as we're beginning to look for a new office space for playground, i've been spending some time thinking about the type of working environment that i want to create. over the years i've had a variety of working environments--from a little nook of a bungalow to an office with a lovely skylight to a cubicle with harsh fluorescents and no windows to our current office--bright, light and airy but becoming smaller by the day. i know the type of environment that i don't want to create as much as the one that i do--places for privacy and places for meetings. while i love a few of the current trends in creative office, as an introvert i've never felt entirely (ok, or even a little) comfortable with the whole open plan office and am seriously less productive, creative and happy if i feel overly exposed. it's always my argument as well when i'm asked for thoughts on creative open plan office design--you have to have flexibility, because not everyone wants to be in a public space all day everyday.
i think there's also an ongoing debate about how much or how little you allow someone to customize their own workspaces, to which my answer is that if you hire people with good taste and design sensibility you really have nothing to worry about. while there might be standard issue furniture (and who can really be to upset about an eames chair, right?) i think leaving some space for creativity is a good thing. what do you do when your hiring people in stereotypically not creative, not aesthetic driven fields? how much do you really want them creating their own environments? this is where i think there is a real opportunity to have an in-house designer customize a space that fits with the rest of the office but references the person through color, prints or art/objects. i can also see the merit in just doing one cohesive, overarching design for workspaces like this and leaving room for small objects, additions and customizations.
the one thing i do know for sure is that people are definitely impacted by the space they work in, for better or worse. bad lighting is the quickest way to make me miserable, which is why my desk currently faces a floor to ceiling arched window. it's an essential element of my on-the-job happiness. i think the more we can customize work spaces that are beautiful and human-friendly, the more productive, happy and engaged people will be at work. the next element of my dream office? a working kitchen with a good stove. how lovely would it be to have a freshly baked madeline with your friday morning coffee?