“Your space and your furniture can do a lot for your brand perception,” Dull said. “That impacts everything from recruiting and business development to employee satisfaction and retention. So we needed to find and furnish a space that could support what we are today and sustain us as we continue to grow.”
When Dull began looking for new office space, it took every bit of his creative vision to recognize the potential of a 100-year-old commercial building in downtown Spring Lake, a resort town just down the Lake Michigan shoreline from Concept A’s original location.
The building, which at different points in its history had housed an undertaker, a hardware store, and a surf/skateboard shop, had been vacant for seven years. It was in such disrepair that state inspectors had deemed it “blight.”
Undaunted, Dull took on the reclamation project with the help of Rick Edwards, a design consultant with Herman Miller. Edwards studied how Dull’s employees used their Grand Haven office: how they worked together, how they sought privacy, how they stored paper, how they conducted meetings. He also met with employees to discuss their ideas for the new space. Edwards’ observations uncovered needs Dull hadn’t considered.
“At first, I just didn’t feel like (an employee lounge) was the best use of our square footage,” Dull said. “But working with Rick convinced me that providing a comfortable, almost residential feel is extremely important for our employees. In the final design, it became a real asset of the space.”
To extend a more comfortable experience of work beyond the lounge area, Edwards’ design for the space offers a variety of settings, all optimized to support different types of work and interaction. This approach to space design empowers people to choose the setting that best meets the needs of the task at hand. At Herman Miller, we call this approach Living Office.
Concept A’s Living Office is comprised of four distinct settings: a Clubhouse, a Cove, a Meeting Space, and two Workshops.
Set apart from the main-level Clubhouse, where employees perform their heads-down, focused work, Concept A’s lounge, or Cove, gives people a place to go to peruse design books for inspiration, or just to relax. Concept A’s original office space lacked a formal Meeting Space, which made this setting crucial for the new location. The balance of the new, 2,700-square-foot space is dedicated to two Workshop areas: a second-floor space that doubles as an art and photography studio, and a space on the main level that supports idea generation, research, and production work.
The renovation project took a full year to complete, and, late in 2013, Concept A moved in. The collaboration with Edwards and Herman Miller yielded a sophisticated, contemporary space that intuitively supports the firm’s work flow while communicating the life and vitality of the studio to visitors. In the end, Dull enjoyed the design process as much as his employees have enjoyed the results.
“For me, as a creative director, partnering with an architect and interior designer wasn’t all that different from partnering with illustrators or photographers in the work we do every day for our clients,” he said. “It was a huge design problem to solve, but we were able to assemble a team with the right skills to execute our vision. It was kind of fun to see a building that was sort of an eyesore turn into something beautiful and purposeful.”