Stripe is an online payment processing platform that grew from its two Irish brother founders to 8,000 employees in less than 15 years. Even with its amazingly rapid growth, the company has retained a quirky culture that completely defies the corporate vibe typically found in fintech.

Forcade was hired to help Stripe capture the essence of this creative culture in their new Chicago office, which is a space where Stripes (what they cleverly call employees) come from all over the world to work, learn and laugh together.


Our design team helped Stripe envision their environment as a place where people willingly wanted to gather, rather than an office where employees woefully went to work. It was a radical change in mindset that required a completely different perspective to classic corporate design.


That led to the centerpiece of our plan being a fully functioning park inside their space. To accomplish this daring design feat, we combined real-life foliage with fantastical, supersized park-setting photography. The photos are purposefully exaggerated and obscured. Sweeping outdoor vistas, full forests of trees and wonderous cloudscapes were physically and magically stretched across the entire indoor park to creatively stretch the imaginations of its inhabitants.


The result is a wildly artistic, fairy-tale aesthetic that serves as the central heartbeat of the office, containing collaborative, private and touchdown spaces for Stripes to gather in an energetic environment that perfectly embodies the company’s quirky culture. We also designed the space to be completely customizable, allowing the teams to hold any function imaginable, like in a real park.

Moving the design aesthetic inside

Since this location is a hub for Stripes visiting from all over the world, not just a place for the Chicago-based workforce, we crafted a design element that encouraged people to get out of the office and enjoy the city.

Our solution was a collision point, where the indoor park meets a giant wall-size map of the city waiting just outside the doors. The map is crafted as a roughhewn, dimensional wood installation with a textural feel that fits seamlessly within the park-like atmosphere where it resides. It serves as a natural gravitational pull that makes even first-time Chicago visitors feel comfortable and confident moving from the indoors to the outdoors.


We even created eight pre-mapped walking trips in various lengths posted adjacent to the giant map, giving visitors the option to sneak out for a five-minute break, venture on a 50-minute outing or anything in between. They simply grab the sheet containing the route they want to traverse or scan a QR code for a phone-enabled tour.


Just like people carve their names in trees or on picnic tables in real-life parks, we cleverly crafted a less destructive way for Stripes to leave their mark in the new office. Connected to the Irish roots of the company founders, the Irish heritage of Chicago and the fashion roots of the building, our solution was a massive, hands-on interactive tartan wall.

Visitors grab a pre-cut fabric ribbon (that we, of course, named a “stripe”), write a message on it, then weave it into the wall-length tartan. It’s a never ending, always evolving exhibition that visually attracts people to it on every visit to the office. The tartan wall enables Stripes from all over the world to feel closely intertwined with each other, helping this enormous company keep its friendly, close-knit culture.

Making a distinctive mark

To further reflect the fashion industry history of the building, our team used famous fabrics as the inspiration for each meeting room name, including Pinstripe, Plaid, Gingham, Houndstooth and more. The signs outside the rooms are fabricated from beautiful wood to connect to the park-like, natural setting of the space and include illustration identifiers that creatively visualize the fabric’s name and serve as a secondary wayfinding mechanism.

We also represented the fashion roots of the property in the several small, private call rooms located throughout the office. The walls each feature a gorgeous custom soft sculpture made from different fabrics, giving people a touch of elegance and comfort in a typically sterile setting.


The llama is the unofficial, but beloved mascot of Stripe. So we added fun ways for visitors to play discover-the-llama throughout the space. This includes using a llama rather than a horse as the heads of the gigantic knight pieces in the park’s oversized chess board. And a follow-the-llamas walking tour to familiarize new visitors within space. These small, hidden moments helped all Stripes feel right at home even if they were thousands of miles from their home offices.



Every element in our plan was designed to immerse employees throughout the world in the ethos of Stripe when they visited Chicago. From the first steps into the office, where people literally can see themselves in the dichroic reflective surface of the Stripe logo, to the experiential activities located throughout the space, the Forcade team purposefully put the one-of-a-kind culture of the company in the center of all design ideas and decisions.


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