I first noticed the edgy, swanked-up rock-it promotions headquarters when senior director Kate Makinson posted a picture on Instagram of her and her dog @blondiethebullpig at the office. That wallpaper. The wooden masterpiece-of-a-table. The killer Jimmy Page art hanging on the wall behind her.
In my experiences of visiting PR offices, there’s typically a showroom, then a slew of tables altogether for employees to seamlessly work as one.
But Debra Goldblatt, president and founder of rock-it promotions, jumped on an opportunity to create a notable office that is the polar opposite of what a drab, typical workspace tends to be. In fact, it feels as if you’re in a trendy event space over a place where a gaggle of ladies are working to promote their impressive clientele.
“We were on the fourth floor but were outgrowing it quickly. We started looking all over the city but couldn’t find a space that was the right place,” says Goldblatt.
“Then our landlord called and said a space was coming available two floors up. We loved the idea of staying in this building and decided to take the space and gut it. It was a $250,000 renovation and it turned out beautiful.”
Rock-it promotions is an award-winning communications agency recognized as one of Canada’s leading boutique-lifestyle-based public relations firms. Clients include adidas, Club Med, Fiji Water, The JUNO Awards, Casper, Frank And Oak and many more.
On the design
To come up with the new concept for the space, Goldblatt wanted the team to be involved and offer a collective vision. She asked them to create a Pinterest board of what they hoped the office would look like, and this is what they came up with.
With that, she hired Ali Budd of Ali Budd Interiors to make their vision come to life and to be the true creative for the space’s ultimate look. Final choices were made by her and Makinson.
“Ali’s process is very clear and once she presented everything, we had very little changes. “She nailed it,” says Goldblatt.
“I can’t take any credit for Ali’s vision but I can say her style and aesthetic is so on point that it was easy to work with her,” says Makinson. “Everything she brought to us was so bang on. I just made basic decisions on finishes and colourways and she did the rest!”
So how did Budd come up with the look?
“Deb came to me truly wanting to give her staff a fresh and inspiring space to work in. After doing the initial space planning to make sure we incorporated everything the team needed, Deb really allowed us to take over the creative vision,” says Budd.
“We wanted the reception area to feel super chic — the 7-foot desk we did is one of my favourite pieces in the office. It’s interesting and cool and I don’t think will ever look dated,” says Budd. “I’m really into neon these days and loved the idea of incorporating it into the space somehow. The custom #werockit sign was a perfect decision and makes the reception pop.”
The showroom was another area Budd’s team focused on since it’s central to the space and showcases many of rock-it’s amazing clients.
“I love that you can close it off with the garage door or open it up into the office. It was really important to Debra to have a space for her staff to hang out — so the lounge area was born. I love that the office has this living room basically right in the middle of it — I think it makes the entire space feel warmer and more fun,” says Budd.
As for the ever-important CHIEF office?
“I really pushed for the wallpaper in Debra’s office. I wanted her to have something special that defined her space. Deb is the epitome of rock and roll and class — the badass art we used in there could only be pulled off by her. We are really thrilled with how the entire space came out — it’s super chic, functional and has just the perfect amount of edge.”
On bringing the space alive
The team does a monthly potluck as part of their social committee activities, with a different theme each month — a fun way for the team to break bread together.
“Rock-it has been a dog friendly office for years. Many alumni of the agency have brought their dogs to work and that continues through today,” says Makinson. “My dog (Blondie) and my co-director Marela’s dog (Chloebear) are in the office almost every single day (they’re legit workwives) but we also have regular visits from other staff members pups. All are welcome!”
Location: Richmond and Spadina, Toronto
Size: 3,840 sq. ft.
Designer: Ali Budd Interiors
Reno cost: $250,000
Noteworthy rock-it-isms: All offices are named. COVET is the showroom, CREATE is the boardroom, CONNECT is a meeting room, CHIEF is Goldblatt’s office, COOK is the eat-in kitchen, and CHILL is the sofa area.