I was three weeks into redesigning our office space and I hit a wall…and I was doing so well at first! I had created low fidelity paper prototypes- small cutouts of tables and chairs- and glued them onto a scaled model of my office. I asked my colleagues for reactions and got positive responses to the mock-ups. I was feeling energized by the momentum of the project and then…FAIL!
In my enthusiasm to make the office space a reality, I had skipped right over the essential step of considering the experience of the design and instead jumped right into to 3D CAD. I flipped through Herman Miller magazines and toiled over the tiny details even asking one co-worker, “Would you rather have a 32” or 36” wide desk?” I got a blank stare. At that moment, it clicked. I was asking my colleagues to make too many assumptions. In order for them to give me the feedback that I wanted, they really had to live in the space, be in the space to know what they needed.
That same day I told Tim, our Chief Inspiration Officer, “Tomorrow – I am taking away your desk. You are going to be sitting somewhere new tomorrow.” And he nodded cautiously.
What happened next was an in-market experiment in space design. I cleared out all of the furniture, grabbed some plywood cut to size and a stack of Designing For Growth books (for table legs) and voila! A new office space was born.
Now, Tim and the rest of my colleagues could really experience what the new office arrangement would look like and feel like. It was so much easier to develop new criteria for design based on observations and a real understanding of their needs – needs they didn’t even realize they had when this project was started.