The space in which you work can be one of the most important decisions for a designer. It has to have the perfect balance of inspiration and functionality to ensure you produce your very best work day-in, day-out. Here, we've picked 10 brilliant, pro working environments that help these designers to create.
01. Kate Kiefer Lee
"I love working at MailChimp (opens in new tab)'s headquarters, but I do most of my writing at home. Sometimes you just need a change of environment, and having a separate space is helpful when I need to focus. My desk sits in a quiet corner that overlooks the backyard.
"Writing is hard sometimes – especially when you're on deadline – so I try to make my home office a peaceful place. I display photos, I change out the books by my desk, but I always have a copy of the Maira Kalman illustrated edition of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style nearby. I also keep my Kindle close while I'm writing. I like using indoor plants as natural air purifiers, but this aloe is the only one I've managed to keep alive for more than a few months."
"Oak (opens in new tab) is located at Studiomates (opens in new tab), a collaborative workspace of designers, illustrators, bloggers, writers and developers in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighbourhood. As a small company, this bustling environment gives us energy and a unique opportunity to collaborate and learn from others.
"Our five-person team shares a 16-foot worktable. Keeping us on track every day is our custom status board known as ACORN - pulling in our GitHub projects, sales goals, support tickets, calendar, weather and tweets. Our chalkboard wall serves as a living canvas, featuring a rotating collection of chalk art from studio visitors. At the back we have some custom-built bike racks from Etsy, keeping our floorspace open when clients drop by."
03. Code and Theory
"Code and Theory (opens in new tab)'s New York office is a 20,000 square-foot open layout space right in the heart of Soho. One of the first things you notice in our office is the original 30,000-book library, which dates back to 1913. I share an office on the northeast side of the building with Code and Theory partner David Dicamillo.
"My desk is a USM desk, which was actually part of a barter deal from one of the first projects Code and Theory did 10 years ago. I'm never without my Lifefactory BPA-free thermos or my copy of 'The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work' by Alain de Botton. I use a Bluetooth phone handset and the vintage wooden chair in the corner of the room is one of the original pieces of furniture left from the office swap we did with Interview magazine in February 2012."
04. Craig Lockwood
"After working from home for far too long, I recently opened an open studio called FoundersHub. We have long communal desks that a friend of mine built as well as some relaxed, comfortable spaces and quiet rooms. The prints that adorn the Hub are from the Do Lectures.
"I recently hacked together a Raspberry Pi powered jukebox using the Spotify API. I'm always happier when surrounded by books and have built an extensive library. The Street Fighter arcade machinewas one of the first things shipped in and when I need to get my head down and concentrate on work, my Bose QC15 noise-cancelling headphones are perfect for zoning out and getting into my own little world."
05. Kelli Anderson
"My desk is built to accommodate my idiosyncratic work habits. It transforms (via a linear actuator) into a standing desk for the working hours, but contracts down into a solid shape (like a normal piece of furniture) when not in use (opens in new tab). The inside cabinets are filled with wide, shallow plexiglass drawers and there's a built-in tool chest organised by utility, with drawers for 'adhering things to other things', 'severing things', and 'measuring things'.
"This gridded pegboard, that was originally used for drying spools of thread, houses material scraps of inspiration including business cards, print samples and plexiglass shards. Looming overhead is a solar-system-esque mobile and the large poster by Josef Müller-Brockmann serves to always remind me that simpler is often better."
06. Cameron Moll
"My office is tucked away in an artistic corner of downtown Sarasota, Florida, less than a mile from the Gulf Coast. I record a podcast called Hired.fm, about work life. Three pieces of equipment are vital to my setup: Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic borrowed from my DSLR video gear; Mackie 802-VLZ3 mixer for audio input and mixing; M-Audio AV 40 speakers for playback and monitoring.
"Though I wouldn't classify myself as a bookworm, I keep some of my favourite design books close at hand. As I'm usually in my office three to four days a week with the remaining time spent working from home. A photo of my lovely wife hangs above my desk, along with quotes on my monitor that remind me what matters most: my family."
Gangnam is home to boutique design studio Minimalist. The décor is the work of founder and creative director Wochan Lee, who transformed the residential space single-handedly, the studio sports black walls and an astroturf carpet. A red leather bar stool sits next to the desk. On the shelves two sombreros are perched
Lee's most prized possessions – his camera equipment – are hidden in an unassuming case next to the bookshelf. He's also kitted out the studio with some creature comforts. There's a sofa-bed complete with pyjamas – Lee is no stranger to the all-nighter – and a portable gas stove for snacks.
08. Zim & Zou
World heritage city Nancy, in north-eastern France, is the place Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann call home. Better known as Zim&Zou, the duo works across sculpture, installation, graphic design, and illustration - usually in the form of handmade paper objects.
Their workspace has something of split personality: on one side, it’s all large windows, exposed brick and white walls, while the opposite side - is described by Zimmermann as a "well-organised, coloured mess". The pair's love for all things retro can be seen in the cassette-shaped tape dispenser, floppy disks, Walkmans and Nintendo controllers. Thomas' shoe pencil case and Zimmermann’s blue watch is also ever-present.
09. Designers Anonymous
"Coats, scarves and brollies offload here (thinking caps stay on)", reads the sign adorning the cloakroom wall in the London studio of Designers Anonymous. The creatives' love of efficiency and dislike of clutter has even prompted them to design their own furniture, including desks that tuck all cables and wires away, out of sight, and a 'critique table' that features a slot through which unsuitable concepts are ruthlessly and immediately posted, into a bin beneath.
Everything in the studio is designed to promote "smart but irreverent thinking", Barber explains. There's a folder full of magazines that's updated each week and the studio has also adopted the Swedish tradition of 'fika' – a pause in the daily routine for coffee. A regular visitor to the Designers Anonymous office is Hopper the whippet.
10. Google, Zurich
Google offices are incredible spaces and more often than not, covered from floor to ceiling with inspirational and pro-working accessories to get the creative juices flowing. How any Google employees get any work done here, we have no idea.
There's rooms to play sports, sing and dance, get a masssge, an aquarium where employees can relax in a foam-filled bath, a sky lounge, jungle and movie room, slides, fireman's poles and much, much more. But we love the different themed Gondolas dotted around, which serve as meeting rooms, the most. Amazing.
Do you work in a pro working environment? Let us know in the comments box below!