Employees playing Guitar Hero
playing Guitar Hero in a swanky office, my kind of workplace

I’m an idealist. Clearly. I have very strong opinions about what I feel an agency should be, and how it should be run. Today, however, I’m taking a look at what a creative workplace should physically be, that is in the architectural sense.

I learned about a new site called This Ain’t No Disco from swissmiss and thus became appropriately depressed about the fact that I don’t work in one these brilliant spaces. TAND is a site that showcases stunning examples of creative agencies that have invested in their studio space. I can’t say whether or not employees are happier, or if the work is better, but there is no doubt that I would enjoy being any place for 8+ hours a day that allowed me to wander off and play some Guitar Hero (pictured above).

Incredible Interior

Visit This Ain’t No Disco »

There is a debate about what sort of environment is best for creative output. While this can be very subjective, the general rule is that designers need to be relaxed. Agitation, in any form, is bad. Yet I have worked at several studios where their interior design scheme is decidedly bland. One agency, a fashion advertising group, featured wall after wall of white cabinets. The walls and desks were grey and the carpets were a darker grey. They discouraged us from decorating our desks, and the common areas featured no posters or agency work. Odd. Some of the biggest and best consultancies also feature sparse workspaces, although they usually justify it with that old “our style is our clients’ style” nonsense.

There are two universal standbys as far as design workplaces are concerned: sunlight and square footage. While the same could be said about any profession, they are considered by most offices and most industries to be luxuries, not essentials. Wherever colour is concerned, the presence of natural light is a must. Even those special lights which mimic sunlight are no substitute for the real thing. That’s to say nothing of the emotional and physical effects of being in the dark all day — not the best for creativity and thought. Awhile back, there was an article in HOW Magazine about square footage and office space in general. The conclusion is that designers need upwards of 200–300 sq. ft. per employee for true efficiency. This is due largely to the need for common meeting places, studio space for cutting/mounting, etc., and the general larger desks and tables required for spreading things out. We are a quirky bunch.

The conclusion: Don’t overlook your interiors as a brand touchpoint and an extra seductive feature for employee productivity. Where you work, while it might seem of little consequence, can certainly affect how you work.