Rethinking Your Work(space)
From the perfectly placed petite cubicle to the open, airy, and lounge-like spaces of a tech startup, we all have wants and needs when it comes to being more creative, productive, and inspired at work. Even if you’re working out of a corner in your house, there are ways to improve and optimize your office to fit your vision (and budget). If you’re thinking of undertaking a redesign of your workspace, here are some foundational questions to ask yourself straight from the architects of our beautiful space.
The best advice we can offer is to understand what amount you can afford, and set a tight budget that is 10-15% less. Stick to this new number as much as possible. That way, when extra expenses pop up (and they always do) you don’t have to scramble to find the funds—you already have them! Jaime Magaliff, from Perimeter Architects, also recommends that to be successful with your redesign, you must be honest with your architect, avoid being trendy and over-designed, leave room for spatial discovery, and pick ONE decision maker.
1. How can design contribute to our company culture?
2. How can design improve the way we work?
3. What are our priorities? (i.e. furniture, lighting, technology, finishes)
4. What’s unique about our company/product/staff?
5. What isn’t working in our current office space?
6. How will this contribute to the wellness of our team?
7. But the most important question is: what’s your budget?
Back in 2013, we took over a lovely storefront in the heart of Bucktown, a thriving creative neighborhood in Chicago. The space was large, open, and full of character. Fast-forward a year, and we started thinking about how we use the space, how we could optimize the layout, and how we could transform the space within the terms of our lease, and more importantly our budget. In 2015, Perimeter Architects, a boutique Chicago-based architecture firm contacted us to help tell the story of a unique opportunity they were offering. Just then a lightbulb turned on! We can help them tell their story in the form of an ActionSketch video and, in turn, they can help us rethink our 120+ year-old storefront to make it more efficient, creative, and engaging.
Ink Factory co-founder, Ryan, creating the paper-based ActionSketch video for Perimeter Architects’ Sardine Lab
Length x Width x Height
To create (or re-create) a flexible, open, and optimized co-working space, you must understand the limitations. Luckily, the lovely folks at Perimeter Architects took action and interviewed the whole Ink Factory team in order to understand our wants, needs, wishes, and constraints.
When you study the way a great space functions, you’ll notice that there is a balance of innovation, function, and design.
By looking at your space through the lens of these three pillars, you can create an infinite array of multi-functional uses of objects, furniture, walls, and work surfaces: a bookcase can become a wall; a wall can become a workstation; a workstation can become a platform, etc. When it comes to keeping within your budget, this is a great mindset to be in because it allows you become more resourceful and creative when designing the space.
Look beyond the length and width of your space and take advantage of the vertical wall space. Understand what areas are not being used in your space. Inspiration doesn’t have to be from high-end design firms, glossy architecture magazines, or by scrolling through Pinterest. Inspiration should springboard off of your personality, work habits (good and bad), tools you use, and the interactions you have with clients and/or co-workers. We wanted a workspace that maximized the storefront we committed to, but that was peppered with our personality, brand identity, and inspirations.
At Ink Factory, we took all of these questions into consideration in order to truly collaborate with the architects at Perimeter. In the end, we wanted to make sure Perimeter’s creativity was showcased, that we found a balance of functionality and design, and also try to stay within our budget (which didn’t happen). And, hey, even our co-founder’s pup, Whisky, got his own custom-designed lounge! It’s appropriately named the Whisky Lounge.
The finished design of Ink Factory’s new studio was awarded the 2016 Citation of Merit by the American Institute of Architects for their annual Small Projects Award. Click here to see more photos of Ink Factory’s storefront studio.