MKDA: FinTech Sector Disrupting Traditional Financial Workplace





Interiors firm MKDA today announced the completion of a 20,000-square-foot workplace at 41 East 11th Street in Greenwich Village for FinTech startup LearnVest, which last year was acquired by Northwestern Mutual for $250 million. MKDA has also commenced a second contiguous floor at the building for the firm, which launched in 2009 as a financial planning service for women.

“The FinTech sector is disrupting the traditional financial workplace. Mirroring the TAMI sector, firms like LearnVest desire offices that prioritize collaboration, technology and transparency over privacy and individual hierarchy,” said MKDA President Michael Kleinberg, whose firm is also designing FinTech workplaces for CommonBond and trueEX, as well as Jamestown’s Industry City.

“In addition, when a firm is as successful as LearnVest—now a national brand and a provider of financial advisory services to America’s largest generation—we have to consider new ways to address a firm’s evolution within the workplace.”

Although LearnVest has amassed a large number of users since its launch, and has been acquired by a national brand, MKDA sought to maintain the look and feel of its workplace, a move designed to maintain the firm’s much-loved startup culture, and then introduced solutions more suitable for a major FinTech player. As a result, the workplace is more sophisticated and strategic than it may appear.

According to LearnVest Founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel: “Our new office is truly a game-changer. Not only do we have a beautiful, comfortable workspace that allows for maximum efficiency, but the space was designed to encourage collaboration between teams, which is essential for innovation.”

The concept for this successful FinTech firm includes an open, interactive environment with ample options for collaboration and teamwork, including a lounge, boardroom, conference rooms, small meeting rooms, and phone rooms, all strategically positioned to improve movement and fluidity in the workplace.

“FinTech firms generally require more than the usual number of meeting rooms as well as large pantries that can transform into spaces for entertaining,” said MKDA Senior Interior Designer Stacey Kleinberg.  “The LearnVest workplace comprises a sizable pantry and 16 meeting rooms, which is more easily achieved with an open benching layout.”

Meeting rooms were designed with writable walls and custom tables wired for advanced videoconferencing technology. Wired high-top tables in the pantry, which offers a cereal bar and iced coffee keg, create hoteling and touchdown space. The design team also created a warm and inviting mothering room.

LearnVest’s work area comprises a single executive office and 172 benching workstations. Open ceilings and white walls create a clean, architectural backdrop for a modern lighting plan with light fixtures that were hung by hand due to the complex ductwork within this 1906 building.

The design aesthetic includes neutral color palate with pops of jewel-toned colors. The reception area features a Restoration Hardware reception desk, worn brown leather armchair and an emerald green sofa. Jewel tone wall coverings add drama to each meeting room and the executive office.

MKDA is a one of New York’s most enduring space planning, interior design and branding firms. The firm maintains a headquarters in New York, NY, where it was established in 1959, with additional offices in Stamford, CT and Miami, FL that serve key markets nationwide. MKDA offers the full scope of integrated services for the following practice areas: workplace, commercial buildings, retail, hospitality, healthcare, government and residential. It has been named one of Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Interior Design Giants, has been an Interior Design Best of the Year Honoree, and has received numerous other accolades and recognition. Client brands have included Snapchat, SoundCloud, Guggenheim Partners, Design Within Reach and Heineken USA, as well as leading building owners Silverstein Properties, Vornado Realty Trust, Blackstone, Boston Properties and Normandy.