Good’s new office and designing within boundaries.
Change is good. I change my living environment a few times a year. Moving furniture around is refreshing, it helps me assess what I have accumulated over time, what is necessary, what stays and what goes. The first few weeks after my digs are refreshed I love seeing it in a new light. This is an aspect of my life I don’t give a lot of thought. I just get restless from time to time and I change things up.
I certainly never gave any thought to changing my physical environment at work. I interface with my digital desktop, and make sure there is plenty of elbow room on the physical one. Life goes on and work moves forward. Until now, I never approached my work space the way I have my living space. I do, in fact, spend more waking hours there then anywhere else. I certainly do the majority of my creative work there. But I went years without ever switching things up.
When I started this business in 2006, I was working out of my apartment and shortly moved into a co-op space where I stayed for a little over two years. My (then) partner and I would get inspired by talking about growing and expanding, hiring new employees, designing and getting our own office. I dreamed of a work space so clean and modern it looked like Herman Miller and the Eames’s created a Justice League style team to design the office specifically for our company. A flagship of technology driven business. A space that is sleek, modern, paperless and wireless. In my naivete I saw change and growth as events, something to happen suddenly, rapidly, after a long period of toiling away behind a desk. (This perspective was no doubt just as much a product of youth as a product of all of those garage start-up features in business magazines.) In reality the business itself evolves over time, growing everyday, and change is most noticeable when looking back.
As the business grew, I dreamed less of big changes, I focused my creative energy on my work and my clients. When it came time to move into a new space, I realized many of those dreams had turned into goals. I was now facing the the mission of finding a new office, one that reflects my business as it stands now and how it will grow. Good is a two man shop, for more then two years it’s operated in a co-op space with as many as four other small businesses. The co-op was good for me and I knew I wasn’t prepared to give up the relationships and camaraderie I got from my peers. Through conversations with Kevin and Luke my fellow co-op members, I realized they were in the same position, and the three of us had gained a lot from sharing work space. Each of our businesses were transitioning, and all three of us needed a space that could allow us to grow into or grow out of. So the three of us began looking for new spaces together.
After a few months of looking, Kevin discovered a space opening up across the street from where we were. What used to be the second floor of Shaub’s Department Store, had remained empty for 16 years before becoming a snow and skate shop. Behind a thick coat of bright orange paint, and display racks for cloths and gear, was the remnants of an art deco children’s toy and clothing department. With classic art deco lines built-in bookcases, storage and generations old hardwood floors, the space was immediately inspiring. The building manager refinished the floors, and we were able to talk him into painting an accent wall Good Red. We decided to take the members from the existing co-op and invite them into the new space, changing little more then ownership over the space.
The lease was signed, renovations made, boxes packed, moved and unpacked. The new co-op had its members and as part lease-holder (and only designer) I was given carte blanche over the interior design of the new space.
Thinking about the new space, I realized modern was not the way to go. It seems like most web companies go either modern or contemporary (or all things Ikea). When imagining the experience from a clients perspective, this must become predictable. The client visits a number of agencies, each promising to give them fresh and new solutions. Conference room after conference room, they sit at veneer laminated or smoked glass tables and in Aeron chairs. This style of design will tell them that we are a technology centered company, and that we are up on all the latest trends, but it does very little in showing them that we are original thinkers or that we are able to create a solution that is truly customized to their needs. As with building websites, the job of designing the interior of this office is more than just making something pretty. It is far from (what many misunderstand our profession) creating something out of nothing. It is working within limitations to inform, influence, and reaffirm people within the environment. Just as my clients brands and businesses influence the websites I create for them, I will allow the art deco environment to influence the interior design of the new office.
It’s easy to forget how your physical space affects your digital one, and to the creative professional this is important. Since the move, I have found my personal productivity go up, I come into the office earlier and stay later. I’ve been inspired by the view from our window, excited about the (completely unrelated) recent press the building has received. I am encouraged to keep that energy alive. In design we often find ourselves working quickly, our education and experiences informing everything we do. The more malleable we are to the world around us, the stronger our work becomes and the more positive situations we place ourselves in the more positive influence we receive. I will treat the environment of this new office as a long term project. the interior of this new workspace will evolve over the coming months. I will use this evolution to fuel my creativity.