Ben Barry

On the day we visited the apartment of designer Ben Barry in
San Francisco,
the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky (a bit of an anomaly as the the rest of our time in San Francisco it rained). Ben welcomed us through his place on a mere days email notice (thanks again!) & showed us his work. In another life, he worked for 6 years as Facebook's first communication designer—these days he spends his time collaborating with awesome companies and designers to bring new projects to life.

Ben recently moved from New York City back to San Francisco & shares an apartment with his girlfriend; they live downstairs and his studio is upstairs. They moved their Floyd tables from New York City to San Francisco, leaving the surfaces behind & finding new ones once they arrived. It’s a cozy office space, with all the tools Ben needs to make new work—and a view looking up a ridge line that certainly inspires.


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Ben's latest personal project is a book titled “One Hundred Patterns.” The book documents a collection of one hundred patterns designed by Ben Barry over the course of one hundred days. The entire book is printed using only three Pantone spot colors—blue, orange, and pink—and their resulting overprints.


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Facebook red book

When Ben joined Facebook in 2008, his focus was on developing Facebook's internal culture, voice and brand. Most notably, he co-founded the Facebook Analog Research Laboratory, an internal print studio and art program. A print studio existing within the walls of a tech company (that in some ways is working to make print obsolete) strikes one as a bit odd. Beyond injecting a sense of curiosity & spontaneity into the workplace, the lab's work also supported some critical pieces to the company’s growth. A challenge Facebook faced as it rapidly grew was how to adequately communicate the company’s mission to new employees.

Ben & his team created the Little Red Book, a compact document that dives into the Facebook’s mission, history and culture. On one page, an employee lays sprawled out on a chair (that's a bit too small) with their feet up on a box, presumably catching a quick nap in the office before diving back into the code. The caption reads: “Greatness & comfort rarely co-exist.” It’s playful & visualizes an early mythology of a bootstrapping startup, well before a time when the company swelled to over 12,000 employees. The only way to see the complete book is to join Facebook, or visit Ben’s apartment.
Special thanks to Ben Barry for showing us around his apartment. Check out more of his work on his site.