Homepolish has exploded in popularity over the last few years with their unique online services that make the design process a whole lot less scary by giving you access to interior designers around the world. You can book a single consult with them or work with them on an hourly basis to complete your renovation project, and anything in between. The brilliant minds behind Homepolish are Noa Santos and Will Nathan, who happen to work in a beautifully styled, open plan space in New York City. In this month’s Where I Work, we speak with them about their space and how they get it all done.
What is your typical work style?
Will: I prefer a consistent schedule that breaks apart the day into blocks of work/meetings and themes for each day of the week (ex., internal meetings with team leads Monday, external meetings with partners and other entrepreneurs on Friday). For contracts and coding, I like to work at home, but for everything else I head to the office where I can feed off the energy of the team and easily coordinate meetings.
Noa: I love working at night when the city falls asleep. Most days my hours are pretty regular but when I need to think big picture, I take a long shower, make tea, and stay up.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
Will: My office working environment is a clean table with my laptop, and I sit side-by-side with our product and corporate ops team. We’re printerless at Homepolish, so there’s not much clutter or need for pens, paper clips, rubber bands, etc. At home, my desk is more conducive to creativity with objects that inspire me (I’m also fortunate to have a skylight in my apartment, which brings in natural light).
Noa: I’m the office vagabond. I have a desk space but usually give it up to new employees as we grow. I like changing where I sit because I get to chat with someone new. Turns out we hire pretty smart and interesting people.
How is your office organized/arranged?
Will: We have an open floor plan with a mishmash of repurposed, white-washed dining tables and three mini-houses where people can take meetings or get away to concentrate. There are also two living rooms and a kitchen for a different working atmosphere.
Noa: I like a good door but there aren’t any in the Homepolish office. We need to remain flexible to accommodate for growth and doors don’t fit the bill – so we get creative. For example, rather than conference rooms, we erected 3 prefab greenhouses in the office where up to 4 people can chat privately. The Homepolish office is a bit of a lab – we test out ideas before using them in our clients’ office spaces. We put our money where our mouth is so to speak.
How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?
Will: We’ve been in the Flatiron space for about a year, prior to that we were at a much smaller space across from the Ace Hotel.
Noa: We moved 8 blocks down the lane a year ago. Flatiron feels like home.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
Will: I’m pretty happy with it, no complaints. Great job, Noa.
Noa: If I could choose a magic power, it would be to make NYC real estate appear. Then I’d make our office bigger.
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
Will: Our office doesn’t have music in the background, but headphones abound. I listen to music during certain types of work – these days there’s a good amount of Digitalism, Miami Horror, Star Slinger, Parov Stelar, and Tesla Boy on my playlist, which are great for coding.
Noa: I listened to this band called City of the Sun play at a friend’s dinner recently and I’m mildly obsessed. I play their music when I need to work like I’m on drugs without actually taking drugs.
How do you record ideas?
Noa: My Android stylus let’s me take all kinds of crazy notes. And the page never ends! Such a dream.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
Will: I use Pinterest to keep track of all my inspiration from fashion to photography. I’ve also been dreaming of a place out in the woods one day, and this board keeps me going:
Noa: My instagram @Noa_Santos.
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
Will: My creativity at work is largely focused on strategy, processes, code, and workflows. I like to write out an end-goal, then tell my mind to figure it out and think about something else. Typically in 3-5 days I’ll have the urge to think about the problem again (seemingly out of nowhere), and I’ll then sit down and write down everything that comes to mind. Often it’s free-form, and I know to let it all come out without structure, then go back later and make sense of it. The philosopher Bertrand Russell describes a similar strategy in his book on happiness.
Noa: My creative process always involves other people. I identify a goal and then meet with everyone I know that might have valuable insight. The process is usually the same but the outcome is always different and exciting.
What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?
Noa: Furniture of course! If it doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t own it.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
Will: Nope, just my computer.
Noa: Chop saw, power drill, you name it. I lie, I’m way too delicate for machinery.
What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Will: Just me and my computer :)
Noa: #2 pencil.
Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.
Will: MacBook Air (13-inch), 1.7 GHz i7, 8 GB RAM (storage doesn’t matter when most of my life is on Google Drive). I’m also an Android smartphone user because of the Google integrations and a hope that one day I’ll have enough time to hack a few apps together.
Noa: I have this wonderful piece of technology called a Scott. He runs on coffee and donuts and is a bit buggy at times but he runs my life like a well-oiled machine.
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
Will: I use Photoshop Lightroom for my non-work photos, and for work I use InVision to manage the design process along with Adobe’s Creative Suite to share and code files from Kristen Cesiro, our Art Director. On the coding side, we’re a Ruby on Rails, Angular, SaaS, Heroku shop.
Noa: Google Sketchup for client floorplans.
Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?
Noa: Although I wouldn’t call the people at Homepolish “projects” because that sounds mean even though some of them are definitely projects, I would say I’m most proud of the culture we’ve all worked to create. When I hear about the ladies and gents of Homepolish hanging out on weekends or going to happy hours together, it makes me feel like a proud father… or mother, whichever is more believable.
Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?
Will: Feeling like you’ve ‘made it’ implies that there’s nothing more to make. This is farthest from the truth for me, and I hope it stays that way. I’m very happy that we’ve grown and helped prove to thousands of people that interior design can make their lives better, but our work has just begun.
Noa: I don’t think anyone worth meeting ever feels like they’ve really made it. I’ll die thinking there’s more to be done but I’m okay with that.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
Will: I’ve been working hard with our team to help clients and designers easily order furnishings. Our inspiration came from the frustration and time wasted ordering (i.e., typing your credit card and address in over-and-over again for each vendor) along with the potential to leverage Homepolish’s scale to create a better experience for discovering and purchasing the best items for your home/office at the best price.
Noa: Relationships are what Homepolish is made of and relationships are a difficult thing to scale. The partnerships between our brand, our designers and our clients are built on trust and respect and they’re not easily expedited. One of the most exciting challenges I’m working on is helping the Services team scale. From 1 designer 3 years ago to over 500 now, we’re scaling the unscalable and preserving Homepolish’s integrity while we do it.
What’s on your desk right now?
Will: I’m at the office, so just my computer (kind of boring, sorry!)
Noa: A laptop and probably some half-eaten muffin that Lisa has pushed aside. Our Director of Marketing loves baked goods… it’s a problem.
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
Will: I’ve made a few paintings that are scattered around my apartment. About a month ago I had fun touching up an old photo of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata and printing it onto metal to resemble a daguerreotype.
Noa: The painting above my sofa is mine and while I didn’t personally create it, the taxidermy head on my wall is from my home in Hawaii. My grandpa “created” that one if you know what I mean.