How creative agency Designdough designed and constructed its own studio

When it moved studio, Designdough embarked on a literal team building exercise. See the impressive results here.

With all the artistic skills inherent in the team within any given design studio, a degree of customisation of the workplace is to be expected.

However when Cardiff-based agency Designdough had just over a week to move, build and settle in a new studio, the team decided to do the work themselves, construct most of their furniture and turn the experience into a real team-building exercise.

We spoke to design administrator Frances Sheppard about the project.

MB: What prompted the move? What was your previous setup/space lacking?

FS: "As the studio was growing we needed to find somewhere we could expand and somewhere that represented us as a company.

"The studio we moved from was one of several large serviced office spaces in a refurbished malt house. It had a suspended floor in the roof of one of the old kilns, which admittedly was impressive. However the refurb made it all a bit too sleek, too modern and positively corporate. The new office needed to be somewhere we could fix up and give an identity to."

MB: It sounds like you approached the move like a design project. If so, what was 'the brief'?

FS: "Like any project we embark on, we followed a process; the initial (and key) step was research. The brief was simple: reflect Designdough in a physical form.

"We each did our research, which was a basic interior design mood board with some key features and other knick-knacks. To our surprise, and bang on brand, all of our ideas were nearly identical."

MB: What new benefits did you aim for the studio to provide for you and your work?

FS: We wanted to bring our standing desks with us to the new studio, as we firmly believe that they encourage creativity and collaboration within our team.

"In addition we needed a space to hold meetings and training which inspires and motivates the team as well as our clients.

"We had our hearts set on a pool table for recreational purposes. To everyone’s surprise one did indeed mysteriously get delivered, and now lives in ‘The Billiard Room’."

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MB: How did you come to build the furniture and where did the ideas for this come from?

FS: "With two of the guys from the team having just bought new houses they had ideas from Tumblr and Pinterest, which were probably dismissed by their significant others.

"It was a combination of that, and wanting to achieve exactly what we wanted for the studio, which urged the furniture building. We all got a bit excited by the stuff you could make with pallets and so jumped on the pallet furniture bandwagon and had a go ourselves.

"Twenty-six pallets later and we had cladded our desks, cladded a shelving unit, made a coffee table and the pièce de résistance – our herringbone-cladd boardroom table.

MB: What has been the most popular design element?

FS: "We’ve always wanted a big wall mural in the office forever, so Alice got designing.

"We used a local signwriter to interpret Alice’s wonder in chalk-pen form, the outcome speaks for itself and everyone loves it."

MB: What was the build experience like for the team?

FS: "The move and redecorating took a week and a half of early starts, late finishes and pizza… lots of pizza.

"Naturally, long hours induced silliness, but equally gave us time to discuss projects out of the usual working environment. The girls learned to sand stuff and the guys to boast about their manliness.

"It was a great opportunity for us to work together in a non-digital sense and now we can all be really smug about what we’ve achieved."

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MB: What were the quirkiest design choices for the new studio?

FS:  The standing desks. They are all custom heights for each member of the team and have undergone some serious cladding.

The professional benefits are that they have seriously improved our working day in terms of creativity, collaboration and general health.

Digital Arts: How does the new studio improve the client experience?

Frances Sheppard: It works as great example to our clients: how to bring your brand into every aspect of your company.

The feedback from our clients is that it is inspiring to see such a pleasant work space that suits us down to the ground.