How do you accomplish the near impossible? You say yes!

Our friends at the Stanford recently reached out to Trevor Croghan of One Workplace Learning Environments & Lisa Christensen of Steelcase for assistance with a challenging problem related to space. They briefly explained that project was to conceptualize and deliver innovative collaborative space for an unusual upcoming event that one of their good friends was hosting in Northern California. They introduced us to that friend, Daniel Epstein of Unreasonable Group. Any friend of Stanford and the is a friend to One Workplace and Steelcase! Creatively brilliant people also tend to have really interesting friends who get our team involved in exciting projects, so the decision to move forward was an easy one.

On a brief call with Daniel the following day, our team gathered the following important information about the project:

  • Unreasonable Group and the Nike Foundation Girl Effect team were planning an audacious experiment that had the potential to impact the lives of millions of adolescent girls worldwide.
  • Entrepreneurs from 10 emerging companies with the potential to directly improve conditions for girls around the world had been selected to participate in the inaugural “Girl Effect Accelerator”.
  • Some of the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs in the world had agreed to participate in the event as Mentors.
  • These entrepreneurs and mentors planned to live and work together for two weeks in a beautiful, remote location in rural Northern California to accelerate the growth of these ventures.
  • The overarching goal of the event was to use entrepreneurship to drive massive resources to girls in need all over the world.
  • Our role in this epic event was to create an innovation center in a 100+ year-old hop barn and (4) 30’ tall teepees.
  • The Girl Effect Accelerator was set to begin in approximately a week.
  • Any budget required to deliver something like this would need to be pulled from other important areas of the event.

Our suspicion about friends of the being interesting, brilliant and unorthodox and had been confirmed! Trevor and Lisa asked for a day to consider and review before making a commitment to Daniel and his team. After taking time to reflect on this challenge individually, they both committed themselves to rallying all available resources from both One Workplace and Steelcase to deliver world class collaborative spaces for this event with almost no time or budget. Daniel was thrilled to hear the news and the partnership was solidified. After only a brief interaction with Daniel, our team caught the “Unreasonable Fever”.

The next 6 days were a whirlwind of brainstorming, on-the-fly Design, logistical coordination and unreasonable thinking. Our team knocked down every barrier in the way of delivering on our commitment to this project. A process that generally takes several months was completed in under a week. Here’s how we did it:

  • Trevor quickly booked time with the One Workplace executive team and pitched the idea of loaning items from our warehouse and Oakland Center for Active Learning to the Girl Effect team for two weeks. The Ferrari Family fully endorsed our participation in this cause and approved this without question.
  • Daniel and Alice Beese from Unreasonable along with Tom De Blasis from the Nike Foundation visited One Workplace headquarters in Santa Clara for a Design brainstorming session and warehouse furniture scavenger hunt to identify the perfect items for the event.
  • Julie Markham from Unreasonable Operations collaborated with Trevor and the One Workplace Operations team to secure the trucks and labor necessary to deliver all items from our Santa Clara and Oakland locations to the event.
  • Volunteers from One Workplace, Steelcase, Unreasonable Group and the Nike Foundation accompanied three large trucks to Hopland the day the event was set to begin. After more on-the-fly Design and brainstorming, the team created (10) project spaces, (3) distinct collaborative areas and a large group seminar space in the barn along with (4) teepee environments, each with a specific design inspiration.

The team completed their work just short of an hour prior to the arrival of the accelerator participants, just enough time to share a glass of wine and a few slices of pizza to celebrate a successful project. Upon arrival, the participants and organizers were blown away by the spaces we designed and delivered. Several individuals commented that the spaces provided for this event supported their work better than the workspace their companies use every day.

Members of the One Workplace and Steelcase team were invited to become a part of the Girl Effect community over the course of the event. Through this participation an immersion in the program, our team learned was able to observe our collaborative environments in action and gain insights on how some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the world communicate and share information. Our team will apply these insights to current and future spaces we’re designing for our partners.

This story is a testament to the power of place and space. Physical environments can have a dynamic impact on the activities that take place within. One Workplace and Steelcase are very proud of what our team accomplished for The Girl Effect Accelerator with little budget, no time and very limited resources. The outcomes of this event will have a significant impact on a global scale for years to come and we are honored to have played a small part in making this event a success.

See the following links for more information about the people and organizations our team partnered with on this ambitious project:


Girl Effect Accelerator

Girl Effect

Unreasonable Group

Daniel Epstein