Spotify but still unique. How have you respected -- and been inspired by -- the local culture of each office and incorporated that into the design? 

Truth be told, a lot of it is intuition and gut feeling. You meet the people working in the office, spend some time in their surroundings and pick up the vibe. The uniqueness is all about the people working there and their culture. Incorporating the geographical location is less important but can still be useful if done in moderation. Overdoing it becomes too obvious. Then I add a piece of myself to the mix. Borrowing inspiration and some themes from other offices brings a bit of a Spotify feel, as does of course our logo and the Spotify brand colors. With each office we do, we learn something about what works and what doesn't. That allows us to spread and reuse the good parts, such as styles of furniture and areas that employees really enjoy.

2. We know it’s hard to choose, but which Spotify office is your favorite?

I like them all equally.

3. We love that you find inspiration and ideas everywhere, like those 50 vintage keyholes that were so beautiful you just had to have them. Where do you think you’ll put them? What are some of your other great finds? Where do source these decor elements? 

In most projects there will be one room or area of which I become especially fond and give a little bit of extra attention. The vintage keyholes, which I found in a secondhand store in Manhattan a few months ago, will go in such an area. When I saw them, I didn't really know where I wanted them, just that I wanted them somewhere. Finding stuff like this is pretty easy if you keep your eyes open, but can be really hard if you're actively looking. I try to browse secondhand and thrift stores whenever I can. I'm also always on the lookout for cool projects by students at design and furniture fairs.

4. You’re so lucky that you get to design for such a fun brand! What advice do you have for someone who is designing an office for a less glamorous industry but still wants it to have some personality?

The key thing for me is to focus on the people that will make use of the space. Doing so allows you to put your heart and soul into the project, and that reflects on the final results. Even if a particular company seems dull, there is always a lot of character to be found among its employees.

5. What are some of the less “sexy” design issues you’ve faced with Spotify?

Trenching and cabling!

6. What are your tips for creating a cool office – whether it’s a home office, a small business or a bigger company?

The requirements for a small home office are, in my opinion, completely different from that of a large "real" office. At home, you'll probably benefit from a neutral environment that's free from distraction; you're only a few meters away from your living room anyway. With a "real" office, it becomes much more important to make the space feel personal and interesting. You want all the employees to appreciate the space and feel that it belongs to them.

My advice is to keep an open mind and explore what others have done and are doing. If you're designing your home office, then ask around and see if you know someone who has done the same. If you're doing an office at a larger company, then reach out to office management at similar companies and ask if you can visit them.


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