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Office Design…… The Pixar Way

The upcoming Pixar animation ‘Inside Out’ will no doubt become the 15th hit for the famous studio following previous blockbusters such as Toy Story, Cars and Finding Nemo.

Along with passion from the founders and the added impetus provided by a certain Steve Jobs, Pixars’ success has always been deeply rooted in its innovative approach to the creative process and an unswerving persistence and attention to detail in all it does.

As the seed of an idea emerges and a new animation starts to develop, the team follow a fixed set of principles to ensure an end result as close to perfection as possible. Here are the top five from their list ;

1. Hire for excellence

Hire the very best talent or you will not achieve excellence. Know where to find the experts in each field and how to attract them

2. Show early and show often

When creating design concepts look at the development at every stage to keep things on track. Major changes are difficult to achieve without adverse consequences if left too long.

3. Match the medium to the message

The style of communication and the method for presentation is important. Rough sketches at the start, polished production at the end and a mixture in the mid phase

4. Notes session

Allow a broad range of stakeholders to review the concept at an early stage to prepare extensive feedback notes for the design team to consider. These are not mandatory just suggestions

5. When it sucks say so

Don’t be polite – best to be honest with feedback and ensure that things progress in the right direction from the start

^ The world famous Pixar campus

The same principles that deliver unrivalled success in the movies also serve Pixar well in developing a working environment at their HQ campus in Emeryville California designed to encourage teamwork, collaboration, communication and creativity.

A huge atrium space acts as a central meeting hub which in turn connects to the various theatre spaces where the films are previewed. In contrast to the communal spaces the animators are able to hide away in their very own garden sheds with complete freedom to design the interiors as they please.

^ The cavernous atrium space

Despite below average pay scales and relentless long days at the office the happiness factor among the Pixar team is sky high, a self made endorsement of the unique culture they have developed.

Selecting your office design team

End user clients considering an office design or relocation project often put off project planning until late in the programme leading to the rushed appointment of a design team. Rather than leaving the selection process to the last minute it is far preferable to have the time to consider potential design teams, look at their past projects, take up references and to test their capabilities against an outline brief.

Once a design partner is chosen you can then concentrate on the detail of the project and achieving a first class solution as opposed to appointing late and having the added distractions of a competitive pitch or tender process to manage.

So if you are about to embark on a new office design project you could do worse than take a leaf out of the Pixar guidebook. You may not end up with a six foot plastic cowboy in reception but with a bit of luck you’ll have a blockbuster office space all of your own!

 

Take a look at our Guide to the Office Design Process

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