One Entrepreneur’s Journey
to Creating a Branded Space
Sitting in a renovated second-story office in Brooklyn, Jessica Banks embodies the bright, bold future of tech entrepreneurs. With degrees from U of M and MIT in subjects like physics, engineering and robotics, her latest venture, RockPaperRobot, brings engineering and design together to create furniture that is both versatile and beautiful. Her big personality and even bigger dreams for the intersection of technology, home and the workplace has garnered media attention, opened up the TEDx stage and landed her squarely in the center of today’s most innovative technology circles.
“I try to not think of myself as one thing because I don’t feel like I am just one thing. I do robotics and engineering and design work. I do philanthropy and I’m an entrepreneur. These things are more about behaviors than being,” she explained.
But, like us all, Jessica is the sum of many parts. She’s more than an almost-astronaut. More than a creative writer. More than a collection of the transforming chairs or floating tables that anchor RPR’s work in furniture design. And the world is taking note of her unique aesthetic and the creativity she unleashes in the design studio.
So when this self-described “erratic and eclectic” designer prepared to move into a renovated office in NewLab, the hip tech space in Brooklyn’s old Navy Yard, she wanted her space to tell a design story that matched her no-labels, no-boundaries philosophy.
Drawn to Bivi’s chameleonlike capabilities, Jessica worked with turnstone to design a workplace that could grow with RockPaperRobot and embody her personality. After settling on a highly functional floorplan that maximized space, she worked to inject her individuality by taking ownership of the fabrics and materials used. Jessica chose a rich green velvet upholstery for Bivi Rumble Seat to contrast the wood tones of Bivi Trunk, and covered her work surfaces with an opinionated wood veneer she loves for its warmth and natural variations.
“I always chase hard after a sense of warmth, identity and personality. I need that sense of humanity — that sense that there’s been intentional design and personal touch. The notion of detailed intentionality is an important tenet in my work,” said Banks.
Aside from furniture elements, her team prioritized natural light and a sense of openness when designing their workplace. Her group also created two distinct but connected spaces: a secondstory office kept clean and tidy for strategizing and meeting with clients, and a separate, first floor fabrication and build space for making messes.
“We take this seriously. We wanted a lot of personality so it was clear that our brand was reflected and that we were in charge of our space. Our space is designed to show that every detail has been considered. Not one thing was left to chance.”