Inside the SoHo Offices of Sound Studio One Thousand Birds

The bright, airy feel of a residential penthouse

There's a stereotype in the industry that sound studios are dark, windowless rooms where mixers sit for hours without leaving. While at one point this was the case, we at One Thousand Birds have made sure our space is nothing like the stereotype. It's not healthy to sit in a dark room all day, and the concept of a dark, lounge-style studio is outdated and boring. To challenge this, we've created spaces that are bright, open, peaceful and inviting with a ton of natural light that shines in as we create and envision the sounds in our everyday work.

Walking into our studio feels like coming home, which makes sense, since we're in the penthouse of a residential building in the heart of SoHo. When we began thinking about where in a building we wanted to work, we knew we needed a space on the top floor, so noises above wouldn't bother a mix or voiceover recording. We definitely hit the jackpot. 

The goal for our space is to inspire creativity. The design is minimal and focused around sound art pieces. We have an interactive musical plant pyramid, where the leaves create sound and music upon being brushed by a hand; we have a laser harp that we've been perfecting for years—it's in its fifth iteration, the latest one designed in collaboration with a sculptor named Vina Vu and the incredible harpist Mary Lattimore. Instead of strings, the harp has laser lights that make various sounds when touched, from traditional harps to voices and horror noises. It's not just a way for us to experiment with sound, it's also a great hit at parties and a testament to the creative, interactive and experiential projects we're able to ideate and create. 

One of the most important aspects for us when designing our space was catering to our community, including our employees, friends, colleagues, clients and others we've built relationships with over the years. Our tight-knit community began in our first space in Bushwick, where we would frequently throw parties and events that related to the appreciation of sound. But as our business grew, we inevitably discovered that clients and talent preferred working from Manhattan rather than making the trek to Brooklyn, so we opened a space in Chinatown. We eventually outgrew that space, which brought us to where we are now, with our new SoHo headquarters plus another studio in Los Angeles. 

SoHo has such an incredible creative history, and we wanted to contribute to that culture by creating a space for artists and the community through sound. We're now able to host sound baths, DJ series, hypnotherapy and meditation sessions, inviting the whole community to come sit with us, listen and appreciate sound, just like we did in Bushwick but on a larger scale. 

There are things we've learned from Bushwick, Chinatown, and L.A. that we've built upon in this new space, but we haven't forgotten where we came from. The art piece in our main room is a massive set of rules by an artist named Thomas Stevenson, who was our next-door neighbor at our first studio. It's nice to be reminded of where we started, as well as the rules themselves, like "Art is a job" and "Customize everything."

The response to the new space has been overwhelmingly positive. We feel that when we're in a space that inspires us, where we want to be every day, it translates directly to our clients having the best experience. It's why they keep coming back and why we're able to continue doing what we love. When you hit a creative roadblock, we have areas to find inspiration, like the creative lab, where we test new ideas and build experiential sound art pieces; or the roof deck, where you can get air when you need it. 

The nature of the industry is now faster than ever—we're making more content in less and less time, and our clients are usually working on multiple projects simultaneously. To that end, we've tried to make the space more inviting visually, but also more work friendly and flexible. We try to make the audio post process easy and enjoyable for our clients, building custom desks instead of couches so clients don't need to hunch on their computers while overseeing a job. We have found ways to make the space feel inviting and peaceful, but also productive. 

We've taken great care to build our space to be something we're proud of, a place where our company and the OTB family can continue to grow and evolve. We didn't just look at an architectural magazine and say, "That's what my space is going to be," and we didn't stick to the stereotypical sound-studio structure from the past. Our space is constantly changing; if we feel like something isn't working, we fix it. It goes back to Thomas' rules. "Customize everything" and "It's your life (space) to fuck up." 

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Andrew Tracy
Andrew Tracy is co-founder and chief creative officer of One Thousand Birds.

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