Eclectic Curiosity

Posted on October 29th, 2003, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

Just revisited a great Fast Company article about the creative space at Portland’s Wieden + Kennedy and came across this insightful excerpt about quiet and chaos in the work environment.

But peace and quiet rarely prevail. The dominant tone of the space is closer to controlled chaos — which Wieden preaches as a virtue. “Right now, we have 250 people working here, but the building could easily hold 500,” says 42-year-old Chris Riley, W+K’s chief strategic officer. Riley, who was one of seven children, clearly knows about bedlam. “Since I’m very involved in business development, part of my goal is to get it really noisy in here. My vision of future success is when it becomes almost deafening.”

There may even be creative benefits to the chaos. “People who study creativity say that the most excruciatingly creative thing you can do is to hold two contrasting thoughts in your head at the same time,” says Kim Lilly, 38, a group account director who works on the Miller High Life account, among others. “It’s something to think about when you’re craving solitude and someone is playing the Grateful Dead. For us, to sit and listen to two simultaneous conversations about Nike and causes our thought processes to work a little bit differently.”

If Wieden had any initial concerns, it was that people were treating the new space with too much reverence. “The beauty and pristineness can be intimidating,” says Davies. “So we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to make the building our own. The trick is to remember that it’s a factory.”

Cloepfil helped by supplying most staff members with 10-foot-long wooden work tables, rather than with standard-issue desks. The sofas in the quads on floors three, four, and five look like they might have been rescued from someone’s den — but they give the place a more casual look. Three direct-draw beer dispensers — or “kegerators,” one of which came from the old office — get plenty of use, as does the new hammock on the roof deck. And the ultimate sign of comfort: People are beginning to write on the walls.

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