Although many people know FuckJerry simply as an Instagram account, it’s actually a full-service digital marketing agency with 25 employees, which produces adult party games and recently launched a tequila brand.
“People are always surprised when they hear FuckJerry has an office,” says founder Elliot Tebele. “They say, ‘I always thought FuckJerry was this kid in his basement.’”
But since the much-loved meme account launched seven years ago, FuckJerry has grown to be more than just an Instagram handle with 13.7 million followers. Tebele and childhood friend Eli Ballas saw an opportunity to utilize the account’s following beyond internet jokes, and in 2014, Mick Purzycki and James Ryan came on board. A full-service digital marketing agency was born, with a focus on social media content and strategy.
Two years later, Tebele, Ballas, and friend Ben Kaplan launched What Do You Meme?, an adult party games brand Tebele describes as a “next-generation Hasbro.” This summer, Tebele launched yet another brand: Jaja tequila. And as the company expanded, a space was needed to accommodate its rapidly growing team.
“We wanted a lofty vibe, with different meeting areas. We needed it to be welcoming and fun, but not overdone,” Tebele says. “A cozy space where people can take their laptop and sit wherever they want, escape if they want to escape, and get their work done.”
Elliot Tebele in the new FuckJerry offices.
Tebele and his team found what they were looking for in a classic industrial building on Broadway in Soho, built in 1900. The 6,500-square-foot space is mostly open-plan save for a few conference rooms, with arched ceilings, classic brick walls, and cast-iron columns. Once they secured the space, they just needed a designer to tell them what to do with it – that’s where I came in.
When I was first approached to design the offices, the team had a few vague ideas floating around – for instance, Tebele wanted a kind of apartment-meets-library feeling. To achieve this, we used bookshelves to define a number of areas in the space. There are lower shelves near the windows, since we needed to allow as much natural light in as possible. Here’s a warning for people who want bookshelves everywhere: You have to buy books and objects to fill them, which can cost as much as furniture.
These days, bleachers are ubiquitous in start-up spaces. But in this case, we created them with the legit purpose of an audience watching a performance. This is because the guys sometimes have performers come by the office, so they needed a place for intimate shows. The curves in the bleachers lend an amphitheater feeling and complement the ceiling arches and subtle curves of the shelving. The Keith Haring prints are Tebele’s own.
Tebele told me that he liked the “idea of having a bar because we plan on having events and gatherings here” and “we just launched a tequila and everyone that comes in can see it.” Here’s a fun fact: FuckJerry adopted the dixie cup Jazz wave as its signature, so it had to be included somewhere in the office. (The Jazz wave was designed by a woman named Gina Ekiss, who won a contest when she worked at the Sweetheart Cup Company in 1989. She didn’t even get a bonus!)
Tebele is a huge basketball fan and really wanted a hoop in the office. The ball is lightweight and only about the size of a grapefruit, so it’s less likely to smash things up. We included a number of bistro tables and chairs so employees can leave their desks and have a designated place to chat and eat.
We initially had smaller chairs in here, but they were so small we knew someone like Dennis Rodman – who has visited the office – would never fit, so we got bigger ones. I wanted a really thick table with curved ends, and this custom design by Andrew Hamm turned out exactly as I imagined.
The mural was Tebele’s idea. We knew we wanted something kind of New York and cool but not “contrived graffiti.” It was painted by Annica Lyndenberg, a.k.a @DirtyBandits. She sent a bunch of different typography options, and we liked that this was just so clean and simple. It’s so huge you almost can’t tell what it says at first. It’s quite bold, in every sense of the word.
“I’m in here mostly when we have a small team meeting or conference call. Get the work done and leave,” Tebele says about how he uses this conference room.
As for the conference room that is more of a lounge area, Tebele says that it’s his “favorite place for a one-on-one or small meeting, since it’s less intense. It’s a good escape to hang out, you go in with your laptop and put your feet up on the table.”
This shelving acts as a divider between the casual, social area and the desk area while still letting light through. It’s also an attractive way to store all the meme puzzles and card games.
The kitchen was all-white, and a blank canvas. Elliot is a big Keith Haring fan, so I got these wall graphics from Blik and arranged them over the cabinets and walls. It went from my least favorite room to the one I love the most.