A design space made for smart, irreverent thinking

"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 entrance leads to the main workspace in an old Victorian warehouse; a bright, clutter-free area with "enough room to swing a cat" - although, co-owner and creative director Darren Barber assures us, they don't actually do that.

"We believe a clear studio gives you a clear mind," says Barber. It's an approach that is undeniably working for them, as the windowsill full of awards (1) attests.

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. Dotted around the space is evidence of the sideline projects - everything from mugs to short films to greetings cards (2) - that the creatives are encouraged to spend time on, to exercise their playful sides.

There's a folder full of magazines (3) that's updated each week, to give the designers a break from their computer screens and keep them on top of the latest marketing and design news. Inspired by one of its clients - a bar and restaurant of the same name - the studio has also adopted the Swedish tradition of 'fika' (4), a pause in the daily routine for coffee.

A regular visitor to the Designers Anonymous office is Hopper the whippet (5). "He's a comedy dog, and a good de-stresser," smiles Barber, adding: "Despite appearances, he eats an awful lot, so we have to keep an eye on our lunches."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 221.

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