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Why Investor Alexa von Tobel Believes Good Design Is the Future of the Office | Architectural Digest

On a summer day in the West Village, New Yorkers (and their accompanying dogs and kiddos) dart to and fro against the backdrop of a vermilion concrete wall. Photographer Xan Padrón captures the hurried scene in his Time Lapse series, an edition of which hangs prominently in the office of Inspired Capital, a Manhattan-based venture capital firm, as though setting a pulse within the workplace.

The enterprise recently unveiled this space—its new headquarters—in a building near Union Square that owners have dubbed the Address of Innovation. In an age of rethinking the workplace as a means to encourage employees back into the work environment, Inspired Capital’s light-filled 6,600-square-foot office has positioned itself as an antidote to the cold, formal, even intimidating spaces of yore: evidence that serious business can, in fact, be conducted within seriously chic interiors. To bring the residential-meets-start-up concept to fruition, Alexa von Tobel, founding partner at Inspired Capital, tapped designer Benjamin Vandiver (named an AD One to Watch in 2014), who wields a skillful knack for mingling vintage furniture and objets with undeniably contemporary environments.

“We focused on it being a workable space—of course, we’re here to do great work. But we also decided everything can be beautiful,” von Tobel says.

Photo: Reid Rolls courtesy of Inspired Capital

Lifting up emerging talent is, after all, the company M.O. Founded in 2019 by von Tobel (who is also the founder and former CEO of LearnVest), Penny Pritzker (former U.S. secretary of commerce), and Lucy Deland (cofounder of Paperless Post), Inspired Capital is among the largest female-led venture capital firms in the U.S. The $500M V.C. firm specializes in early-stage tech founders, with start-ups such as lifestyle brand Hill House Home, next-gen insurer Lemonade, and software builder Airtable among its past investments.

Needless to say, if anyone’s fit to describe the ROI—that is, return on investment—of good design, it’s them. “I sincerely believe that we are deeply influenced by the spaces we’re in,” von Tobel shares. “We spend the majority of our waking hours in our office space, so, to be surrounded by beautiful pieces, textures, and colors has an impact on our own creativity.”

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