Austin Business Journal : After surpassing $200M in revenue, furniture designer makes over its own HQ

Like the rest of the Texas capital, Austin-based Four Hands LLC — a designer of modern home furniture for retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel — is experiencing a massive amount of growth and a lot more out-of-town visitors.

After nearly 17 years in its current South Austin headquarters, Four Hands had far outgrown its space. That building also hadn’t been fully renovated in as many years.

That was unacceptable for a leading, global design and home furnishings company, Four Hands CEO Matthew Briggs said.

Four Hands’ headquarters at 2090 Woodward St. off Ben White Boulevard, which Briggs described as a concrete box, needed to be expanded to accommodate the company’s growing headcount. It also needed a “wow factor” to match the company’s global, trendsetting brand, he said.

“We want people to walk in there and go ‘Holy smokes this looks like the world headquarters of a very up-to-date design-led company,’” Briggs said. “You also want people to look at it and go, this is a place I want to work in.”

Plus, Four Hands had completely run out of room, he said. The office did not have enough meeting rooms and did not have a communal area where all 130 HQ employees could gather.

Founded in Austin in 1996, Four Hands also has offices in China, India, Vietnam, Mexico and Indonesia and showrooms in Austin, Las Vegas and High Point, North Carolina. Globally, the company has 415 full-time employees with 330 working in Austin.

Four Hands doubled its revenue and its employee count between 2014 and 2019, Briggs said. The company finished 2019 with more than $200 million in revenue. This year it plans to add 60 employees in the U.S. across all departments.

Four Hands selected renowned Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to craft a modern headquarters that could act as both office and showplace.

Hsu was the perfect match, Briggs said. The architect is known for his Texas-infused modern design, working on projects from elegant residences to the South Congress Hotel.

Construction began in November on the 35,100-square-foot headquarters — nearly doubling the amount of existing office space. Four Hands’ showroom is being expanded from 13,000 to 14,000 square feet. The work is slated to be completed this summer. Sabre Commercial Inc. is the general contractor.

The Four Hands outlet store, located on Anderson Lane in North Austin, isn’t being renovated.

Four Hands is expanding by building out existing warehouse space at the Woodward Street headquarters. Briggs said the building is just over 100,000 square feet.

Why not move?

Expanding and renovating the headquarters and showroom — nestled between Ben White Boulevard and I-35 — rather than relocating made sense for Four Hands since Briggs and other partners own the building, Briggs said. Check out the image below of what the HQ currently looks like.

“When you run the numbers, anyway you run them, if we are going to stay in this building another 15 years, the cost of the renovation is hands down cheaper than starting from scratch and trying to find another location and build,” he said.

Plus, its location is easily accessible for employees and close to the airport, Briggs said.

“We travel a lot and we have a lot of visitors so being 10 minutes from the airport is fantastic,” he said.

Also, it allows Four Hands to stay close to its more than 300,000 square feet of warehouse space, which is less than a mile away, Briggs said.

Staging the construction, though, was important so Four Hands would face minimal disruption during the process. Some employees have moved temporarily to office space at Four Hands’ nearby warehouse, and trailers were set up in the parking lot for additional work and storage space.

Preparations for the expansion took about a year with each department determining their space needs for the next five years, Briggs said. And, since Four Hands is a design business, employees also played key roles in designing the space, including custom furnishings.

The redesign is centered around making the office building “more attractive and sexier” and more hospitable to employees by opening up the space and adding floor-to-ceiling windows and large skylights over a live tree in the central common area, he said.

Importantly, it will show off Four Hands’ designs.

“​The design for Four Hands’ new space is nostalgic and refined,” ​Hsu, founder and principal of Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, said in a statement. ​“It is directly inspired by the Four Hands’ brand, culture and products. We incorporated a lot of natural light to create a comfortable environment for staff and to showcase the Four Hands furnishings.”

The headquarters will feature two spaces that mimic houses to showcase the company’s furniture and also provide more room for meetings, according to Four Hands. It will also have an expanded 2,700-square-foot photo studio to create original photos and videos for promotional purposes.

Other updated amenities include six new meetings rooms and five phone rooms, each equipped with state-of-the art communications technology and conferencing tools; breakout areas and community spaces for special events; indoor kitchen with fully stocked bar and cold brew coffee on tap; outdoor kitchen and patio; fitness center and wellness room for nursing mothers.

Originally posted on Austin Business Journal