Schoolhouse Spaces: Union Cowork San Marcos
Founder and designer behind Handsome Salt, Sara Simon, is known for crafting spaces that are anything but boring. As fans of her style, we’ve been following her projects for some time now, which is why when we heard she was working on Union Cowork’s latest location, we knew it would be swoon-worthy.
Nestled in the neighborhood of North City, California, Union Cowork San Marcos, is a shared office space in a light-filled industrial setting. From dreamy plants to a vibrant color palette, the furnishings have Sara’s impeccable style written all over it. Inspired by her knack for curating bold spaces full of personality, we spent some time with Sara to hear about her creative process, Schoolhouse favorites, and the future of office life as we know it.
Could you share a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always been drawn to interiors?
I am an LA native. I went to college there and played soccer while getting my BA and MBA. I have always loved decorating and being creative growing up, but I honestly never thought about it as a career. I spent my first five years out of college working at a marketing agency and then transitioned into the world of fashion. Leaning into my marketing background, I freelanced for a designer in NYC and had the opportunity to work New York Fashion Week for a few years (if you want to experience complete exhaustion, work a fashion week). During that time, I found myself falling into what I do today and haven't looked back since.
How did you get connected with this project?
What was the inspiration behind the design?
I liked the idea of keeping the space very clean. I was very much digging Scandinavian design and wanted super simple, pretty neutral tones with pops of color. We also had lots of natural light that helped open up the space.
In five words, how would you describe the feel of the space.
Clean, simple, Scandinavian, airy, bright.
How do you balance function and form when working on a large-scale project like the Union?
You have to put functionality at the forefront and then let design follow and see the space from a user perspective. There are so many cool ideas or designs we can go with, but if they don't make sense for the end-user, we are not doing our job right.
When designing, do you approach residential and commercial spaces differently?
I treat them pretty much the same. There has definitely been a learning curve over the years, but my rule of function first still applies to residential and commercial projects. For residential projects, you have to put your homeowner hat on. I ask myself, "If I were to live here, would this work for me?" Of Course, I still find funky ways to jazz things up, but it has to make sense first.
What were some of the highlights and challenges while working on this project?
I think the highlight is you have such a large space to play with. The challenge is also that you have such a large space! Understanding the flow of the room can be challenging at first, but once you nail that down, it all goes smoothly.
What Schoolhouse products did you select and why did you choose them?
I used an array of lights from Schoolhouse. I wanted the primary lighting to be simple and neutral, adding in brass and black details to tie in any use of color.
Reception: Donna Sconce
Kitchen: Donna Pendant
Offices: Shelby Mod Pendant
Hall/Sitting Area: Beacon Sconce
Long Halls: Cullen Pendant
Conference: Isaac Chandelier
Bathrooms: Satellite Sconce
Workspaces: Odyssey Surface Mount
What’s your favorite part of the design?
My favorite part is honestly seeing it all come together. There are so many moving pieces while you're working on the project, and it is so fulfilling to see your design come to life.
Finally, what do you see as the future of interior design, coworking spaces, or office life in general?
I think coworking spaces are going to see an influx of members. It will only be a matter of time before people can't work at home anymore for many reasons, and with main offices being closed indefinitely, many individuals will start looking for a safe place to work. Coworking allows individuals to have a private space that's away from the distractions of home life. It will definitely shape what the future of work environments looks like!
Photography by John Barton