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Where Open Office Meets the Open Road

The new digs of a millennial-luring auto insurer take cues from road trips, classic cars, and the Beatles.

SLIDESHOW

Geremia Design turned a photograph by Garret Suhrie into a 20-foot mural.

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Convex safety mirrors form a light-reflecting art installation in the cafeteria.

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A coworking space showcases a large-scale desert photograph by Paul Edmondson. Details like chrome floor lamps by EQ3 and oxblood leather armchairs suggest classic cars.

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The reception desk is backed by a track featuring interchangeable letters; the original configuration displayed the lyrics to “Drive My Car” by the Beatles. The Nenufar 3 pendant lamp above the desk is by Marset.

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Senior designer Becky Carter created the custom bench and sand-art installation. The checkered chairs are by Schoolhouse Electric.

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“I am not a ‘car person,’” admits Lauren Geremia. At the outset, an auto insurance company wouldn’t seem to be the typical client for a designer better known for her stylized environments in the offices of tech giants like Dropbox and Instagram. Then again, Metromile (unofficial slogan: “Not your father’s car insurance”) isn’t your usual auto insurer.

The company, which offers pay-per-mile car insurance measured through a custom driving app, enlisted Geremia Design to infuse its dark, 14,000-square-foot office near SFMOMA with some levity and personality. “They definitely didn’t want super-packaged design,” Geremia says.

Her firm embraced an aesthetic inspired by classic cars. “Obviously, it could have been cheesy, like bad hubcap art,” she says with a laugh. “But we went about it in a more subtle way.” To counter the space’s expanses of gray concrete, drab carpeting, and limited natural light, she commissioned 20-foot-long photo-murals of open roads. Chrome gleams from side tables and floor lamps, and chairs are upholstered in saddle and oxblood leather. Repurposed wood-bead seat covers serve as sound-abating wall art; vintage oil drums overflow with plants. Even the conference rooms are named for auto icons like Benz and Ford.

Cactus- and palm-dotted coworking areas evoke a desert vibe; one features a custom bench topped with a sand-art installation by senior designer Becky Carter. Nearby, a crowdsourced collage features photographs of Metromile employees and their family members posing beside their first rides. “We wanted to reference car rituals and memories,” says Geremia. “Experiences that might take you out of sitting in traffic.”

The auto-centric theme required Geremia to scout beyond her usual sources, seeking design elements in salvage shops. One of her finds—a collection of convex safety mirrors, more commonly used in garages and driveways—lines a cafeteria wall, reflecting light and brightening the windowless space. The sense of playfulness carries through to the reception area, where the desk is backed by a transparent track filled with interchangeable letters (the original configuration displayed the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Drive My Car”). “We wanted to give the experience of driving a little weight and affection,” says Geremia. “It’s design that evokes an epic road trip.”

 

Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco.

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