Founded by Kirsten Gauthier, Lindsay Durney, and Caila Stangl, Public office is a multidisciplinary creative production company that began in 2009 as a small print studio, later evolving to encompass all major aspects of brand strategy and marketing design. The Toronto-based agency specializes in a multitude of services, masterfully utilizing its collective expertise in innovative ways for each individual project. In addition, the female-owned company offers in-house studio rentals in the heart of Toronto’s west end, as well as a curated catalogue of furniture and unique objects. With an impressive resume featuring clients such as Hudson’s Bay, Starbucks Canada, Sonos and Everist, Public office has demonstrated its tenacious ability to market brand identity. We caught up with the founders to discuss their creative process, brand strategy, and outlook on the future of the industry.
What made you join forces to open PUBLIC OFFICE?
“Collectively, I think all three of us were at a point in our lives where we wanted to do something with greater impact. We all had complementary disciplines and each of us knew that the industry was in need of a change. We identified the need for strategic, thorough problem solving and creative execution solutions that were no-fuss and delivered impact to bolster and accelerate the growth of our clients.
At Public office, our individual strengths and talents come together with a common goal to deliver value, quality and forward-thinking ideas. We combine strategy with creativity and precise execution in a seamless experience for our clients.”
How has PUBLIC OFFICE evolved from being a small creative and production studio to now include a large production rental business, PUBLIC PROPERTY?
“Public property is a premium suite of spaces and props for hire in Toronto. It came out of an observation of, and also a love for, spaces, interior design and objects. We saw an opportunity to support the growing need for businesses to build leading and compelling content. It reflects our love for beautiful imagery and curating stunning furniture and objects, while supporting our local and global creative community. It allows our clients the opportunity to produce high quality, quick-turn content that is accessible.”
With the addition of the Sterling studio to PUBLIC PROPERTY, how does it feel to expand?
“It feels right. It’s all natural, our spaces are all changing, and with online dominating it seems right to make content creation more accessible and affordable. We are design-focused with a heart on community. The studios allow us to come into contact with all sorts of creators and businesses that feed us all creatively in the end. We’ve been blessed to watch our business grow even during a global pandemic. This pandemic also gave us an opportunity to really focus and take our time on the interior of the space.
Our spaces are unique and really complement each other. Our Shaw space is an open creative studio with a huge selection of tabletop props and equipment, and our Sterling studio is expertly stylized with lots of earthly textures and captivating furniture pieces.”
When designing your new Sterling Studio and office—which doubles as an event space and creative studio—what did you have on your inspiration board?
“Starting with a blank canvas is always exciting, even a bit intimidating. When we signed the lease it was a big square box with massive 30 foot ceilings, so we built the studio in pieces. We started with the kitchen, which we envisioned to be minimal yet warm. The design was inspired by California mid-century homes, particularly Pasadena where the real estate is impressive. We centred on light wood and then mixed in other textures like warm terracotta, hand-fired clay, moss green velvet, cane weave, and the Herman Miller bubbles that rest nicely above the kitchen island. It all comes together to inform a sense of warmth and California chic.
After the kitchen was complete, we did the designs for the rest of the space and the mixed-purpose mezzanine and meeting room. We were hugely inspired by Kelly Wearstler’s work for the Proper Hotel in Santa Monica. The mix of open space, tall ceilings, high-design furniture, tones and textures was instrumental in how we designed the rest of the space. Mirroring the atmosphere of the kitchen, we brought in the addition of fluted glass and a gorgeous curved wall applied in the traditional art of tadelakt—it gives the paint a glossy plaster effect and is quite stunning. The entire space is accented by a mix of unique furniture pieces including the Cassina by Tobia Scarpa—our pride and joy—that we copped on Kijiji, as well as our Marcel Breuer Wassily chairs. Browns, creams, neutrals, and hits of green are combined in the space to give it a feeling of low-key elegance.
We have a deep appreciation for time-honoured pieces and thoughtful materials. There’s a sense of craft and longevity when you know a fabricator has put great care into something from the inception of design to creation. Ultimately, the goal was to inject style into the space, all the while leaving moments of blank canvas for others’ imaginations to go wild and really utilize the space in any way they dream of.”
Founders Caila Stangl, Lindsay Durney, and Kirsten Gauthier.
PUBLIC PROPERTY also offers a catalogue of objects and furniture for hire. What factors go into curating and creating these objects?
“Being immersed in art and culture, we’re constantly on the hunt for furniture and objects that represent an artistic value. Quality and aesthetics are important, but so is longevity. We seek items that have a history and a story to tell unto themselves.”
What do you think is the most important part of developing a successful brand strategy?
“The key to building a successful brand strategy is taking the time to do the research and to immerse yourself in the humanity of what moves people to make decisions on the brands they love. Consumers are completely changing the way brands have to adapt to fulfill their behaviour and desires. The power is in the control of the customers’ hands more than ever, and they demand a lot from companies—as they should. Whether it’s B Corporation certification, CRM, corporate responsibility, environmental impact, or customer relationships, brand strategy needs to touch on an intricate ecosystem of approaches that support the customer from beginning to end, even when they aren’t interacting with the brand. This is at the core of a successful brand strategy, understanding that it’s not one-note, and if you don’t look at a brand from an aerial view and all of its components, their success will be compromised and the messaging will fall flat.”
What does the future of PUBLIC OFFICE look like, and what is on the horizon for PUBLIC PROPERTY?
“It looks bright. We have a solid team and incredible partners who have contributed to the growth and success of what Public office is today. Since the beginning we’ve stuck to our mantra of good work and good people and that will remain uncompromised. With the launch of Public property, we plan to continue.”