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In order to impress visiting clients, attract the most creative staff and encourage the free flow of ideas, advertising agencies pull out all the stops when it comes to interior design. Each company attempts to build something bigger and better than the last, resulting in some of the most unconventional – and awesome – offices in the world. Read on to find out what goes on behind the glass doors in famous ad agencies around the globe.
Ogilvy – Cape Town, South Africa
Ogilvy has approximately 500 offices around the world, so it is difficult to single out just one example of the agency’s creative workspace design, but the recently refurbished Cape Town office seems like a good place to start. With faux grass underfoot and surrounded by a collection of ultra-modern dog statues, you could almost believe you were in an outdoor sculpture park, not the offices of one of the world’s biggest ad agencies. Ogilvy have also found a way to liven up even the dullest meetings with their colour-changing conference room. Do the walls change colour to reflect your mood, I wonder? Then, for those times when you just need a little home comfort, the agency has a built-in living room area where you can pull up an armchair and relax. One of the more disturbing design features is in the restrooms, where you will find mouth-shaped urinals – classy!
Karmarama – London, UK
Karmarama is proud of its ethical approach to advertising, mirrored in both the name of the company and in the motto ‘doing good works.’ The agency’s London headquarters are every bit as unique: a far cry from corporate clichés, the very entrance is a ‘disco tunnel’ designed to create the same sense of expectation as an aerobridge. The chill out room, complete with arcade games and a sweet shop, is a place to wind down after meetings. Apparently, ping pong is central to the workplace culture, and there are special rooms built for the purpose. In fact, a giant red inflatable Buddha bears the instructions, ‘Work hard. Be nice to people. Play ping pong.’
Wieden & Kennedy – Amsterdam, Netherlands
With views over one of Amsterdam’s famous canals, a ‘garden’ with picnic tables, bike shed and a neighbourhood cat, the Wieden & Kennedy office feels like a home from home. Indeed, the employees, who hail from all over the world, feel like a big happy family, and silly staff photos cover the walls along with urban-inspired artwork. The agency’s many awards and trophies are dotted around the premises, everywhere from the bookshelves and desks to the loos. Under the same roof are two miniature businesses, one of which has created a 3D interactive map to help new employees find their way around, a great way to ease first-day nerves, and you can always bond over a cup of mint tea freshly made with leaves grown on-site.
JWT – New York City, USA
The New York offices of JWT are designed around the theme of storytelling, which is what the agency aims to do for its clients. This theme is expressed everywhere, from the strings of words decorating the office to the on-site library. The wooden surfaces, huge tree-like columns and copious use of the colour green give the impression of a modern forest, contrasting with the retro-inspired Space Invaders wall and funky meeting rooms. The huge, open plan workspace encourages the 1,000 or so employees to mingle and collaborate on projects for an enviable list of clients.
La Despensa – Madrid, Spain
Independent ad agency La Despensa, which is Spanish for ‘pantry’, is about as ‘indie’ as you can get. Founded just 11 years ago by Miguel Olivares and Javier Carrasco, the company culture is relaxed, playful and unconventional: clients are offered a Nutella sandwich at their first meeting as a kind of compatibility test, and there is a ‘party switch’ that turns the entire office into an instant disco, complete with strobe lights, lasers and fog machines, to celebrate wins and commiserate losses. The office transforms itself into a yoga studio on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, followed by an open-mic performance/ideas session Thursday afternoon. The company also throws legendary Christmas parties, not to mention having once organised its own advertising festival for La Despensa and other agencies. In the workspace design to the company culture, La Despensa seems to embody the phrase ‘work hard, play hard.’
In an industry that is all about image, advertising agencies spare no expense to make their offices among the most creative in the world. The result is highly motivated staff with a constant stream of ideas inspired by their unconventional environment. I believe most offices could learn a thing or two from this – even without the budget of a huge ad agency, injecting a little life and personality into your workspace, even if it is just with a silly team photo, a mood board or a colourful array of potted plants, we all work better when we like where we are.
As a freelance writer for security door company LBSGroup.co.uk, I spend a lot of time researching interesting buildings and interiors. While my current place of work doesn’t have a ping pong room, it is directly above a cinema and café-bar, which is pretty cool!
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