They've helped CityMapper settle into Clerkenwell Studios, added astroturf to Mind Candy's HQ, and built desks out of reclaimed crates at Pact Coffee. But despite being responsible for some of London's craziest office spaces, Generate Studio's own HQ is remarkably sober: all exposed piping, chipboard partitions and open desk space.
‘It's about functionality,' Liz Close, their Managing Founder and MD explains. 'We're often on site, working from home or at one of the Club Workspaces. This is just a base. As a small business, we have to stay lean.’
Given her previous career as a management consultant, it's not surprising that practicality is at the heart of Generate Studio’s design strategy. In charge of managing her office's relocation in 2003, Liz discovered she had a passion and a talent for mirroring business objectives in the work space. 'There's no point in installing sleeping pods just for the sake of installing sleeping pods. We put the slide and astroturf in MindCandy's office because it was part of the brand and helped get staff into the mind of their customer.' The office has since been called 'the coolest office in the UK'.
As office dynamics change, work space design is moving away from rigid hierarchical layouts, such as closed-off offices and cubicles, towards a more democratic use of space. ‘It’s about breaking down barriers without breaking down the functionality of a space,' explains Liz. 'We do not want to belittle function. It’s very important to give people the option to work in different ways, whether that’s desks, meeting rooms or visual walls.’ She adds, though, that the things that make the most difference to people’s sense of wellbeing are quite basic. ‘It’s all about light and air.'
The design of the Pact office, based at The Biscuit Factory, was also based on the practicalities of their employees' working day and the ethos of the company and brand. 'They have a very clear idea of their brand, they just needed help visualising the space.' The open plan office where staff hot-desk within specific areas, and the coffee bar with its chillout space for both staff and customers, reflects the company’s flat hierarchy, its priority on the customer experience and its emphasis on communication and working together as a team – a team that will stay together. Liz adds, ’It’s about attracting bright young things to work for you. They don’t mind working long hours as long as they like where they work.’
Generate Studio have also designed the office space for the tech startup CityMapper, who have moved into Clerkenwell Studios. ‘The design changed quite a lot,’ according to Estelle at Generate Studio, ‘It was going to be heavily branded, but then they thought it might be too stereotypically "startup", so they’ve left the space more plain for their in-house artists and designers to populate it.’
Generate Studio are also in charge of the interior of the new Workspace buildings, including designing the communal spaces at the newly opened Westbourne Studios in West London. ‘It’s wonderful because these buildings have a history; they are often old factories or industrial spaces,' says Liz. 'Of course, this comes with its own set of challenges, but each building has its own identity. It’s great working with Workspace buildings because they give us the freedom to do what we want to do.’
Look at more examples of amazing studios designed by Generate Studio.