Friday, February 18, 2011

The Importance of Office Clutter

It’s important to be organized, but certain kinds of clutter are actually good for creativity and productivity. Take a quick tour around our design firm to see what we mean.... We’ll start in the entry way. It’s pretty clean, but we have strategically placed clusters of trophy clutter to say to our clients “yeah, these guys have street cred.”

We also litter our walls with framed examples of cool design work we’ve done. It decorates the walls and serves as a portfolio to show off some of our favorite projects.

We have a shelf that is also full of stuff we have designed. When clients come in, we can pretend like we are really busy, so while they wait, they can wander around and browse. This lets them see more of our work without us having to whip out the portfolio.

If we really take our time, they might wander over to our book shelf and see a collection of awesome pop culture icons. All of these figures represent the icons of American art and entertainment...each of these characters started out as a drawing but through marketing and design, they became famous symbols of American bliss. From Charlie Brown to Sponge Bob to Mickey to Scooby Doo and Bart Simpson... these pop culture treasures are not only fun to have around, but they suggest that we are in touch with what is fun and cool. (If clients think you’re cool, they will not tell you to make their logo as big, or use colors like mauve in their brochures.)

If we totally ignore our clients while we talk real loud on the phone to clients from New York and LA, they might feel like they have the right to snoop around. We want them to see our inspiration wall. It is full of cool stuff that we wish we had designed. There are a few of our pieces on there, too... but this magnetic board is there to inspire and push us to compete with creative folks who we admire. If the client thinks we did everything on that board, they might think we are not just hip, but uber-cool.

We also leave out mood boards. These are collages that feature research that we have done to nail down a specific vibe that is in the same cultural zip code as a logo, package or brand we’re creating. This is all part of our creative process, but by leaving it out in plain view, our clients think we must be super busy, so they will understand why we can’t get up from our desks just yet. (Never mind that the mood boards are from a project we finished 6 months ago!)

If the clients get really tired of waiting for us to come and say hello, they just walk right into our design area. By doing this, they fall right into another trap. They must pass more trophies like our Emmy, our Dove, and loads of ADDYs.

They inevitably stop at our Super Hero Collection and ponder how we actually get anything done with all the toys we keep around us.

Then we look surprised to see them and apologize for making them wait, muttering something about being lost in our creativity. They can feel the creativity swirling all around them, and they quickly forget that we’ve squandered 15 minutes of their day. Now that we are all standing around our computers, they can see that we actually made their deadline and created some butt-kickin’ design work that will get them a promotion if they make it look like it was all their idea. We encourage that. It usually leads to more work. (Like Ronald Reagan said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t worry about who gets the credit.”)

When we’re done hanging out with them and thanking them for the great feedback they have given us, we let them exit through the gift shop. (It used to be a conference room, but we turned it into a boutique to sell stuff we have created.) It’s full of our Spirit of Nashville and Art & Soul of America prints and gifts. Often, they buy something, and leave feeling happy. 

See Mom? Our clutter is actually a god thing!

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