The Office Everyone Wishes They Had

When we talk about great interior design, there’s no better firm to mention than Chicago’s Eastlake Studio. Our profile earlier this year made it clear that the Eastlake design team is at the cutting-edge of innovative interiors.

It’s why we’re featuring one of their projects in the marketing of #Vectorworks2021 — the project, an office expansion for the marketing automation company ActiveCampaign, stands to prove why Eastlake is such a mainstay in Chicago’s workplace industry.

Eastlake Studio has been deeply rooted in Chicago workspace design for more than 30 years,” said director Nicole Tabata, AIA. It’s their prominent position that brought them to ActiveCampaign to design their 2017 headquarters. The partnership was so successful that Eastlake was called back again for an expansion.

The New ActiveCampaign Headquarters

A key feature of the expansion is the grand stairwell — metaphorically a representation of ActiveCampaign’s growth over the last few years, the stairwell connects old to new with an artistic contrast of dark wood and black accents against clean white walls.

chicago interior design eastlake studio

“Our goal was to incorporate fun and memorable areas throughout the office, giving each area a unique quality to avoid the monotony of a large office,” Tabata said, mentioning the grand stair, the theater, and the coffee bar. “We worked closely with the ActiveCampaign team, providing several design themes for these spaces.”


The office was designed to be free of natural hierarchy to highlight ActiveCampaign’s employees-first culture. Eastlake reports that the ActiveCampaign CEO actually sits among the staff, and that omitting hierarchy through workspace placement was essential for the ActiveCampaign team.

“Most importantly, ActiveCampaign sought to reflect their fun and nerdy company culture through the office design,” Tabata said. This culture is in part demonstrated by the huddle rooms that ActiveCampaign staff named with science fiction and pop culture references.

Among other amenities, the office has its own theater room for presentations and after-hours movies. A variable bookshelf opens to a secret meeting area that “communicates a playful tone,” reads Eastlake’s project description.

chicago interior design eastlake studio

Designing in Vectorworks

Totaling 100,000 square feet, the sizable project benefited from the coordination that comes with designing in Vectorworks.

“For a project of this size, Project Sharing is a must,” Tabata said. “We often had several team members connected to one shared project file. While the file can become large, this process ensured that everyone had the most up-to-date information. Our engineering consultants were working in a 2D program, so files were exported and shared in DWG format.”

To work closely with the ActiveCampaign team, 3D modeling and visualization were critical for Eastlake. The firm shared lifelike models with the client to get everyone on the same page, then used these models as the basis for decision making with the client.

“During design iterations of the ActiveCampaign stair, we cut sections through the stair model to better understand views from one floor to the next,” Tabata said. “For our clients, being able to see a rendered view or walkthrough of a 3D model helps everyone understand the user experience and gets people excited about good design.”


Smart objects in Vectorworks helped Eastlake maintain data across design ideas and enabled a seamless, collaborative BIM workflow.

“Building information modeling was used for both architectural components and furnishings on this project,” Tabata said. “Modeling with smart objects allowed us to determine material quantities and information and to link this information to schedules for components such as doors, light fixtures, and furniture.”

What Does Creativity Mean to You?

Designing an innovative office certainly takes a creative eye. But creativity can mean a lot of different things. Here’s how Eastlake principal and interior designer Christina Brown defines it: 

“Creativity is about collaboration,” she said. “Everyone brings unique experiences and perspectives from their various walks of life. We also seek ideas from our clients. We want to build upon great ideas that can come from anywhere and anyone.”

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 *Images courtesy of Eastlake Studio and Hall + Merrick Photography.

Topics: Buildings


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