Company Culture

Inside Taoti Creative’s evolving, super-customized Barracks Row office space

The creative agency moved into a historic row house at at 530 8th St. SE just four years ago. Now, Taoti is expanding, with plans to double its space this year.

Taoti Creative's current office space in D.C.

(Courtesy photo)

Taoti Creative has relocated more than five times since its inception in 1996. Now, it’s moving again by way of expansion.

The D.C.-based company was founded in 1996 as a web development shop out of founder and CEO Brent Lightner’s college dorm room, he told Today, Taoti Creative is a full-service creative agency with about 60 employees, specializing in web and digital projects, AR/VR, experiential marketing, social media management and the like. But before settling into its current office space, Taoti went through quite a few physical moves.

“We went from my bedroom, to dining room, to basement, and then when the basement became too small, I bought a bigger house just to get a bigger basement. When that place became a sweat shop, we moved to a ‘real’ office space in Dupont Circle,” said Lightner. “Then we moved into our current Capitol Hill digs back in 2016.”

Now situated in Barracks Row at 530 8th St. SE, Taoti’s D.C. location is its only physical office, housing more than two thirds of its staff; a handful of its employees work remotely throughout the North and South America, Lightner said. The agency took over a row house originally built in the 1860s, which has since been expanded and converted into commercial space. The office features exposed brick and wooden joists with its original pine floors and lumber still intact, Lightner said, and with its own renovations, Taoti also added a rooftop deck.

When Taoti first moved into the row house, Lightner said employees made furniture, such as conference room tables, from the old lumber taken out of the building when it was renovated. Some of the company’s personal touches on the office include Christmas lights strung from the ceiling that remain on year-round, a “four-inch Minion who mans the reception desk,” and a grand piano in the lobby.

“Incidentally, we have outgrown our space and are now expanding into what used to be a parking lot next door to us,” said Lightner. “As it’s all new, it won’t have the historic charm that our current place does, so it will be interesting to see how the very old and very new meld in juxtaposition.”

The expanded office space will be newly constructed, more than doubling Taoti’s space by the second quarter of 2020.

Outside of the 24/7 Christmas lighting, Taoti’s office also has TVs throughout, color-changing mood lighting, 360-degree video conferencing equipment and life-sized games on the rooftop. At one point, Lightner said the company used an Amazon Alexa-voice-powered reception system that would recognize and greet guests as they came into the office.

As far as cool amenities for its employees, Taoti has a company boat docked near its office, hosts a “CafeClutch” social gathering in the afternoons, puts on an annual global retreat week and manages a birthday dart board where employees get to throw a dart for a prize. Lightner said that on each employee’s fifth anniversary, they get painted as royalty. Take a look:

“As we grow, we’re constantly shifting things around and repurposing space to make do,” Lightner said. “We’re very eager to be able to overflow into our new space next year.”

Here’s a few more photos from Taoti’s current office:

Yes, there’s beer on tap on the company’s rooftop deck.

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