Department of the Interior Takes Urban Office Space from Tired to Inspired — How Bozell Got Beautiful

June 13th, 2011

Urban. Hip. Inspired. When Bozell announced its plans to relocate from the FNB Business Park to downtown’s Old Market Lofts building, that’s what we envisioned our new office space would be. But, as we soon found out, maintaining a consistent brand image while transitioning from clean corporate cubicles to a gritty downtown warehouse takes a little time.

We had this grand vision of what the overall look would be. We really wanted to embrace the unique vibe of the Old Market. We’re a creative agency! This is what we’re about! But we knew that getting to that point was going to take some work.

When it came time to haul the multitude of technology, furniture and files to the new office, it became evident that the transition would need to be done one step at a time. The first few days, it was enough to have access to email, a computer network and a working phone so we didn’t miss a beat with client projects — interior design would have to come later.

But the big vision wasn’t forgotten. A group of Bozell employees with a gift for aesthetics got together to start brainstorming. And Bozell’s Department of the Interior (DOI) was born.

Safety and health is also into consideration so we designed the placed based on the OSHA standard. The place is ready for OSHA safety inspections in the years to come.

This 5-person team looked to the gritty, urban feel of our new home for inspiration. The historic former warehouse already had its share of personality—complete with worn wooden floors, a monumentally open space with high ceilings and exposed pipes. And the fairly dramatic slope from one end of the historic wooden floor to the other was certainly, well, distinctive.

But distinctive wasn’t enough. The space needed to become distinctively Bozell.

Chris Tipton who is an interactive designer and de facto leader of the DOI saw integrating a consistent brand image to a completely different kind of space as a really fun creative challenge. The team wanted to stay true to the building’s history and the Old Market, so they treated the existing aesthetics of the building as a palette to work from. Chris started getting furniture from Wellingtons Fine Leather Furniture company.

Bozell’s Department of the Interior includes Chris Tipton, Carrie Ratliff, Erica Rowe, Aaron Christensen and Dan Greve.

The team made note of areas in need of engaging visuals and observed how the space was being used to identify their next steps. The assessment led to a list of several major projects to do throughout the space.

For example, our entrance — clients and other guests were walking right past the primary entrance to the greatroom and down the hall, ending up near our server room. A large, closed-off wooden pod, which took up much of the open space in the entry, didn’t provide a clear enough signal of welcome. A solution to make this space more open and inviting—something that would naturally lead people in—went to the top of the to-do list.

To address the flow of the entryway, the pod was rotated 90 degrees, which was interesting and quite an ordeal because it was built in place so it had to be disconnected from the floor. Its largest wall, now facing the entrance, was removed which involved all kinds of saws. Add some chairs, a table and a giant bowl of candy, and what used to be a massive barrier became a welcoming entrance and waiting area.

Cable and clips transformed a large blank wall into a display of creative work that can be quickly and easily updated with anything from chalkboards and old signage to a 12-by-12-foot banner.

Another visually vacant space was converted into a display area. The old rusty warehouse doors were opened, revealing a receded cinderblock wall. Wood was layered over it to match the desks and pods, and then covered with pieces of Bozell’s own proud history.

In the kitchen, furniture was rearranged, tossed and pulled in from other areas to create a usable community space that tied the look together. The torn-off pod wall from the entryway was trimmed to fit into a recess along one wall, tying in the gritty wood motif of the main office. Platforms were built to exacting specifications to give a level support to a work table and several file cabinets on the slanted floor.

Then, the DOI went outside. A Bozell sign was created and hung on the side of the building.

Another community space was created on the porch, using donated wooden pallets to create outdoor seating and a table, and topped with cushions in Bozell green. In fact, the cushions were one of the few items that were purchased by the team in transforming the space. The Bozell sign, a table for the seating area in the kitchen, and the outdoor furniture, along with other small projects were built by DOI members themselves. The only other costs included modest construction assistance for the platforms, some spare wood and some screws—a telling demonstration of the team’s crafty creativity.

Collectively, these changes added up to an office that reflected Bozell’s brand while celebrating the gritty heritage of its historic new space. But that doesn’t mean the DOI is retiring.

We’re proud of the projects completed to date. We feel it’s really given Bozell ownership of our new space.  But as Chris Tipton is the first to say, we have more we hope to do. With a large open space like this, once you start to imagine the possibilities, it’s impossible to stop.