In the series I Spy, we highlight unique perspectives, designs, furniture, architecture, and people. When so much of the design world can feel monotonous, we search for and share moments that make you look and think twice. Think of I Spy as your one-stop-shop for everything bold, different, and beautiful.
Over the past few years, we have been #blessed to be a furniture partner for some amazing spaces. Some standouts include Design, Bitches’ Little Octopus, Square Feet Design’s Recess, and the award-winning Coffee for Sasquatch. But when we came across Foyer Beauty Shoppe—the gorgeous cafe and coworking space—we knew this too was something special. So, I was elated when Beauty Shoppe’s director of design Morgan Stewart agreed to chat about the space and their unique hospitality-coworking concept.
AR: Tell me about Beauty Shoppe and your role at the Beauty Shoppe.
MS: At Beauty Shoppe, we take historic buildings and renovate them into hospitality-driven coworking spaces. We have six locations across the US and are growing. I oversee all the designs at each location. We’re a small design team, so rely on our manufacturers during the procurement process.
AR: How did Beauty Shoppe come about?
MS: About six years ago, the founders of Beauty Shoppe were looking for an office space in Pittsburgh. They weren’t happy with the available options, so they decided to create their own coworking space. They rented out a former beauty shoppe in Pittsburgh. It had the words “Beauty Shoppe” on the building’s exterior, so they decided to keep the name.
AR: Beauty Shoppe has been described as a “hospitality driven coworking space,” which sounds like a dream! Why the hospitality direction?
MS: Beauty Shoppe feels very unique to the coworking space. We didn’t want it to be an exclusive club. As of the end of this year, we will have three coffee shops in or connected to our spaces. Moving forward, we hope to incorporate some sort of public experience in all of our spaces. We feel very confident that it complements our other goals.
We wanted to avoid dropping a coworking space in the middle of a neighborhood, but let it become a part of that neighborhood. And, most of the Beauty Shoppe staff have a hospitality or food service background, so it’s a natural extension of our experiences and backgrounds.
AR: Each Beauty Shoppe location seems to be a multipurpose space. With Foyer, the space quadruples as a coffee shop, lounge, event, and a coworking space. To a lay person, like myself, that sounds incredibly challenging to design! How do you blend so many functional elements together so seamlessly?
MS: We are very thoughtful about use. Each Beauty Shoppe location is different. Not all Beauty Shoppe locations are event spaces, but we design for flexibility. For instance, the project we are working on right now has this amazing atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows. We know it can and should be used for an event space, so we’ve designed the coworking space to be easily rearranged or pushed aside to accommodate events.
Another important element for coworking spaces is to make sure the assumed things— outlets, plugs, wires, cords—are well-integrated in the design. We want them to be invisible, which allows guest to be more comfortable working in the space.
AR: Does each Beauty Shoppe location have different design schemes?
MS: Yes. Most of the design schemes are derived from the original building that was there before.
AR: Your color palettes are GORGEOUS! I want to use the one in Foyer for my bedroom. Where do you find inspiration?
MS: We start with the building and go from there. For Foyer, the original building was a German beer hall. So we took German influences and kept peeling back. We finally settled on Bavaria, specifically Bavarian quilts, for the rose colors you see on the couch and millwork. We also used Maple, a tree native to that region, to communicate that feeling.
AR: So, it’s not a literal interpretation, but rather, taking nuances of the buildings history?
MS: Yes, exactly.
AR: Finally, are there any design trends you would like to see fade out?
MS: Right now, all-white-everything. Don’t get me wrong, all white can be classic, but it’s just the just a lack of intentionality that can make a space feel dull.