The first impression that a studio makes is as important as what values the results display. This applies especially during the later stage of our practice. It’s evident from the get-go to the viewer in multiple aspects, ranging from workflow, creativity, engagement, brand, style and inclusivity. As professionals of society, we encourage, educate them about our work, raise awareness and sell them as a brand.
Looking at some of the best practices and office designs of architects, these buildings exhibit their values and style, reflecting their brand of work. Be it Sangath, of and made by Pritzker Prize winner, Ar. B. V. Doshi or RPBW, the studio of Ar. Renzo Piano, they resonate with the works they do the most; prime examples of the uniqueness beyond their built environments.
We shall begin with, as per Ludwig’s code of conduct, function. Barring physical and real constraints, it depends on the working style of the decision-maker, which is you. Some prefer working in open desks, the running trend of office spaces, which is collaborative and fluid. This allows flexibility, ease of access for varied functions, other than immovable assets. One can interact freely and publicly, fostering connections and sociability among peers.
On the other hand, the usual office setup is the most efficient in relaying tasks on time, consisting of immovable desks and set areas for varied tasks. This method has been followed since the industrial revolution, holding its relevance even to this date. The focus is strong towards work; the results are sure-fire, due to the introverted nature of the working style.
Evidence against open workspace is cropping up and rising. But necessary deviation against the conveyor belt work system beg for reconsideration of workspace designs, balancing the socializing and focused aspect of the inhabiting environment, especially the work environment. With problems seen in both the types of the work environment, there have been efforts in recognizing the mental state of the employees. The balance has to be struck between introversion and extroversion of the working space, by considering the mental state of users.
There are multiple examples of studio offices that set a style statement of their own using subtlety to full effects. These elements set an image of the firm’s working style. It is an indirect way of inducing the very values you want the visitor to be educated in, making for an efficient closer in negotiations. Taking an example of MVRDV, this firm has created an office inspired by various domestic interiors and colours, making its global and modernistic approach apparent through the interior designing of their firms. The goal of this example is not that one has to have that capital but to add a soul of what your space speaks about work.
This representation or symbolism through work can be adopted in any means possible, despite the constraints. Taking an example of reD Architects, their new studio speaks of their free-flowing style in their interiors and treatment of every material in a unique manner. For another situation, an architect dealing with eco-friendly architecture, practicing out of an apartment block can incorporate eco-friendly features within. Be it using chemical free paper for visiting card, stucco finish achieved using mud plaster or using bamboo shutters instead of aluminium for windows, the impact made within the users’ mind is far effective.
Varied methods are used to make designing an interesting process, like sketching, making models, writing, etc. At times, this process is rather collaborative. This demands a space, which urges all the creative minds to come together and share their opinions, ideas and creations. This helps in creating a highly active environment, involving all parts of the machine that is the studio. This can serve as content for social media, like sketches, models, thought-piece, etc. Such discussions will always garner the audience, bolstering the brand of work that one produces.
The importance of social media for self-advertising plays an important role, other than word-of-mouth publicity. A specific spot should be reserved for all the content that will be produced by the studio. This space will serve as the origin of the firm, the spot from where all the content spouts. Proudly displaying a portfolio by using visual merchandise, increases the exposure of work generated, ingraining the sense of branding within people as well, with higher retention. This includes the use of screens, graphics detailing various works done by the firm, usually placed in receptions and entrances.
Proper planning of the functions helps in maintaining the cleanliness of the working space. E.g. designating spaces for printing, copying, laser cutting and any activity which may cause effusion or spread of dust/gas should be closed off with proper ventilation. This will ensure the maximum use of the space only when required, encouraging creativity. For additional measures, regular cleaning and dusting will help improve air quality and overall interior health.
With the perfect combination of designing, self-awareness and branding, one can make their working space a pleasure to experience. Studios necessarily do not have to be an ‘all-business’ space loaded with work. With our creative minds, we can make a better atmosphere for visitors, prospective clients, employees and yourself!