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Muse: building a community

Muse Community + Design is a fellow woman-owned local company who offers inventive and inspiring solutions to help communities manage change. Recently they moved to a new office in Wicker Park, tapping Kuchar in the process to help bring their space to life.

We were very inspired by the mission of the company and really wanted to create a space that reflected their ethos - and also their new branding! They had recently rebranded, bringing a fun and bright visual identity to the table during the design process that was very stimulating to work with. Their punchy brand orange can be seen throughout the office on doors and task chairs, and we interpreted their free-flowing, organic branding with the use of soft shapes and curved throughout the space.

Inspired by Muse's people-oriented approach to the urban environment, we set out to design a space that works for their people in their daily environment. Workstations are oriented in "neighborhoods", giving the space a more dynamic feel. The carpet throughout the workspace has a textural and dimensional pattern that feels reminiscent of the patchwork landscape of an aerial view, and perfect for this company's planning-oriented work! Acoustic panels hang above, taking the same perimeter shape as the carpet below. Because their office is so open - and their work so detail-oriented - it was very important to provide an acoustic solution to help keep noise levels down and provide a functional work environment. Suspending them from the ceiling just a few inches not only keeps the ceiling feeling high, but also helps to better trap sound so employees can get their work done.

Just beyond the workspace is the kitchen. We worked with the partially existing cabinets, adding more storage and selecting finishes to complement their soft blue-gray finish. A full suite of new appliances - including a full-size stove - provides employees with the tools they need to make fresh meals for lunch. New woven pendants and comfortable stools add a softness to the dining counter.

Throughout the space we kept the existing narrow plank floors, not only to streamline costs but also as a reminder of the 120+ years of history within this building's walls, nestled into the vibrant Wicker Park community. Steel columns were also left exposed, simply receiving a fresh coat of paint.

Muse takes employee wellness seriously, and we kept this in mind while setting the vibes throughout their office. Just off the kitchen is a small wellness room for staff to recharge and get a quiet moment alone. Soft peachy-beige was applied to all walls, including the exposed brick, for a homey feeling, while a sconce is positioned perfectly for accent light while relaxing in the lounge chair provided by the client. Neutral carpet with a textural pattern adds to the soft feeling overall.

We also fit several meeting rooms into their office, with varied layouts to accommodate virtual or in-person, solo or group work. Each door received a fresh coat of paint in the brand's new vibrant orange, adding a fun an unexpected element to the space.

Bold accent walls add energy to the space and complement the doors nicely, while neutral carpet in an energetic pattern adds a sense of fun to the rooms. Employees now have space to either spread out with a team or have a quiet zone with a nice background for a virtual call.

Kuchar is happy to have helped provide Muse with creating an open and welcoming office environment that nurtures the important work they do for our communities. Their ethos is reflected through design throughout the space to immerse employees and guests into who Muse is as a company.

Design: Kuchar

Photography: Shelby Thompson


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