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KONTOR, a Pandora + Pinterest for Commercial Design, Wants to Help You Find Your Next Cool Office

Utilizing a proprietary algorithm and images tagged by industry professionals, New York-based startup KONTOR has ambitions to be a resource for architects and designers, a site that blends some of the best features of Pandora and Pinterest. So why are they starting out with a focus on office space design? According to Editorial Director William Hanley, that's where the action is.

"It's a huge growth market for architects, and many companies are thinking about how unique interiors can be used as a branding tool and a way to enhance company recruitment," he says. "From law firms to creative industries, it's about having a more tailored experience."

The search for that experience—as well as a little office voyeurism—is what the company is hoping will encourage sign up and user engagement. According to CEO and founder Mia Lewin, a former eBay exec and founder of design/story, the site offers a contextual search platform, "Houzz for designers," that can helps firms gather examples and create briefs and presentations faster.

KONTOR began last September, launched a private beta site at NeoCon, and is currently taking requests for invites. Fittingly named after the Danish word for office, the streamlined site currently features the work of more than 30 firms, including HOK, Studios, Perkins+Will and IA Interior Architects. After creating an account, users can browse the project utilizing the site's Design Graph technology, which helps find and pinpoint examples of materials and styles, and then share images with mood boards and collaboration tools. Founder Kevin Ryan, who also founded Gilt Groupe, believes there's a $70 billion market for commercial and office design that isn't being served, and feels KONTOR can fill that niche.

"I come from design media, and it's really obvious that there isn't a good way to find materials and situate them in the spaces," says Hanley. "Our site is about those lateral connections between industrial design and architecture that never existed before in that simple, visual way."

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