Weeknote 454

August 4th to 10th

Not much has changed in our studio space since we moved here almost two years ago. We added some desks, a large table, lamps and movable shelves. But the basic layout of the room always stayed the same.

Before we moved, we put some thoughts into creating a floor plan. We divided the space into basic areas: meet, work, relax, eat/socialize. It all made sense on paper (or in 3d) and it felt alright in reality.

But in the last months, we realized that our current solution wasn’t ideal. We started with 4-5 people when we moved here. Now all 8 work stations are constantly occupied and soon we won’t have enough desks to accommodate everybody. With that many people working in the open plan studio, some of us wish for a refuge, a place devoid of distractions, a little corner to focus.

None of us had a good idea how to tackle these challenges. We were stuck.

Enter raumlabor. We asked our favourite architects for help and we were excited, that Andrea and Christof, who we knew from joint projects for re:publica and NEXT Berlin conference, agreed to join us for a workshop.

So on Friday we’ve blocked the whole day to improve the studio. Our guest from Berlin listened to our experiences we’ve made with the space in the last two years and what everybody on the team liked or disliked. After having a closer look at our space, “reading the room”, they had and idea how to change the basic layout. And so we did: furniture was moved, lamps were adjusted, shelves dissembled and reassembled. At the end of the day we had a new studio. And although a bit messy and improvised, it immediately felt better. We now have more space for additional work stations, a quiet corner with two desks and a new coffee lounge.

Listening to how Andrea and Christof talked about the room, about how people move because of the layout and which activities are enabled or discouraged by it, made me realize how limited my abilities are to conceive a layout beyond a screen or a DIN A0 sheet. Our old arrangement reflected that. I don’t think we’ve done a terrible job at it. We followed some basic rules that led to an OK solution. It’s like designing a poster using a standard grid and Helvetica. It’ll look decent, probably better than most of the posters done by other non-graphic designers. But it takes more to do something great. True masters not just know the rules, they know how to break them. Like good jazz musicians, who can improvise effortlessly.

It was great watching raumlabor playing a little jazz in our studio. Thanks!

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