Just as Tokens & Icons, formerly Tokens & Coins, invents new uses for subway tokens, baseball seating, typewriter keys and even cracked game used bats, they’ve put their creativity to the test with their move to an expanded office space. But please don’t call it new, because that’s exactly what it is not.
If you take a look inside the industrial-style building on 809 Bancroft Way in Berkeley, you’ll see something akin to an airplane hangar, complete with a 42’ long section of a Pan American fuselage from 1965. And all the shelving, storage, office partitions and work surfaces are built of reclaimed materials. In essence, Tokens & Icons has created a space that reflects the very nature of their business: to breathe new life into things that already exist.
Ward Wallau, founder of Tokens & Icons and a self-proclaimed “authenticity hound,” gathered his crew of artisans to transform barn wood from a 1927 Idaho granary into two large sliding doors. Galvanized metal mailboxes—some still containing original documents from the early 1900s—are now receptacles for the company’s jewelry and gifts. And wood pallets and corrugated roofing have been fashioned into pony walls. Even a discarded dog kennel turned out to be the perfect size for storing the baseball seats used to create stadium-related merchandise.
And there’s no end to Wallau’s creative vision: Large, open shelving is crafted from an extension ladder divided in two. The face of the main work area looks like a general store, with slats of weathered teak and molding borrowed from the antique post box. Shelves, slots and drawers, all handcrafted from reclaimed wood, are thoughtfully organized to make packaging simple and seamless for employees.
So relax on a bench built from Cal Stadium bleachers, or just walk around and enjoy the sun beaming in through a stained glass panel from the recently dismantled American Airlines Terminal at JFK. Tokens & Icons’ (not-so) new quarters are a place where purpose finds new meaning and nostalgia is right at home.
- written by Elisse Gabrie