RECAP | What I learned at Studio Tour 2015

Raleigh Studio Tour 2015

Long story short, the AIGA Raleigh Studio Tour was awesome. I’m always on a bit of design-high after any AIGA event. It’s so inspiring to learn from other designers in the community and know that we can all call AIGA “home.”

I went into the AIGA Raleigh Studio Tour looking for ways to revamp the creative space where I work. We’re in the process of moving designers from different departments into the same area to increase collaboration and workflow. With this in mind, I was excited to see how other studios use the physical space to foster creativity. I found inspiration (and awesome snacks) at each studio. I visited Coalmarch Productions, Brasco Marketing, Baldwin&, Centerline, New Kind, and Capstrat and the tour seemed to get better with each stop.

I noted several commonalities between the studios who totally rocked it last Thursday night.

Your workspace needs to be inviting:

Inviting workspace

Coalmarch, Centerline and Capstrat were super inviting and friendly to guests, which reflects how they interact across teams and departments on a daily basis. If people feel welcome and comfortable, they’re probably more likely to enjoy their work. For designers, a studio desk is almost like a second home. We decorate our cubicles with posters, photos, and knick-knacks the same way we decorated our high school bedrooms. I’d love to use this energy to make our workspace more friendly and comfy.

Hidden rooms are fun to work in:

Hidden rooms

Capstrat’s studio featured a lot of small surprises: small meeting rooms off in a corner, comfy chairs next to windows, funny messages written on the walls. I’m more productive if I work in different spaces throughout the day, so it was really cool to see studios carve out secondary workspaces for designers. While I can’t construct new rooms, I can definitely find the most comfortable chair in the building and claim it when I need a change of scenery.

The open floor plan wins:

Open floor plan

An open floor plan is the easiest (and trendiest) way to facilitate collaboration. Without lots of offices and rooms, nothing is out of reach or closed off.

Ground your team with a central table:

central table

The central table is almost like the “wall” of the open floor plan. Centerline utilized this set-up really well, using a round table as an informal separation between each team or department. This set-up is probably the easiest to way to designate a workspace for our design team.

Increase vertical workspace:

vertical workspace

Bulletin boards, white boards, sticky note walls, pin-ups walls, and stand-up meetings. According to Adam Cutler’s presentation at Hopscotch Design Fest, people collaborate differently standing up and maximizing vertical workspace is one of the most effective ways to improve creative workflow. We get so caught up in our digital work and computer screens that we neglect to use our wall space for pin-ups, discussions, and brainstorming sessions. A whiteboard or big window next to our workspace would foster the early stages of the design process.

Trap them with food:

food and drink

Centerline, Capstrat, and Baldwin& had awesome kitchens. A few studios even had an in-house bar. Why would someone ever leave work if there’s a stocked fridge and a keg of Ponysaurus? In all seriousness, a mid-afternoon snack can help get those creative juices flowing again, which is why I always keep my snack drawer fully stocked.  

I can’t wait to revamp our space, and for the next AIGA Studio Tour!

By Chelsea Brown
Published November 9, 2015