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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

Office Design Part 1: "The Platform"

What if Greg Brady's room... but at work!

If you're a creative person, you probably work in a creative space. We see the world differently, and if the world around us is boring we do our best to make that world interesting. And besides - working in a creative space is just more fun!

Like all things in life, challenges inspire creative solutions. For me, it started with my very first office at DDB Chicago. They crammed my art director partner Michael Porritt and me into a one-person sized office, so we had to get creative! I sourced an inflatable "gorilla" couch from Ikea (which I still have, and amazingly it still holds air), a makeshift loft/bookcase and some grass skirts and created a tiki theme on a budget. When they moved us into cubicles, we found a way to knock out the panels so we could see each other - but we added a space-age silver curtain for privacy. When we finally graduated to a real two person office, it was time to take it to the next level. Did we get approval for this nutty endeavor? Hell no. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission!

My next office design was ambitious. Imagine a mash-up between Greg Brady's room, Kramer's "levels" from Seinfeld and a bit of strip club thrown in for good measure. After surviving a series of office moves, we collected every desk and bookcase and old couch we could get our hands on - everything is grandfathered in when you move into a new space. Together with those raw materials, we purchased some plywood, black shag carpeting, bean bag chairs, red rope lights, orb lights, and various other knick-knacks and waited for a Saturday. When the office was quiet and empty, we hauled all this stuff up the freight elevator and got to work.

The end result was... exciting. We created an L-shaped platform, constructed by placing the plywood base over desks, bookcases, and an old couch. We even thought ahead to include airflow underneath so we didn't screw with the ventilation. A certain admin took a nap under there on a few occasions! When you stood up, a person of approximately 6ft just brushed the ceiling. One part of the platform held our desks and a TV. The other part held two bean-bag chairs. Classy! Red rope lights circled the perimeter of the platform, and orb lights hung above the bean-bags. Also, you can just catch a glimpse of an RC car with a beer car taped to the back. We had two of these vehicles, which had thumb tacks stuck to the front. Whoever popped the other person's can of beer was the winner. The office carpet was always the loser. Fun times indeed!

So we built this platform, and then kept the door shut so that only our friends and close team members caught wind of it. It was cool for about three weeks, and then DDB gave us an opportunity to work in the DDB Auckland office... for a month. Unfortunately, that's when office services discovered our little endeavor. At first they were on board, but then the building staff happened upon it... and they threw the book at us. Besides violating fire codes, it would have also needed a ramp for wheel chair access! It was fun while it lasted. Wish we had thought to take better pictures. Although it wasn't my most polished or well-crafted experiment, it was the first and probably most creative. I still miss it.

Here you can see Michael and me seated at our shared desk (a piece of plywood!), the black shag carpeting, the tube TV for reviewing director reels and the latest cuts, the red rope lights and the storage and ventilation beneath.

Check out those bean bag chairs and the red and white orb lights - my wife will never miss her holiday decorations!

Who needs a mount table? The platform actually made a super convenient place to lay out and review work. While the building staff might have shouted "Fire hazard!," we found a new way to maximize our workspace with style. From here, plans would only get bigger!

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